• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Special K

Does taking food photos bother customers or staff?

88 posts in this topic

One or two flashes...no big deal. But repeated flash shots are annoying and selfish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As well as all the social media stuff--the democratisation of food criticism, Facebook posts, eG threads--isn't it also a natural response to how food is presented (which in turn feeds off the increasing number of shutter-happy diners)? Look at cookbooks from Noma, French Laundry, Marque, Quay, Fat Duck, 11 MP and so on. It's not just neat and uncluttered: at it's best it can serve as a very temporary form of visual art.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might have suggested this before elsewhere, but given the number of guests toting cameras and cell phones, restaurants with low lighting and the space might consider setting aside a room or area so picture takes can shoot away without disturbing more solemn diners.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Me and my little camera just got back from chicago, photos of everything I ate. A quick shot with no flash before the dish might get cold is great I think. I share my pictures and descriptions with everyone and it's just free advertising for the restaurant. And I'm always quite flattered when someone takes a picture of something I've plated.

Edit: A giant DSLR is a little over the top however.


Edited by ScottyBoy (log)

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit that on my recent trip to Napa Valley, San Francisco, and Monterey Bay I took photos of the food I and my friends had (did it as quickly and discreetly as I could). My eating experiences are some of my most memorable and I wish to share them with my friends and family. I ate at Auberge De Soleil, Bouchon, and Flour and Water to name a few. WOW! I don't expect to eat that well again for a long time! Will longingly look at those photos for years to come. And I am not a food blogger!


Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing is about a food picture once I see one that I took I can remember the dish, ingredients and flavors completely. If I was to describe a dinner to some someone instead of saying "oh there was a foie dish, lobster and a peach cake" I can show a picture and describe each element.


Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take photos and don't bother anyone. The alleged tripod/video thing sounds a little suspect to me.

One poster in the UK forum actually admitted to videoing the server without asking for permission. See the response by the owner "The Greek"

http://forums.egulle...e/page__st__330

I think you'll find that he is referring to a 'dictation machine' rather than a video recorder when the chef talks about recording what the server says the dishes are.

I sometimes take photos on my iphone although my skills (I wouldn't dream of blaming the camera!) are such that they are rarely worth posting online. I have no objections to others taking photos of the food. I do object to flashes and of people taking photos of me without consent. I really can't see the fuss about a quick photo of a plate of food. Personally there is a lot more that is offensive that goes on in restaurants by diners.......

Andrew

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras and easily-pocketable point-and-shoots, it seems to me that people are taking pictures of practically everything these days, and posting them immediately to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, wherever. There's little self-consciousness about flashes, about whether bystanders actually want to be in your shot, especially when it's being posted publicly... I find much of that quite annoying, and that's usually just people taking pictures of each other. As many have already stated, it's more a matter of courtesy and consideration: if you can do it without bothering anyone, what could they possibly complain about? But if you are making a scene: using flash, or making noise, or putting yourself or some equipment in someone else's personal space, or invading people's privacy, well you're just being obnoxious.

I've been shooting pictures of my food for years, often with a DSLR, and I try very hard to be quick and discrete. I used to get weird looks from servers and owners, but photographing one's food has become so common now that it's completely unremarkable. I used to get questions about what I was doing, now I usually get advice about what the best angle is, or a request for a copy of the photos.

If the light is good, an iPhone or other small camera can do remarkably well, but in lower light, an SLR is much more useful. It's possible to shoot quickly and not cause a disturbance, even with a big camera. People just need to be conscious of everyone around them, any try not to be jerks...

Now, if we can just eliminate the true menace of modern pop photography: subjecting your food photos to washed-out-yet over-saturated Instagram filters, we'd be getting somewhere. No, making your sandwich photo appear to be a long-lost Polaroid that's been left on the dashboard for 10 years does NOT make it more appealing...


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't mind cameras but I hate the flash. Whether its the food or Mom's birthday, its intrusive, esp at a nice place. Pix of everyone at the table?...please.... they'll less viewed than wedding photos; why take them at all?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think small cameras, no flash is fine. not too many now ... your food is getting cold.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose an occasional discreet photo is fine but... I have an in-law who is forever taking pics of everyone at the table with her phone, then uploading them instantly to Facebook, then commenting on FB with her friends about the pics, then texting her other friends about the pictures on FB and what she's eating, who's at the dinner, etc. etc. This drives me mad. She is, sadly, well old enough to know better.

Perhaps we should be like knights of old but, instead of checking our weapons at the door (of a restaurant), we'd have to check our technology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd love to see more restaurants ban cameras, though the trend is firmly against me.

It is absolutely ridiculous to watch, as tables are served, every person at the table pull out a smartphone (well, more accurately, lift it from where it had been prominently left on the table) and start memorialising the dish, as though it is the most momentous thing to have happened in their lives to date (it probably is), and as though anyone on Facebook actually pays the slightest attention to their preening, aspirational posts about such-and-such restaurant they've attended (I'm more certain here: they don't).

Every time I see it, it infuriates me. It makes me want to throw a carafe and scream, "It's not a new-born child; it's a fucking fondant, for chrissakes. What sort of moronic, vacuous existences do you people live!?"

/rage

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No flash and all that, yeah. Altho' I can understand why a restaurant mightn't want people to take photos (of the food, at least) at all. Still, I can't help but wonder if strongarming a guest out the door, Changstyle, is really the best way to do it. Maybe it'd come across better if you offered/gave customers a CD-R (come on, they cost a few cents per unit) with chef-approved photos of every dish from the menu/season/whatever. Only if they persisted with the photographu would you then be a bit more forceful, pointing out that it's not allowed. I know that Chang's supposedly a bit of a rock star chef--and don't get me wrong, I love his book and want to visit his restaurants in Sydney and New York--but still, dude, tact is a beautiful thing.

I suspect that the desire to photograph one's dinner is a response to a few things. Firstly, there's the obvious social media influence. You can very easily share any and all aspects of your life with your friends, family, random people via imgur/deviantart/et al. There's that. Secondly, if celebrity chefs acquire (well, some of them) 'rock star' status, again, it's natural. Thirdly, especially if it's a fine dining restaurant, a lot of effort has (hopefully) gone into how the food is presented: not just how it's plated but also it's probably interesting in terms of ingredients/techniques/et al. I can see how people would want to take a photo of that. And, too, a fine dining experience isn't inexpensive. It's kind of a big deal for many people. Also, digital cameras, smartphones and accessible editing software (often in-built into these very devices) allow people to pretend for maybe a moment that they're taking that close-up wank-shot from the frontcover of last month's Gourmet Traveller/delicious/Saveur, just like blogging lets some people make believe that they're honest to gawd journalists.


Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an interesting article, rotuts.

I am definitely of two minds about this...Flattering though it is to see people excited about something you cooked, the disruption to the table, and tables nearby, is awful.

As with many things in American Culture, I expect the larger problem is not the action itself, but the lack of consideration for others. My particular restaurant pet peeve is vulgarity at neighboring tables. I really do not care how you choose to speak, or the things you choose to disuss. At least, I do not care until I have to hear them.

I suppose I really have a similar feeling about cameras. If it can be done discreetly with a minumum of fuss, ok. If not, exercise your brain and try to record the experience the old fashioned way.


Do or do not. There is no try.

-Yoda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it's specifically an American thing. It's also very common in Australia. That said, I've rarely seen people use an actual flash. Even when the lighting is dimmed down, giving you a sort of third-world-caveman-in-a-mine-after-10pm-during-the-apocalypse dining experience, people I've known and seen tend to just accept the lighting and make do with a dull, hazy shot. I've heard a couple of Australian chefs talk about the evils of photography to the media but I've never heard of anyone, anywhere actually doing anthing about it. I mean, the one chef that seems most outspoken about it, he's also outspoken about basically any issue to do with anything related to the restaurant business and is also one of the hosts of maybe our most popular cooking show, so he seems to come across as less of a kitchen person and more as a media person.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every time I see it, it infuriates me. It makes me want to throw a carafe and scream, "It's not a new-born child; it's a fucking fondant, for chrissakes. What sort of moronic, vacuous existences do you people live!?"

Meh. it's my food. If I want to commission an artist to paint a portrait of it for me, what's the big deal?


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect that the desire to photograph one's dinner is a response to a few things. Firstly, there's the obvious social media influence. You can very easily share any and all aspects of your life with your friends, family, random people via imgur/deviantart/et al. There's that. Secondly, if celebrity chefs acquire (well, some of them) 'rock star' status, again, it's natural. Thirdly, especially if it's a fine dining restaurant, a lot of effort has (hopefully) gone into how the food is presented: not just how it's plated but also it's probably interesting in terms of ingredients/techniques/et al. I can see how people would want to take a photo of that. And, too, a fine dining experience isn't inexpensive. It's kind of a big deal for many people. Also, digital cameras, smartphones and accessible editing software (often in-built into these very devices) allow people to pretend for maybe a moment that they're taking that close-up wank-shot from the frontcover of last month's Gourmet Traveller/delicious/Saveur, just like blogging lets some people make believe that they're honest to gawd journalists.

It's even more inappropriate in a fine dining restaurant, because they're one of the very last places where some sort of vestigial decorum is expected to hold. I don't care if someone rarely has the chance to attend fine dining; having to see him photographing every item makes the whole thing declasse for other diners like having to watch him licked the jus from his knife with relish, just to make sure that he was extracting every last atom of value from the precious experience.

Every time I see it, it infuriates me. It makes me want to throw a carafe and scream, "It's not a new-born child; it's a fucking fondant, for chrissakes. What sort of moronic, vacuous existences do you people live!?"

Meh. it's my food. If I want to commission an artist to paint a portrait of it for me, what's the big deal?

Do it at home. At a restaurant, 'Meh. it's my food' doesn't hold, unless you're so utterly self-absorbed that you think that your table constitutes a perfectly sealed little bubble of reality, within which you have a divinely-granted right to do as you please: to photograph, answer calls, speak as loudly as you will, or whatever.


Edited by mugen (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect that the desire to photograph one's dinner is a response to a few things. Firstly, there's the obvious social media influence. You can very easily share any and all aspects of your life with your friends, family, random people via imgur/deviantart/et al. There's that. Secondly, if celebrity chefs acquire (well, some of them) 'rock star' status, again, it's natural. Thirdly, especially if it's a fine dining restaurant, a lot of effort has (hopefully) gone into how the food is presented: not just how it's plated but also it's probably interesting in terms of ingredients/techniques/et al. I can see how people would want to take a photo of that. And, too, a fine dining experience isn't inexpensive. It's kind of a big deal for many people. Also, digital cameras, smartphones and accessible editing software (often in-built into these very devices) allow people to pretend for maybe a moment that they're taking that close-up wank-shot from the frontcover of last month's Gourmet Traveller/delicious/Saveur, just like blogging lets some people make believe that they're honest to gawd journalists.

It's even more inappropriate in a fine dining restaurant, because they're one of the very last places where some sort of vestigial decorum is expected to hold. I don't care if someone rarely has the chance to attend fine dining; having to see him photographing every item makes the whole thing declasse for other diners like having to watch him licked the jus from his knife with relish, just to make sure that he was extracting every last atom of value from the precious experience.

Maybe. I mean, culturally and all, Australians are laid back. Even at a fine dining level--and I've been to a few places in Sydney and Melbourne--I've only encountered maybe two? three? places that are truly formal (Vue de Monde and est., for locals). Photography doesn't seem barbaric in, say, even a place as well-regarded as Attica or Quay or Marque (all on the San Pellegrino list, for context). I can see how it might be inappropriate in other contexts but I've never felt that it was a sign of behaving badly in these restaurants in the same way, say, being really noisy always is.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect that the desire to photograph one's dinner is a response to a few things. Firstly, there's the obvious social media influence. You can very easily share any and all aspects of your life with your friends, family, random people via imgur/deviantart/et al. There's that. Secondly, if celebrity chefs acquire (well, some of them) 'rock star' status, again, it's natural. Thirdly, especially if it's a fine dining restaurant, a lot of effort has (hopefully) gone into how the food is presented: not just how it's plated but also it's probably interesting in terms of ingredients/techniques/et al. I can see how people would want to take a photo of that. And, too, a fine dining experience isn't inexpensive. It's kind of a big deal for many people. Also, digital cameras, smartphones and accessible editing software (often in-built into these very devices) allow people to pretend for maybe a moment that they're taking that close-up wank-shot from the frontcover of last month's Gourmet Traveller/delicious/Saveur, just like blogging lets some people make believe that they're honest to gawd journalists.

It's even more inappropriate in a fine dining restaurant, because they're one of the very last places where some sort of vestigial decorum is expected to hold. I don't care if someone rarely has the chance to attend fine dining; having to see him photographing every item makes the whole thing declasse for other diners like having to watch him licked the jus from his knife with relish, just to make sure that he was extracting every last atom of value from the precious experience.

Every time I see it, it infuriates me. It makes me want to throw a carafe and scream, "It's not a new-born child; it's a fucking fondant, for chrissakes. What sort of moronic, vacuous existences do you people live!?"

Meh. it's my food. If I want to commission an artist to paint a portrait of it for me, what's the big deal?

Do it at home. At a restaurant, 'Meh. it's my food' doesn't hold, unless you're so utterly self-absorbed that you think that your table constitutes a perfectly sealed little bubble of reality, within which you have a divinely-granted right to do as you please: to photograph, answer calls, speak as loudly as you will, or whatever.

As long as I don't use flash other tables will most of the time don't even recognize that I photograph my food. I simply like to to document what I eat (and I do the same at home) so I don't see what the problem is if I do it discretely in any restaurant. I don't think that taking a photo of my food discretely (which is the key word) will diminish your restaurant experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take pictures in restaurants because I have a food blog (mostly for my own entertainment, as I don't think anybody besides my mom reads it). But you'd have to be watching me really closely to see it - small hand-held camera, no flash, and only one or two shots. (I want to eat the food while it's still hot!) Anyone who is watching closely enough to be bothered by me taking pictures ought to be minding his or her own business.


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

Visit my food blog! http://goodformeblog.blogspot.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, kids, play nice ...

Seems to me there are various factors involved here. Certainly there is a degree of rudeness, intended or otherwise, in using flash in a restaurant, but mostly I wonder if it's not just plan ignorance/technical incompetence/call it what you will - many people probably don't know how to turn flash off!

I've noticed many times people taking photos of (or from) cruise ships, in sports stadiums or - my favourite - of Wellington harbour from Mount Victoria, all using flash ... which isn't going to have the slightest effect at the distances involved. It's probably the same in a restaurant; although avoiding flash would almost certainly (a) improve the photo and (b) make the act of taking it more discreet, people just don't know how to turn it off.

I have no problem with people documenting every moment of their lives, if they must, as long as they don't bring me into the process. But as for restaurants imposing a blanket ban on all photography - bad idea.

[Edited for a speling misteak]


Edited by lesliec (log)

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, kids, play nice ...

Seems to me there are various factors involved here. Certainly there is a degree of rudeness, intended or otherwise, in using flash in a restaurant, but mostly I wonder if it's not just plan ignorance/technical incompetence/call it what you will - many people probably don't know how to turn flash off!

I've noticed many times people taking photos of (or from) cruise ships, in sports stadiums or - my favourite - of Wellington harbour from Mount Victoria, all using flash ... which isn't going to have the slightest effect at the distances involved. It's probably the same in a restaurant; although avoiding flash would almost certainly (a) improve the photo and (b) make the act of taking it more discreet, people just don't know how to turn it off.

I have no problem with people documenting every moment of their lives, if they must, as long as they don't bring me into the process. But as for restaurants imposing a blanket ban on all photography - bad idea.

[Edited for a speling misteak]

I am always surprised that people talk about using flash in restaurants. We go all the times to different types of restaurants and take pictures of our food and see other people doing the same and i can't remember when we saw the last time anybody using the flash in a restaurant. I don't think that this is an issue anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.