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Special K

Does taking food photos bother customers or staff?

88 posts in this topic

Those that know me know that I love food photography, but if I'm in a restaurant, while I do use my big honkin' SLR, I'm pretty firm on several things: (1) No flash, ever, since it annoys other diners, and generally doesn't result in good food photography anyway, and (2) Don't get between other people and their food. I might take a bit of time with my plate, but it's just rude to expect someone else to delay their eating due to my camera fetish. :)

The primary reason I do the food photography, however, is that I like to show people the food that they are likely to get if they go to a place. Not the gussied up pictures (or craptacular pictures, for some places) on the places website or menu.

And FWIW, I'm okay with a restaurant ban on cameras if the owner really thinks it interferes with the enjoyment (David Chang has had some great screeds about this).

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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

Recently being dined by my 4 sons , partners and children at a Raymond Blanc Resto, we were in our own pod. photos, were taken, laughter was the rule and the staff did us proud, ready to respond at any moment to our needs. It was a lunch to remember, We did not interact with other clients, and also noise levels were kept low. (no chefs were harmed during this event)


Who cares how time progresses..

Today I am drinking ale.

(Edgar Allen Poe)

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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.

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.

Assuming a person doesn't use flash and doesn't stand on their chair or something, if you actually notice a person at another table taking a picture of their food or licking their knife, then you're the one breaking "decorum" by actually watching diners at other tables. You should exercise appropriate "decorum" by focusing on your own meal and your own companions.

I don't take pictures of restaurant food that often. That being said, there are times I like to do so. I would have a problem with a restaurant that forbids it. Of course, there are times I eat at restaurants alone as well, and I like to sit at a table and read (and if someone, god forbid, calls me, I might even answer the phone!), which I'm sure is not "appropriate" behavior in many places.

Of course, I think the aversion to photography is partially this idea that technology is "rude". I've had people in situations tell me that I was being rude because I was talking on my cell phone in a public place (indeed, this even happened to me on the train once). Generally those same people are standing/sitting next to someone else, carrying on a conversation just as loudly as I was speaking, if not louder. But because the person I was speaking to is in a different location, and I had to use technology to speak to them, I was being rude. Usually I ask those people if they think I was being rude because they could only listen in on one side of my conversation instead of the whole thing :raz:

If a chef wants to prohibit photography, then I think they should provide (even by email, if they want) photographs of the meals for people.

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Free advertising for me. Also somewhat flattering when people would take a picture of something I've made.


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

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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Friend emailed me this photo

http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk/blog/?attachment_id=229

If I am not aware of another diner taking a photo, then it is fine. But when they start flexing their elbows, then it becomes annoying.

Personally I will rarely take photos of my plate, unless the food resembles genitalia or something funny. For me there is something a bit impolite about photographing your dinner in a public place, but then I am English and was brought up not to put my elbows on the table.


Edited by PSmith (log)

http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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I used to feel a bit awkward taking photos in restaurants but now I just go ahead. It is a compliment to a well-presented dish.

It still attracts some odd looks but if you are going to write about food then you need pictures to go with it. Plus we live in a social media age where sharing is everything.


Neil Morris

Editor

Delicious Spanish Recipes

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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next time I'm at the French Laundry I'll bring two off camera flashes and a tripod :laugh:


"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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When I first saw that video I fell off my couch laughing. So spot on.


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

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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How about the trend of reproving foodies now taking pictures of people taking pictures of food, I've written a bit about it here. I have to admit, it's quite funny. I'm now starting the trend of pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of food.

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