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Photography Bans at Restaurants?


Foodie Moment
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I don't like the implication that chefs banning photography must be scared or pretentious. It's just as likely that they are reacting to a lack of common sense by diners. A perfect example occurred when we were at Eleven Madison Park a few months ago. We'd ordered the whole chicken, and the server presented it to the table prior to plating. It was a beautiful specimen, with impeccably burnished skin. As she was returning it to the kitchen, a diner at another table stopped her and got up with a large camera and took several photos of the chicken, asking her to pose it this way and that. For my wife and I, the laugh at the time was worth whatever delay might have resulted, but I could see another person being upset by their food being gawked at and held hostage by the inconsiderate photog.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Le Master, All:

I think that Grant gave a good summary of the problem: a few pictures are fine, even good. But there's a line; when you're using tripods or have a video camera glued to your hand, or videoing the staff, that's going to far.

Direct link: http://alineamosaic.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=919&st=0

Frankly, I'm a little shocked; I can't imagine someone setting up a tripod in the middle of dinner service and would support the staff throwing this person out. If you work for a real publication and need professional-quality photos of the food, make a darned appointment.

I guess the real problem is that restaurants are afraid to criticize, stop, or throw out paying customers who are being obnoxious. It's not the camera, it's being an insensitive (if enthusiastic) jerk. Several restaurantiers suggested an interesting solution; cameras are strongly discouraged, but the restaurant offers free high-quality digital pictures of the night's plated dishes to any diner who asks for them. Heck, at an expensive restaurant, you could even sell/give away USB keys.

The Fuzzy Chef

www.fuzzychef.org

Think globally, eat globally

San Francisco

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I thought you were using flash these days David. Your photos have improved a lot recently.-new camera?

I'm glad someone has noticed :wink:

I have invested in this little beauty, which just fits comfortably in two pockets so I do not arrive at a restaurant looking like a tourist.

Unfortunately its not doing the business for me in low light, perhaps its pilot error, you will see the results when I review the Helene Darroze meal.

The NEX5 is a nice camera, but the lack of good noise filtering for low light is an issue. I'm really happy with my Canon S90 on that. And in keeping with the other commentary, I never use a flash - complete detracts from the meal for others, plus it produces crappy pictures.

One thing I have used in the past is an Olympus camera which had a built in LED light (for super macro use), but added enough light locally to make taking images in low light a bit more viable. Problem was that the images captured by the camera were not particularly good.

Jake

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I seem to recall at Alinea, in June 2009, when I asked about taking photos, I was told to go ahead, but no video. That request makes sense now in retrospect after seeing Achatz's post.

But a tripod on the table (or next to it)? Eek! That's terribly. Jerks like that give us all a bad name.

Jake

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People discreetly taking pictures don't bother me. People making a big show of taking pictures or being obnoxious about getting "the perfect picture" do bother me (in some settings, obviously there are places where it's more appropriate).

The excuse that "I'm a food blogger" should make no difference at all. There are at least 1.3245 billion of those, 97% of which average 3 viewers or less a week. So that shouldn't buy a free pass to be annoying. The excuse that "I'm being paid to take pictures" shouldn't make a difference either. That has nothing to do with the other customers in the restaurant at the time.

Basically, I'm not particularly for the idea of banning photography in restaurants but I'm not really sure how you would weed out the rude and inconsiderate (even if they are the minority) by other means.

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

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I've been thinking alot of how to weed out the inconsiderate photographers too.

There's no one to enforce such rules but the restaurant itself.

So how about a "disclaimer" on the front of the menu reminding patrons that photography of your own food is allowed, but that consideration of the other guests is paramount. Flashes, tripods, and awkward stances are not allowed except with prior consent. Oh, and also to put your cellphones on "silent", and when using cellphones to speak in a normal volume.

Thus warned, the staff/owners might have some kind of leverage in dealing with guests who refuse to be considerate to the other diners.

For the record, in Vancouver alone there are 150 or so food blogs. If I had a dollar for every e-mail I recived asking for freebies so as to do a blog, I'd be a rich man now.....

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Jake,

I so nearly bought the Canon S90 as its so pocketable and has great reviews. A few people steered me towards the Sony and it is a great step up from my old point and shoot. I will persevere with it, as its a done deal now. I took some shots over the weekend at three restaurants on different settings, without flash and some are quite a bit better than others.

Not one complaint ensued from staff, chefs, customers.

Long may it continue. I would rather post a photo, as my vocab is not what I would wish for.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I've been thinking alot of how to weed out the inconsiderate photographers too.

There's no one to enforce such rules but the restaurant itself.

So how about a "disclaimer" on the front of the menu reminding patrons that photography of your own food is allowed, but that consideration of the other guests is paramount. Flashes, tripods, and awkward stances are not allowed except with prior consent. Oh, and also to put your cellphones on "silent", and when using cellphones to speak in a normal volume.

Thus warned, the staff/owners might have some kind of leverage in dealing with guests who refuse to be considerate to the other diners.

For the record, in Vancouver alone there are 150 or so food blogs. If I had a dollar for every e-mail I recived asking for freebies so as to do a blog, I'd be a rich man now.....

I think the disclaimer approach is a good one (but maybe at the bottom of the last menu page instead of up front with your branding.

Do food bloggers seriously ask for free meals? That's pretty terrible. I remember as a computer journalist that the publications I wrote for were adamant that vendors do not taint the review process in any way - unless the item we were review was less expensive than the cost of shipping it back we had to send back all of our review hardware and software. A free meal would certainly be a taint. Alas, ethics in the modern Internet era leave a lot to be desired...

Jake

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Sadly, yes.

Basically there are two kinds of foodie bloggers in Vancouver, the non-pro ones who usually have some kind of a job, and the "pro" bloggers.

The non-pro ones are a joy. They come in un announced, order what they want, snap a simple photo or two, and a week later you get a e-mail telling you that you've been featured on their site.

The "pro" boggers e-mail you first, telling you that they want to do a blog on you and request free whatever. I was recently aproached by one such blogger who not only wanted a free meal for himself, but for his mother too. This is dangerous territory because such bloggers also "dabble" in: Web design, photography, food styling, "branding", "business consulting" and "trouble shooting". These services are listed on their website. They also have no qualms about informing me how popular their websites are, and what kind of results a positive blog would have.

In the end the way I dealt with the blogger+mom was to offer the free meal but only offer a 10% discount for his mother. Confused the bee-jesus out of him. He reserved and canceled several times, and finally canceled for good.

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