Should restaurants ban taking food photos?


There is a growing dispute engulfing the food world – should taking food photos in restaurants be banned (such photos are now known as “foodstagrams”)? There are now multitudes of way to post photos immediately online,  and more and more restaurant diners are taking photos of their foods as the plates arrive. But, recently, some restaurants have banned the use of photography in their restaurants.

As first described in the New York Times in Restaurants Turn Camera Shy, “cameras have become as common as utensils.” And some photographers are being less than considerate to their dinner companions and others around them – using flash, standing on their chairs to take photos, refusing to let others try their food until their plates have been recorded, even setting up tripods. As a result, some high-end New York restaurants have taken to banning photos entirely.

The response is growing (a Mashable story on this has already elicited 154 responses) and seems divided between those who agree that such controls should be implemented, especially in high-end restaturants where ambience can be definitely disturbed by continuous flash bulbs, and those who regard taking photos of their food as part of the evening’s enjoyment. These diners also tend to mention that it’s free advertising for the restaurant, although given that many photos  really don’t effectively showcase the food, that is debatable.

Some chefs are responding creatively – David Bouley invites diners to take photos in the kitchen before the food comes out, but others just find it easier to impose an outright ban. So far, we think the best response is on Eatocracy where Mark Hill (Director of Photography for TBS) proposes some guidelines that if restaurants adopted and diners followed, should keep the situation from spinning out of control:

  1. “Please, no flash! Nothing will ruin the intimate mood of a restaurant or a photograph for that matter, like a bright on-camera flash. If it can’t be done with the existing lighting, put your camera away.
  2. Respect the rules. If they ask you not to take pictures, don’t. It’s their establishment after all.
  3. Make it fast. One or two frames should do. No one wants to see you make a production of the photography.
  4. Most importantly, don’t impact other diners’ enjoyment of their meal. Don’t ask others to wait so you can shoot their plate. Don’t stand on your chair (really?). Remember you are there to eat and enjoy the company of your tablemates, not expand your photography portfolio.”

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  • Cookingdiamond  on  January 29, 2013

    There,s nothing wrong with taking a photograph in a restaurant,we,ve all done it at one time, but it used to be of people not food. Why do people have to behave so badly these days, it,s time folk learned to behave with more consideration and respect for one another. Ask them to tone it down or kick them out.

  • Breadcrumbs  on  January 29, 2013

    No flash, no problem. IMHO.

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