Monday, February 17, 2014

The Debate of Taking Photos in Restaurants

My photo taken by my Samsung Galaxy III in Cafe Sabarsky 

I just read an article in The Telegraph titled "French chefs hit back at 'food porn' photos in their restaurants" and it had me thinking maybe a post was in order on this very talked about subject. Some of the points brought up in this article are interesting, to say the least.

I take photos of food just about everywhere. Well, not just food, but many things. Since I started this blog in December of 2009, my photographing has increased quite a bit. I want to be able to show you what I find, what great places I visit, and the gorgeous food they offer. I take photos with a Canon Rebel camera as well as my Samsung Galaxy III phone.

When I go into a place, if I am planning to shoot a variety of shots for a post, I will advise the folks working there why I am taking the photos. Some places are not keen on visitors taking photos, not just restaurants. When I do this, I either get an okay from the staff, or a no and I adhere to their wishes. When I shoot photos of my food in restaurants or cafes, I am pretty quick. I do not stand on a chair, or re-position the table to get my shot. I do my best to be quiet about it, if I am using my Canon camera, the flash is always off. When I use my phone, the flash can be turned off there as well, sometimes the phone does better than the Canon, if you would believe. I do not take endless shots of something. I take a few, and then I am done. I am not keen on bothering folks dining at the place by causing a commotion. I was in a La Maison du Chocolat one day, and got this great drink I had to shoot, and these girls next to me said "Oh cool, you photograph your food too. So do we."

I would hope my photos encourage my readers to maybe give a thought to visiting that restaurant. If a restaurant made a no-photography policy would it make me not visit? Possibly. I can understand a very exclusive high-end restaurant doing something like this, where the checks run $500.00, but I don't see it as a positive move. I think it is hard to control folks to photograph, but in a polite manner. It reminds me of in a museum where they say "No flash photography" yet people still do it and have to be reminded.

The article talks about the photography being bad of their dishes. I do not know about you, but most of the food photography I see on blogs, and my favorite photo site Instagram, are quite good. Every once in a while, I will come across a bad shot. If I do see a bad photo, I do not blame the chef, I blame the person taking the photo, and I don't really use that as a good reference of what the food is like at that establishment. The other comment I found interesting is that someone can copy their dish. I think that is quite silly as a photograph is not going to tell someone how the food tastes and what has gone into the dish. I personally cannot re-create a dish from a photograph.

I do not see this trend ending any time soon. Social media and the internet is just growing and growing, it is the way many folks find their news and what is the hottest restaurant or craze to try. I wish there could be a way the two could meet in the middle to make both parties happy.

What are your thoughts on this highly debated subject? I have found articles on this from back in 2008, so it is quite a talked about subject. I would love to hear some of your thoughts here, and do you think the restaurants are correct in their complaints?

Today's Words of Wisdom: “Manners are of more importance than laws. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Statesman, Author, Philosopher

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miss b said...

I really enjoyed this post and I have given this issue much thought. Like you, I can't resist taking a very quick photo of a beautiful cake or beautifully presented food but I like to think I am very discreet. If it's a display, then I often ask if I may take a picture and explain why. If it's a restaurant rather than a café, whether I take a photo depends on the venue and the occasion. I don't tend to take photos if we are out with friends either.
PS I wish I could recreate a wonderful dish just from a photo!!

Barbara said...

Hi! I like to take pics of my food when I'm out at a restaurant. Sometimes I post them to Foodspotting and Instagram. I haven't been frowned at yet or told to not take pics.

Lisa Gordon said...

If one is being respectful of others, I don't see anything wrong with it at all.

Now don't get me wrong here, Rosemary, because I love kids and have 2 of my own, but I have also been in many a swanky restaurant, and been seated next to a tantrum throwing child, and no one is saying anything about it. It is some of these self-same restaurants who are "fussing" about food photographers. Enough already!

Besides, what would I do if I could not come here and gain weight by just looking at all of the wonderful goodies you photograph?????


nycstylelittlecannoli said...

I agree Lisa that I think if the photographer respects the other folks in the restaurant, it should not be an issue. The children in a restaurant is a great example, I have had so many where they are running around like crazy people, and it really ruins a nice dinner.
I think the chefs are being a bit picky about the subject. If people are causing that much of an issue, just say something to them but don't ruin it for others who can do it in a classy way.

Bren Haas said...

I love your words of wisdom for the day. I think the most important thing about photography in a restaurant is to not be rude... you know a flash going off at a really nice restaurant is so not cool! Thank you for the wonderful post ... I love your foodie images and shares daily on Twitter and Instagram - keep snappin!

The Fancy Lady said...

i try not to post food pictures to much ,but if you get something amazing and want to share why not. I don't see why they are so upset its helping with their business .If i see someone post something delicious looking i want to go find it and get it like the pretzel you posted i want that now lol . I'm going to the laduree tea room on thursday in soho and i read they don't like you taking photos you better believe i will be taking secret photos how can you not at a place like that lol

Pearls of Style said...

I take pictures much the same way you do but I always do feel as though people watch what you're doing. At least now the pressure doesn't seem quite so much what with social media and food porn is an accepted thing!

Krissie x -

Amanda said...

Yep - I just read a recent-ish article about Chicago restaurants and how some chefs "forbid" patrons from taking photos of their food. Their reasoning is because an amateur photographer makes their food look less appealing, photos are taken in a bad light, etc. I don't think I would even visit a restaurant that didn't let me photograph food I was PAYING for. Right?

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