Debate: Should You Stop Taking Photos of Your Restaurant Meals?

Discussion in 'The Late Night Cafe (off-topic)' started by pollopicu, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    I read this article on First We Feast (and several other ones on the topic since) and thought it a provoking subject to discuss. What are your thoughts on patrons who take photos of their foods in restaurants, both from a restaurant owners point of view, and a patrons pov?

    I admit I've been guilty of this in the past, but way before iphones and twitter even existed. I'm an original shutter-bug. I don't have a FB (anymore) or twitter account (ever), and I also don't own an iphone or android. The pictures I've taken have been with a point and shoot, saved on my computer and perhaps shared in the food section of a forum. The times that I have taken pictures of food in restaurants, I have been extremely discreet because I've always thought it weird (and unique to my personality) to take pictures of food. Now it's a trend that has exploded with instagram accounts (of which I also don't have). By the way, is it just me or do instagram pictures make food look unappealing and sometimes downright unappetizing? some people however, have no shame, and i would have to say that if I were dining out and saw someone standing on their chair to get the money shot, I would roll my eyes until I severed optical nerves.

    It's tempting not to take pictures of your food, your experience, but now that I know how uncouth this trend is becoming, I don't think I'll be doing this again, at least not in higher end restaurants. For me it's always been about the food, but I realize for others it's more about showing off to their friends.

    As a caterer and sometimes cook and chef, I'd be concerned by people sharing unflattering food pictures due to the fact they are not a photographer. there have been many a times where i have made a beautiful dish but doesn't translate well in photos. Otherwise, I'd be flattered someone would want to in the first place. My main concern would be the comfort of other diners, so I would ban it if it became problematic or tacky.

    http://firstwefeast.com/eat/debate-should-you-stop-taking-photos-of-your-restaurant-meals/

    Here are other links on the subject:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/re...-ban-food-flash-photography/story?id=18302662

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762105

    What are your thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
  2. thor

    thor

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    I take pics, particularly when I go to a place that I've been anticipating for some time (ie; first time at Peter Lugers, which I  had been wanting to go to for over 2 years...parenthood, bills, etc...don't get to the places I nearly as often as I'd like), But I've always followed 3 rules for myself (below). Occasionally, I do get told no, but sometimes the mere asking makes it an even better reward...I had a chef come out once who said he appreciated hearing compliments,shook my hand, and an extra dessert found its way too our table (might be no big deal to some, but it made my night [even without the dessert]), had one bring the plate back to kitchen where it was brightly lit, and he held it out (one of my faves) one declined my request, but thanked me for asking "rather than whip out a camera and snap away".  

    I know some here might roll their eyes, but as someone who admires the craft, and the talent (and strive to be one fifth of some of the Chefs who I've the pleasure of experiencing), I look at it as no different than snapping a pic of someones artwork (always WITH their permission...no exceptions).

    My 3 rules:

    1. Ask the waiter if it is ok

    2. same with Chef 

    3. If adjoining tables, or someone who would be affected, I won't do 1 or 2 unless that table is ok with it....no reason for someone to get blinded by a flash...I do try and avoid flash, but some places you can't. (ie; I usually aim flash toward wall....if there is a table in line with flash, I won't take unless they are ok with it). If the adjoining table say it's fine, I thank them, and offer to buy their next drink. 

    Corny? Probably...but knock on wood, I've yet to run into any problems, and I have momentos to remind me of those visits /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  3. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    I think you and I are both examples of the exception.

    I'm not knocking it. I'm the queen of taking food pictures. I have the files to prove it. The rolling of the eyes was a hypothetical reaction to seeing people going out of their way, (ie. standing on their seat,as stated in the article) interrupting other guests to get the "perfect" shot of their food, and at times the food of others.

    I read that Alinea doesn't allow photographs, so I'm obviously not going sneak one in there, and look the fool. But if I went to Peter Lugers (been there) I think it's safe to say they are a much more casual environment. and way too busy and noisy to care. Not to mention you probably wouldn't need flash since the place is so damn bright. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif

    But in reference to it being "no different than snapping a pic of someones artwork", well...there are a lot of museums that don't allow you to take photographs either. I'll give you a perfect example..my life's dream was to visit The National Gallery of Art in London. Years and years of hoping and wishing I could one day. Well last year I had the opportunity, over hell and high water I got there and made my way through Trafalgar Square, armed with my camera, empty sim card, full battery. Get to the door....."sorry Madam, but no pictures are allowed".../img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif wuuuht? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crying.gif

    I literally walked around the lobby for a good 5 minutes absorbing the fact that I had traveled across the world to my favorite museum and wasn't allowed to take photographs. To make a long story short, I'm glad camera's weren't allowed because for once I was able to actually enjoy the art instead of walking around looking through a lens, instead of spending one on one time, face to face with the art I had traveled thousands of miles to see.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
    thor likes this.
  4. thor

    thor

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    LOL, I didn't mean your example of rolling eyes...but I figured you've probably seen it plenty. and even a shutterbug like me couldn't imagine standing up to snap a shot, let alone on a chair. But I could see some folks doing that. I don't do the instagram or facebook pics of my food....seems too much like bragging, if that makes sense, almost in a way it seems like it' saying "I can afford this, and you cant". I know that's not always the motive, but I wish some used more discretion....If more approached it in a common sense way, with consideration towards others, photographing food would be a non-issue. But I think we live in a day and age where some feel that paying for that meal is a ticket to entitle then to used that dining room as they wish. Which makes it hard for folks like you and I who 

    I realized the art analogy sounded flawed after I sent it...I don't know what else to compare it to LOL. I'm hoping some Chefs will write in to see how they feel...In 8 years of being a huge food nut, I've only had one Chef get testy about taking a pic when I asked. I didn't push the issue, told him sorry and I respect his decision, and left it at that. Most others sounded like they appreciated being asked first. 

    ...Lugers was fairly easy due to lighting. I can say 2 of Jose Garces restaurants allowed me to photograph the food at Village Whiskey and Amada (Whiskey is one spot I bought a drink for a couple sitting next to use on the common table...had a great food conversation with them as well)..couple others I can't think of (not near my home comp). 
     
  5. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    I think there's also a difference between true epicureans who honestly enjoy studying the art of food, and cutesy blogger girls (and sometimes boys) who have to take pictures of every empty park swing, every solitary leaf that blows in the wind, the passing blue sky (in sepia), and even their own feet. Those are truly the ones to blame. They are the ones that go into restaurants and need a personal lighting director before taking their first bite. I guess that was the image I was rolling my eyes at in my head. lol

    Thor, not to get off the subject, I noticed you're from Philly.. You have the best ice cream in the world! Scoop Deville! have you been there? their vanilla ice cream is to die for.
     
  6. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Top of my head, I'll prolly have more to add later....

    First, they can blame it on "our surrounding patrons' discomfort" all they want, I dont buy it.

    I see it as ego, arrogance and....shortsightedness. Adage: "a picture is worth a thousand words"...

    eg, "Oh wow we ate at this topnotch place the other night, they had this incredible salad, it was...with...

    and topped with.... well hard to describe, but it looked fabulous."

    versus... " Check out this pic of this salad they made us!"

    Answer: "Wow thats awesome whats this place again?... I have GOT to take my gilrfriend there!" Point is obvious.

    And yes, I have done that myself....and yes, from seeing a pic.

    Now the opposite perspective....as a Sous/general cook, knowing my food is going to be snap-shotted (shooted? shate?)

    will make me for one, work that much harder to put out product that wil look "awesome" to whoever's vewing that pic.

    The argument that "theyre not a pro photographer" doesnt make sense to me... they're not creating

    you an advertising brochure now are they? I hardly think a blurry or poorly lit pic is going to keep someone FROM

    visiting your restaurant.

    And look at it this way-- how many instances of food snapping do you think are due to

    "Look at this hideous mess, dont ever go there." compared to being so happy and impressed

    with your food they want to preserve it for others to see.

    And if you ARE worried about the "hideous mess" perspective... well lol what are YOU doing wrong?
     
  7. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    First of all, why are you so mad?

    Second, one of the things I'm most fastidious about when it comes to my food, aside from flavor, is how well it's plated. So please do not make the assumption that just because I am concerned how an amateur will photograph my food, which I believe is a valid concern, that my food looks like **** when it's taken out. I myself have been out to eat at restaurants and ordered dishes beautifully presented and taken a picture and the picture did not do it justice, so I deleted them. You're going to tell me that that's never happened to you? because if it hasn't then you must also be an amazing photographer as well as an amazing cook.

    I think you need to take it down a few notches and maybe work on not sounding so aggressive in your posts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2013
  8. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    Case in point. Valid.

    http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2013/01/how-to-take-picture-restaurant-without-looking-jerk

    #4

    "Yes, part of the reason restaurants are banning food photography is because of the distraction element. But, there's likely another reason: They want their food to look good. Taking an ugly cell phone shot of a complex plate in a dark restaurant is less than ideal. So, when you share that photo with the world, their food ends up looking bad. You could attach a caption like, "Best steak ever!" but if the picture makes your beef look like dog food, it's still not going to be good for business. It also makes you look like a bad photographer."
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  9. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    thor likes this.
  10. thor

    thor

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    That was a good article. Looks like Stan and I think alike :)

    In a sister article (same author, same day, related subject), One of the paragraphs reads "one interviewee says she gets "irritated" with her dad when "he shoots with his large, cumbersome camera strapped across his chest." (source: http://www.popphoto.com/news/2013/01/restaurants-banning-customers-taking-pictures-their-food). That is the stuff that drives me a little bonkers. I know that not everyone has a more modern phone with a decent camera (Droids 3& up, Iphone 4 & up, etc) but bringing a SLR in to snap a photo comes off, well...pompous. Not only is it showing the diner has assumed it would be ok to take a pic, the noise, light, etc is far more intrusive. Pics from a small p&s come out fine, one can darken the screen (another one of Stans tips), and it can be discreetly carried in a pocket.  

    Quote:
    YES!! That was along my line of thinking as well (mine was more "food geek vs. duck-lip chicks"...it sounded too biased towards girls, so I avoided bringing it up) They are the ones that get my blood boiling...a little common courtesy from them, and we wouldn't even have this thread. But we know that the world revolves around them, and we are selfish to expect them to not express themselves (managed to type that without gagging). As an aside, pop photo also had a great food photography tips article (http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2012/07/tips-pro-jeff-kauck ). Granted, the ones that SHOULD be reading it could care less, but I might keep a copy handy when I go out with DW, and discreetly leave at the table of anyone coming in with a camera strapped across their chest /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

    I never heard of Scoop Deville! I avoid dairy for reasons I won't post (I do occasionally cheat though), but family loves it. Thanks for the tip!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    Also, who was mad? I didn't get that from Meez's post...I read that as his being in favor (and critical of the folks criticizing food pics)
     
  11. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Eeeek. THANK YOU Kaneohgirlinaz....and Thor...for just KNOWING me. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  For tongue in cheek is just what I am, and was.

    Over 260 posts here and I believe that's the first time Ive been accused of being aggressive. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif

    Sometimes I think it would behoove me to BE more aggressive.

    But hey I guess that's what I get for getting lazy and not making generous use of these great emoticons. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif

    Although,  Ive re-read my posts and still cant ferret out the "mad" in it, even without Moties. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif

    Okay all that said, including complete lack of anger or aggression declared, the ego arraogance and shortsightedness

    I mentioned, I was referring to the high end industry in general. And certainly not a particular person. And certainly not

    in here. So how I can be assuming something about someone when I wasnt TALKING about someone escapes me.

    Well wasnt, except in a general sense.

    And when one starts a thread and asks for opinions that's probably what theyre gonna get. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

     Mine being....(more simply put) ....

    I personally dont care of anyone photographs my food. And if they screw up the photo, I dont care about that either.

    However, if I find photo taking to be distracting, then I would treat it as any other distraction (like food fights!) ...

    I would ask for abstinance. My perogative. I see a restaurant's job as serving a product to be enjoyed and consumed

    on the premises. Not to be sure that others are impressed by a pic of it--"others" who arent here enjoying it, as well

    as the service, ambience, etc, not to mention paying for it. The fact is, I dont consider ANY photos of food, even

    professsional ones, to BE a particularly good advertisement for what we do--no matter how good the foto,

    it never really does it justice.

    And reclaiming the art anaolgy for a moment.....it never does art justice either. IMO.

    If you ask me, I find a proper description, like on a menu, to be a more effective motivator to order it than a pic.
    I truly can't figure out how this was derived from my post.

    "And if you ARE worried about the "hideous mess" perspective... well lol what are YOU doing wrong?"

    This was not a you-you, this was a general collective, rhetorical you.

    And it was more or less, a (non-aggressive) joke. (and that one has an lol in it)

    One more thing....I also personally consider this to be a light-hearted, non serious topic.

    And such was my attitude when first I noticed it and posted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  12. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    If I misconstrued it I truly apologize. It was late, I was momentarily stressed about an upcoming event, and perhaps I was a bit sensitive, so I formally apologize, Meeznplaz.

    Thor, the "duck-lips" girls.... There was an article written by Katherine Markovich, that is pretty hilarious. It's called "An Open Letter to People Who Take Pictures of Food With Instagram".

    http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/an-open-letter-to-people-who-take-pictures-of-food-with-instagram

    Seriously, when I think of annoying patrons who take pictures (plural) of their food, I think of these types of girls.

    You know, ever since these articles started coming out I've stopped taking pictures in restaurants, and now focus on taking pictures of my own foods at home or at work. Of course I suck as a photographer, so now I'm struggling with how to take better pictures of my food without manipulating the photos with editing. I've been a shutterbug for many years, but my subjects were mostly of candid family and friends. Have to learn macro settings now...oy.
     
  13. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Apology acknowledged, I really wasnt on a mission to get one, more like just wanted to clarify

    my intentions and meanings. But it's appreciated nonetheless, thank you. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  And while we're

    at it, I suppose I should offer a reciprocol apology for rushing my post, i.e., not thoroughly

    reading all posts first, to be sure I worded my post right. I usually do, but I was a victim of late

    and tired too. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif  Written forums are hard to convey meanings properly, (Ive seen some BRUTAL

    intra company email wars for instance) that's WHY they've supplied emoticons here, and it's actually

    a pretty good set. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

    Now then....
    Well it all starts first with what kind of camera youre using. And assuming it's now a digital one,

    whats the resolution?  IMO, anything under 8.0 megapixels is tough to retain acceptable clarity, especially

    at macro ranges. Another factor is the "speed"-- too slow a camera will greatly magnify any at

    all camera-shake at close ranges. This may not even "look" blurry, it can be subtle--just doesnt "look right".

    So if it's an older dig-cam, for close up youd be better of fusing a tripod, and the self timer so your hands

    arent anywhere NEAR that thing when the shutter trips.

    Next of course is lighting--a dinky lil flash CAN work, since it's close up, but a wrongly designed flash

    in a cheap camera can cause it's own set of problems. In that case, better to turn the flash off, and

    control the lighting externally, while using the lowest light settings your camera provides. Again,

    you'll most likely need a tripod for stability.

    In a nutshell, the typical problems with bad food pics are:

    --blurry/out of focus

    --colors not right

    --"lighting" not right, like weird shadows etc.

    Problem is, food is somethig we eat--unlike landscapes or even closeup insect shots for instance.

    Which means that if the hues, focus etc are even a LITTLE off,(compared to what our eyes actually see)

     it just doesnt appeal to our visual "food sense".... and the photo is basically ruined.

    Suitable equipment aside, KNOWING your camera is essential. Take MANY test shots

    at home to fine tune what youre doing and learn the quirks of your cam--waiting

    til it's time to serve, and trying to get a rush shot before it's out the door or ravaged by the guests,

    is obviously the not so good way to do it. (and yes, Ive done that many times and regretted it lol)

    --Meez
     
  14. pollopicu

    pollopicu

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    I have two camera's. I use a Nikon point and shoot, which takes pretty good food pictures so long as there's plenty of natural lighting, although there is a food setting on it that is totally useless. It takes blurry pictures...and even with a tripod, the colors are off.

    I also have a Nikon D50, and I don't know what the hell happened to that camera because it used to take some pretty awesome shots....it still does, but again, only in natural light. I think it needs a professional tune-up.

    Yeah, rush shots right before service in an artificially lit kitchen after the sun goes down never looks good. I've tried too. lol
     
  15. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Nikon has always made the best cams imo, and I still have a great old Nikon SLR...... but film....UGH!

    The D50's not a bad cam, for being introduced 7 or 8 years ago....6 megapixels thereabouts.

    It certainly should be capable of decent foodography pics, does sound like it means maintenance as you said.

    I have a kodak 8 Mp dig-slr which does well especially for portrait work, but my mini 12.2 mpxl kodak rocks in

    macro mode. If I could aquire a more current DigSLR and I think Id be perfectly happy.

    But the Sony Cybershot 16mpxl is thee smartest (smart chip) camera Ive ever worked with to date.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  16. thor

    thor

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    8MP is definitely a good starting point for the food pics. And Pollopicu, even if you have to use slower speeds due to lighting, if you think like Macgyver, there's a hundred tripods available if you need em....rest the cam on coffee cup, wine glass, salt shakers....just about anything to get your phone at the height you need /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  17. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    This is a great discussion thanks for bringing it up. While I never really considered it from a chef perspective I will tell you that from a diners perspective I am torn. Generally I dislike it simply because it disrupts the flow of the meal. I mean the chefs strive to serve hot food hot and when people take time to snap photos it is cooling down. Minor point but one worth mentioning I think. The other side is when I have eaten at landmark restaurants like when I was in Paris at La Tour D'argent we took photos. And to this day we often look back on those pictures and have fond memories of that meal.I find though that I don't do that with other photos we have taken of food. 

    As for people taking ratty photos of your food I would be more worried that they describe it incorrectly. Plus even the worst photos still look great in my opinion with the camera technology that is out there. I guess my final thought is I would rather there not be any photo snapping during the meal to me it is just as annoying as someone chatting on their phone during the meal. 
     
  18. jim berman

    jim berman

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    I am a definite restaurant addict! I enjoy the experience and really relish sharing the experience with others. A great way to do that is through capturing images of the experience. So, I take pictures. At the same time, I am respectful to, say, the customers around me, my guests and the operators of the restaurant. I use a high-res pocket camera or 8MP camera phone. I wouldn't drag out my big camera rig unless I have made arrangements with the management of the restaurant; it would be awkward, at best, and rude, at worst, to do otherwise. I think people realize that these are 'snapshots' versus professional images when I am capturing 'off the cuff.' It is flattery to have the experience shared with others. It is advertising, simply put.


     
  19. jake t bud

    jake t bud

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    Something that hasn't been discussed.

    What about intellectual copyright? I am not an owner operator or chef, but if I were, and someone were talking pictures of my food, I would wonder about that person using it as reference. When you go to a movie, you consume the product on the premises, and not video tape it for later. Either to view it later or for posterity and the "memories." That's why you "pay" for it on dvd.

    I understand the idea of wanting to relive a meal, but having a computer full of pictures of thousands of meals is something that can be used as reference. I also understand that as a working chef, each dish/menu is transient and constantly evolving, but if somebody takes pictures of all the food and then uses plating methods or ingredient combinations in their next menu - then what? How would you feel if you were copied? Often? Since I am not a pro chef, I don't know what the prevailing attitude is towards sharing trade secrets. It seems it's not that big a deal.

    Secondly, the wondrous part about food is that the experience is when you eat it. Like listening to a live jazz performance (that's not recorded). It's a fleeting moment to be enjoyed at that moment. Why the need to document everything? Maybe it's just not my thing.

    Not trying to be judgmental, just asking.
     
  20. kaneohegirlinaz

    kaneohegirlinaz

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    I have FIVE flash drives chock-full of strictly food pix,

    and that’s only been complied in the last two years.

    I love all things food, shopping, preparing, sharing, dining out, take-away, you name it.

    I enjoy looking back at these photos as food stirs memories.  'Oh yeah, that’s the time we were in the Grand Canyon and we did this and that and we ate' …