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
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
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:
- "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.
- Respect the rules. If they ask you not to take pictures,
don't. It's their establishment after all.
- Make it fast. One or two frames should do. No one wants
to see you make a production of the photography.
- 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