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Restaurant photography, etiquette?

Can I ask about photography, I always wonder if it's ok to take photos in restaurants, I limit it to my food but I always want to take some of the place, menu..etc. Do you ask permission first or is it just an "ok" thing these days?

There are so many places I visit and upon leaving I regret not taking any shots but just don't know what is the etiquette. I've been told not to take photos in stores due to their "merchandise", and them not wanting it to be compared to other places but how is it with regard to restaurants?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences..

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  1. I take photos. I don't use a flash, and I don't take photos that show the faces of other diners or the staff. I also try to do it in such a way that nobody notices, and usually I'm successful.

    1. I take pics of restaurant interiors often when I'm on vacation. I always ask first and have never had a problem

      1. I have a camera with a cuisine setting and it is discreet. I rarely ask, in a lot of places they seem to expect it. If we are in a place with a pretty intimate seating, I'll forgo a shot or ask the people at the next table if it will bother them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Candy

          I am more agitated by those who take flash photos of themselves and friends out to eat. I have been blinded far to many times out to dinner and while working for a restaurant I was asked too many times to take these photos.
          Without a flash and with permission, I see no problems.

          1. re: TampaAurora

            Yeah, leave the flash the hell off and if you don't know how to do that please turn in your photographers badge.

            Some dude reviewed where I was working and took pictures of everything including yours truly, and when I saw that on the net it was pretty creepy. Very blurry picture but still creepy that he was just shooting me and I didn't see him and then hey, there I am. Ask the staff permission.

            Pictures of the food should probably also be kept to yourself and not posted since it takes a good eye for lighting to make most anything look photogenic and it does a disservice to the place to portray the food in a bad light (ha).

        2. I agree that if you are discrete, try to avoid taking pictures of other diners, avoid the flash if possible, that it should be fine.

          I was at a very nice restaurant on our last anniversary. We had asked for a quiet table because of the special occasion. And it was, until the table next to us arrived. They were taking picture after picture with flash (I'm sure there's a lovely selection of pictures with me in the background looking annoyed). THEN, they pulled out a photo printer and plugged it into the outlet beside our table and proceeded to print the photos they had just taken. Luckily, the waiter was able to move us to another table. The rude photo people were obviously friends of the owner, so it was better just to move away from them.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sooeygun

            This is why any good restaurant owner doesn't have any friends.

          2. I am somewhat conflicted about this, because I do enjoy seeing the photos that some of the more avid 'Hounds post on their reviews and blogs about restaurants. I will admit that even the most detailed account is improved with some well-photographed and appropriately chosen photos.

            At the same time, it definitely irks me and gets my ire up when I am paying for a certain dining experience and I end up feeling intruded upon by another table's photography. So I'll just post a few guidelines:

            If you care enough to take photos of the food, then invest enough to purchase a suitable camera that can accomplish your goals without a flash. And spend an hour or two learning how to use it. Do NOT intrude upon my party's mood with repeated flashes, and don't strain my patience and that of the waiter or busboy by not knowing how to set up the shot and which button to press when you draft them to take your group photo.

            Be discreet. No rearranging the furniture or stepping on top of a chair to get that elegant angled shot. If your picture-taking is being noticed, it is too intrusive.

            We are living in the era of digital photography. You do not need to pose multiple rows of guests and family and friends in a perfect pose. You are not burning film or paying for wasteful developing and printing. Take candid shots, be quick, be fast. Do NOT rope in the waiter or busboy we share for an extended photo session, followed by "as long as you are here" you can fill up drinks, etc. Your party is no more important than your neighboring tables.

            Which leads to my overall point regarding attitude: Taking pictures is a privilege, not a right. You are not doing favors to the staff or your neighboring tables, you are imposing. Believe it or don't, you are attracted to the restaurant because of something it offers; you are not going to make an significant increase in its popularity or bottom line with a few photos on your blog. So instead of feeling and projecting entitlement, exhibit some humility and appreciation.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nosh

              "Believe it or don't, you are attracted to the restaurant because of something it offers; you are not going to make an significant increase in its popularity or bottom line with a few photos on your blog."

              I have some photos on Flickr from restaurants (mainly pictures of the food, all taken without a flash), and I can see the statistics that show the search terms people used to find those photos. I probably get about 60-70 hits daily from people searching for "pictures of [Restaurant Name] in [City]". Yes, they may not be the most savvy searchers, but there are definitely many, many people who want to see the food at a certain restaurant.