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Nov 4, 2008 02:56 PM

Does it Pay to Photograph Your Food?

I apologize if this question has been addressed in a previous thread.

We've all read/heard stories about how the quality of service a diner experienced could be significantly influenced by the restaurant staff's having recognized the diner as being a professional restaurant critic, a celebrity, or someone who is otherwise well-connected.

Now that pocket-sized cameras have become ubiquitous and so many people are posting pictures on food blogs, has anyone found that taking out a camera and snapping shots of the dishes affects the service that you receive (positively, or negatively)? Whether in restaurants or specialty food shops, like bakeries?

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  1. I always try not to let anyone working there see me do it, so as to not affect (either way) the service I receive. However, I think I've been caught a couple times and I believe that the fact that I do it so discretely results in better service. If I had a DSLR out and was like, taking flash photos or something I would imagine the service wouldn't improve!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jetgirly

      presumably all your snapshots are discrete, not multiple exposures, being taken discreetly one hopes.

    2. no one seems to have be very impressed when i whip out my decrepit little camera phone to take pictures of my food. but maybe if i had a sexy digital SLR, they'd all scurry to do my bidding.

      actually, half the time in nyc, i suspect they'd just think we were overzealous tourists.

      1. I rarely do it. But when I have in the past, it's been as discretely as possible with no flash. Honestly, I don't think the restaurants were thrilled with it even though it was no flash. And I once tried to do it and the woman stopped me saying no photographs were allowed. Perhaps they think we're competitors. Perhaps they think it's tacky. Perhaps they think we're food bloggers. Not all restaurants like bloggers -- actually, I think quite a few of them can't stand bloggers. And Momofuku Ko in NYC has a no-camera policy.

        1. I am an advertising photographer, though food is not my specialty. I do have to photograph if for many resort brochures and ads. Still, when I am reviewing a restaurant, it is because I am dining there, not doing this for a living. I am more interested in enjoying the evening and the company of my wife, or my guests. I also realize that I do not have a staff of stylists and assistants, when dining. I do not bother taking a "snapshot" of my food and will not bother doing so. If I cannot do a praise-worthy photograph, then I will not do so. I do not want to call any attention to myself either, as I want my reviews to be totally objective and do not wish for the restaurant staff to even suspect that I am likely to be doing a critique. I want them to treat me like any diner. Sorry, but if I cannot do the shot in my studio, or with unlimited time on location, with my crew, I do not wish to submit it to the public.


          2 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            I'm not a photographer, but I don't take photos in restaurants for several reasons:

            1. I'm there to enjoy the meal and the company. The fact that I choose to then post about it on Chowhound is secondary to me. It's bad enough that I take photos of the food I cook at home before we sit down to eat dinner.

            2. I know my husband would completely cringe were I to take photos in a restaurant.

            3. I'm very careful not to attract attention to myself as a CH poster when I dine out - I make the reservation under my husband's name, I never discuss CH at the table, if asked where I heard about the place I say "Oh, online somewhere" or "From a friend." So, the same goes for me and photos at restaurants. I want to ensure that my report about a place is as completely unbiased as possible, and that I've not received any special treatment etc., for whatever reason.

            1. re: MMRuth


              Those are probably better reasons, than my "I would be unhappy with the pictures," motivation, especially #1.


          2. Some restaurants have a no-photographing policy that if I encounter that, I would respect it. But I've pulled out my low tech cel phone cam when the occasion calls for it.

            In other countries you could be seen as an embarassment as a visitor photographing the local food (and others might think you are stealing ideas for the competition or tabloids) or be given the tourist treatment.

            For me it is about capturing memories and a fond love and appreciation of great food. Depending on where you go, some establishments only care if you spend money where it counts. If using a restroom at a bar in Europe requires me to spend a Euro or more to buy a coffee, I should be able to photograph the toilet as well.