Is it rude to take food photos at high end restaurants in France?
I do this all the time back at home in the US, just wondering is it bad etiquette to do so in France?
Whether you are in a high-end or low-end eatery, the polite thing is always to ask the waiter first if it is ok.
I never take pics but have friends who take pics of every dish from every angle, sigh.
There have been all kinds of reactions in our experience.
Some restaurants said fine.
Others are delighted and want to help us take the pics.
Chez Spring I was told that it was ok if we were discreet about it, but otherwise "the restaurant is not a museum". Fair.
One high-end restaurant graciously explained to my shutterbug friend that taking pics would disturb the other diners. Again, fair. In France, the issue of privacy is taken extremely seriously. This is a point that many of my non-French friends do not always consider.
Ask the waiter, be discreet (don't use a flash or tripod EVER) and don't over do it.
I've done it at Gagnaire, Le cinq, L'Atelier and other places with no issue.
Unless you are under contract to a magazine or newspaper, don't do it. If you ARE under contract to a magazine or newspaper, make arrangements with the restaurant to do the photography when you can properly set up lights and tablescape to show the food in its best possible light.
This has to be one of the most unbelievably obnoxious trends to have surfaced in recent years...nearly every time I go into a restaurant in Paris, someone is taking photos of their plate, and they usually forget to turn off the flash...and from the food blogs I've seen, it doesn't help anyway -- the pictures all come out underexposed and blurred, like so much oatmeal.
Don't let the lecturers impress you. If taking pictures make sense for you, do it. it's your meal and you're paying fot it. Now there is a question as to how much it is worth it -- pics are a distraction for you, and most food pics you see on blogs hurt the eyes. But that is entirely your decision, and if people don't like that you're taking pics, let them stay home.
Third this. What many of these chefs are doing is art - as long as you are discreet, flash free, and not taking pictures of other diners I'd say it is far less offensive than the lady wearing a gallon of perfume, the loud talker who has drank too much, or anyone so inconsiderate as to answer their phone in a restaurant.
http://uhockey.blogspot.com (yes, there are pictures.)
I agree that it is best to ask, and be discreet about it. A quick snap with a cell phone is what I do and it doesn't get in anyone's way or distract anyone.
To the naysayers I comment - it's my food, I'm paying for it, it's my vacation, and as long as it isn't against the restos policy, or is a problem with others at the table, then I'm going to go ahead and snap a photo as a memento not only of something special but also a memorable event. I've been taking food photos for years and have never had any problem whatsoever. If people can take photos of others, say, celebrating a birthday, anniversary, etc., there should be no problem photographing the food.
Everybody has their own way of looking at it. I've never had problems taking food photos. However (unless I was working on a book for the chef and needed to keep a precise memory of every dish I ate) I used to feel really awkward using a big SLR. A good compact camera a better option.
Now I use nothing but the Lumix GF1 which gives you SLR quality with the size of a compact. It is discrete and beautiful.
Some rules : compact, always. No tripod, ever. No flash, ever. Flash ruins the photo anyway, I don't understand why people use it.
I never ever asked the permission to take pictures and nobody ever denied it to me. Except the last time at Spring but (Parigi if you're passing by) if the person who told you "the restaurant is not a museum" is the one I'm thinking of, he is no longer there and cannot be considered representative of the house.