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Taking pictures at a restaurant

Maybe this topic has already been discussed, but I find it annoying that so many people are taking flash pictures of food, themselves, each other at restaurants these days.

I realize that social networking is big and everyone needs to document every moment of their lives but it seems like everytime I go out there is a ton of flash photography going on all around me and it takes away from my enjoyment of the meal or evening to have strobe flashes in my eyes again and again.

Anyone else sick of the food paparazzi?

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  1. No.

    Well, you did say 'flash', and that's distracting. As long as people aren't using flash, I don't give a rat's behind what they're doing (unless they're taking pictures of me, I suppose)

    3 Replies
    1. re: jgg13

      I agree.

      Maybe you are overstating to sway the argument, but really a "ton of flash photography"? "Every time"?

      1. re: Quine

        It happens a lot but maybe not every single time I go out. When it does happen it is typically a few different tables and they will take several (between 6 and 10) flash pictures throughout the evening.

        I agree, if there is no flash then it is not a problem.

        1. re: Scott M

          Well, maybe they're celebrating something and just want to remember the night. I say, more power to them that they're having a great time, and then I get back to my food.

          I would say the bigger problem is the horrible, dim lighting in most restaurants nowadays! :o)

    2. Unless someone is paying you for the photos, I say just eat the food.

      1. Although this is not a new topic, a new discussion with new thoughts is often welcome. As for me, put my vote in the "I hate it" category. Sure, I shouldn't care, but if the guy next to me is making enough noise and commotion to distract me so he can take a photo, I'm going to be annoyed.

        Last fall, while vacationing, we stopped for an early dinner. A couple was eventually seated at the tabe next to us. Needless to say, they were quite close. As they began to have dishes served, he proceeded to arrange the food on, and photograph each - repeatedly, with and without the flash. He took photos of a white bowl of orange chowder and a plate of oysters arranged on ice. I mean, they're f*cking oysters - why????

        1. I really don't care for this trend. I've been guilty of it in the past, but stopped doing it a while ago. Obviously, the ability to have the pictures instantly thanks to digital cameras (and being able to take pictures with phones which are always on us) has caused this trend. There are many times people will post about their experience at a restaurant and post photos along with it. And most of the time the photos look like glop on a plate. The art of food photography is just that: an art. I'm all for technology, but I fear it's making us all into amateur photographers, singers, writers, video stars, etc.

          1. Hate it.

            If you have to do this for your blog, review, blah, blah, then go get a decent camera which will yake shots in low light situations. That way, you won't be such a freaking nuisance to everyone else sat around you.

            1. This is only a guess, but those who really feel compelled to photograph their food are those who are likely incapable of describing it well in words.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Tripeler

                I think your guess may be wrong - seems to be a given amongst restaurant bloggers that there will be lots of piccies.

                1. re: Tripeler

                  "This is only a guess, but those who really feel compelled to photograph their food are those who are likely incapable of describing it well in words."

                  Every week the NY Times reviews multiple restaurants. Photos accompany every article.



                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    photos to accompany an article in a major newspaper are completely unrelated to what we're talking about...anybody wanna tell me if the NYT photos are set, or are they snapped with a pocket camera?

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Having sat through a ruined dinner as the NYTimes crew pushed everyone around I can state that they are so set up.

                      1. re: jfood

                        I'd guessed as much -- which *does* keep them in the boorish category, but removes them from the discussion of Bloggers Who Take Pictures of Important Stuff, regardless of how badly they behave.

                      2. re: sunshine842

                        The poster I was responding to made the assertion that people take pictures because they can't write. Unless the restaurant reviewers from the Times can't write then that 's obviously false.

                        I assume that newspapers and magazines run food picture because most people like to look at them. The people who run Chowhound built in a way to upload pictures for the same reason.

                        I *hate* flash photography in restaurants - it's intrusive and rude. Photography without a flash is harmless.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          "unless the restaurant reviewers from the Times can't write"

                          I think I'll just keep quiet on this one.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            It's not just the Times. Every newspaper includes pictures of the food along with the reviews.

                  2. I'm one of those annoying photographers of food in public places.

                    I apologize to all offended by this energetic, emerging trend.

                    But...I'll continue to snap away.

                    31 Replies
                    1. re: RedTop

                      Why will you continue to snap away? I can't figure that out from your answer. What does the word "energetic" have to do with the act of taking a photograph. "Emerging" I get. That doesn't make the new behavior right. Just new.

                      Basically, my question is "What need do you have that is so great you are entitled to negatively impact the evening for others?" When I say "negatively impact" I'm not exaggerating.

                      I don't know your age, but I suspect you are younger than I am. Older eyes are slower to adjust between light and dark. That means that every time you introduce a burst of bright light into the area with a flash, folks around you literally cannot see as well to read the menu or eat their food. Do that several times for each course multiplied by several courses and you've really impacted the physical comfort of your neighbors.

                      As understanding as I'm trying to be, nothing you're written explains why you'll continue to snap away. I hope you'll reconsider your behavior.

                      1. re: Indy 67

                        I really hope with your comments about bright lights and older eyes that you're not driving,especially at night.
                        If someone wants to take a picture of their food to share their experience, while I may not be a fan, I'm sure as heck not going to let that bother me. There's a lot more in life to be bothered about than someone snapping a picture.

                        1. re: HunterJay

                          You're right that older eyes have to make accommodations when driving. At some point, these problems rise to the level of not driving, but there's a long period of time when intelligent people can make intelligent driving choices. That's why we hired a driver for a trip on the coastal road from Aix-on-Provence, France to La Spezia, Italy which includes dozens of tunnels (poorly lit at that) that cut through the mountains alternating with bright Mediterranean sunlight. These things I can control and do. I can't control the actions of other who decide their preferences supersede everything and everyone else.

                          Bloggers who routinely photograph their meals can buy a camera that works in low light, and they can shoot away without impacting anyone. In contrast, people cannot reverse time and the impact of aging. Basically it comes down to the old rights and responsibilities issue. The current trend in too many things in modern life emphasizes the rights over the responsibilities.

                        2. re: Indy 67

                          It's not a nuclear blast going off, it's a mili-second flash. And the camera I use gages the flash exposure required to get a nice pic before the photo is taken. We're not lighting a sound stage here.

                          1. re: RedTop

                            I'm telling you that your flash does have a physical impact on those around you. Not a psychological impact. A physical impact. You have chosen to believe that it does not. On that note, all that remains is for us to agree to disagree.

                            1. re: RedTop

                              Couldn't you just open your aperture?

                              1. re: RedTop

                                If there is a flash and it is annoying others around you then it is inappropriate. Your hobby does not trump other diners wishes.

                                Generally the practices don't bother me. And if you don't see anything wrong with it, and apparently aren't concerned about anyone else but you, I suspect that you will continue to flash away.

                                1. re: RedTop

                                  As someone on the flash side of the camera versus the non-flash side, I would disagree vehemently that the camera does not disturb others. With the new cameras, the "bad" side now receives two doses of light, the first to gauge and the second to blind.

                                  It is extremely disturbing to many of us around the photographer.

                              2. re: RedTop

                                For my own edification, would you please explain why you do it? Are you trying to trying to capture and preserve something? I mean no confrontaion, I frankly don't understand the practice. Is there something wrong with simply enjoying to moment, fleeting is not necessarily bad is it?

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  MGZ, people have been recording fun times together and good feasts since stick drawing on cave walls. It is human nature, surely our earliest recordings. It is only the methods of recording that has changed, not our desire to do it. Remember Kodak Sharing your moments commercials, since the 60's? It is not a new thing, it is a very very old social media (albeit cavebook was hard to access).

                                  1. re: Quine

                                    I checked the Chowhound archives and found a thread about people wall-carving photos of their meals on the cave walls and how the constant banging on the stone was disturbing. There was not full agreement back then as well. :-))

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      The banging is bad enough, but when you also find rock chips in your food...

                                      You should peruse the more recent archives, also. There's a thread about some idiot named Daguerre who stood there in the middle of the room with his stupid camera for like, ten minutes, and made all the other patrons sit totally still. Everyone's soup got cold.

                                    2. re: Quine

                                      Though I'm not sure that I can accept equating a digital photograph of a plate of pasta with the hunt scenes on the walls of Lascaux, I do understand how people may desire to create memories. But, then, why not take a photograph of your date? Or the restaurant sign?

                                      Perhaps it's just me being an anachronism, but I revel in experience qua experience.

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        "flash pictures of food, themselves, each other at restaurants these days."
                                        The OP does address the date and selves aspect.
                                        As a photographer, (RIT grad) and a person who likes to write about food stuff, I do both. I sure love to eat, with my eyes and keep a memory or two to share with others. One seeing is worth a thousand tellings.
                                        But I know enough about photography to not need to use a flash.
                                        Now cellphones in restaurants, that is something I can flame on about. To me that's a long painful searing audio that makes the experience a bit hard.

                                        1. re: Quine

                                          Yeah, forget what the OP wrote, I'm moving past it. I've decided that if I could better understand why it's done, maybe it wouldn't be so annoying. I mean, a digital snapshot of one's soup does not quite display the same level of artistic expression as painting a still life, right?

                                          Thanks though, Quine, you've provided me with one explanation. You're capturing the moment for the benefit of others - a desire to share. (I am assuming that you are looking to share with others besides just your fellow CH food geeks. Photos for our sake are perfectly acceptable.)

                                          Hopefully, others will explain their reasons??

                                          1. re: MGZ

                                            MGZ - but then, by your logic, no photography is art, is it?

                                            1. re: thew

                                              Not at all. All photographs are art. Any string of words is poetry. Some, however, are not particularly good.

                                          2. re: Quine

                                            if someone is speaking no louder than they would to a companion at the table, what's the difference?

                                            1. re: thew

                                              the problem is how many people seem to be incapable of maintaining the volume level of a conversation with a dining companion, thereby treating everyone in the room to a very loud discourse about ...well, things I really didn't need to know, and wish I didn't.

                                              (Best phone conversation-stopper ever: in a crowded ladies' room at the mall, with yak-yak-yak going on while she did her business...suddenly from another stall came the very loud cry of DO YOU KNOW SHE'S PEEING?! Snickers, then guffaws from every corner pretty much ended the pee-er's conversation)

                                              Similarly, if you can discreetly take a photo of your food, it's no big deal...but the overwhelming majority of people are incapable of discretion. It becomes this enormous production of re-decorating the plate (because the chef wasn't capable of dressing the plate correctly -- really?!), re-arranging the table, forgetting to turn the flash off, and even going as far as STANDING UP in the middle of the dining room to take a photo of a bowl of soup. I've even seen someone move chairs and the table - a particularly loathsome undertaking.

                                              These idiots, as well as the loud talkers on the phone, need trap doors to open underneath them and deposit them out in the dumpster with all the other trash.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                so then the phone and the photo are not the problem, the inconsiderate boor is. so lets not blame the tech.

                                                there are plenty of soft talkers on phones, and non-flash photo takers. but because they do not annoy they go unnoticed.

                                              2. re: thew

                                                Still as annoying, but the companion is being shouted at and those situations tend to end faster and differently.

                                              3. re: Quine

                                                Agree wholeheartedly on the cellphone annoyance aspect. Complain to the Maitre'D and all you might get is a shrug. At least a flash has a certain "end point" to it - yabberwocks keep on through the dinner - ruining the entire experience. Perhaps another thread discussing this particular form of bad behavior is in order?

                                                1. re: cornFusion

                                                  again i ask - if the person on the cellphone is no louder than the people chatting on the other side of you, why is it any ruder?

                                                  1. re: thew

                                                    Cellphones in restaurants...such a divisive topic. It does not annoy me when other people use them in restaurants (i probably won't even notice), however, i know that it does indeed annoy some people. Since talking on my cell phone in a restaurant is not a necessity, i don't use my cell phone in a restaurant out of respect for those people. If i absolutely must take a call, it is no big deal to take the call elsewhere. We know a lot of people think phone use is rude and they are not going to change their mind, so why can't we just try to minimize the annoyance. It's not like it takes a lot of effort to excuse yourself. Why is this issue so polarizing?

                                                    1. re: iluvtennis

                                                      The whole hearing one side of the convo only thing is part of it. I know the response is, "but why are you listening at all?" but the one sided convo is more noticeable even if you're trying to ignore it. IIRC it has to do with it being a bit disturbing to the brain and gets flagged as a "hey, something's odd here, check it out!" type of signal.

                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                          Yup, that has been my theory for a while. the brain is used to the back-forth so the one sided conversation creates a synapse larse.

                                                          But for me i'll stay seated and let my conversation act as addition teaching of others brains. I am not removing myself from the premises because other brains cannot cope. Heck my brain has a hard time coping with many distractions in a restaurant. Life goes on.

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        thew - Unless you are dining alone, I would say that talking on the phone and having a private conversation - while ignoring everyone else that you are with - is the foremost offense. As the volume of the one-sided conversation continues to grow and interfere with the interactions of others, it becomes ruder. If you are dining alone and speaking quietly - I would definitely not consider it intrusive or rude. To me, I notice rudeness first. A couple in a fine dining establishment having a fight is just as rude and disruptive of my dinner.

                                                        1. re: cornFusion

                                                          obviously. but that is not what is being discussed. that is an issue between you and your companions, not the people at the next table. You have no idea why that person is on the phone while at dinner with others, nor how the companions feel about it.

                                                          the complaint here was about people at other tables using a cell phone

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            Part of the reason people speak so loudly on cell phones, in addition to their general lack of consideration for those around them, is that cell phones lack side tone. Side tone is the feedback you get on a land line that enables you to hear your own voice in your earpiece. Cell phones don't have side tone, so you are tricked into thinking you must speak louder to be heard. (watch very old movies, people are always yelling into the phone...)

                                          3. I hardly ever see anyone taking pictures of their food, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone taking a flash picture of their meal. Much more common is people taking pictures of each other because their meal is to celebrate a special occasion - I speculate that that's more annoying, because the flash is aimed up, pointing at surrounding tables by necessity, but I understand why people want to commemorate such events.

                                            1. I consider the practice of taking pictures in restaurants to be uncouth and undignified - a breach of etiquette kind of on par to texting or making/receiving phone calls in restaurants.

                                              In high end restaurants I consider the taking of pictures to be particularly galling. Whenever I see people taking pictures, particularly of food, in high end restaurants it makes me think that they are somewhat out of place. For whatever reason, the taking of pictures in high end restaurants seems to strip the establishment of some of the intimacy, uniqueness and heightened ambience such establishments try to maintain, in my mind.

                                              At medium to lower end restaurants I am less likely to be annoyed quite as much by people taking group pictures unless they are also loud and unruly (which is almost always the case) and pass them off as part of the chain (restaurant) gang out to celebrate a birthday or other trivial event. If they're taking pictures of their food in such places, though, I just think of them as clueless.

                                              23 Replies
                                              1. re: MonMauler

                                                I don't see how someone texting or taking a NO flash photo is such a breach of etiquette. It doesn't affect anyone's dining experience at all.

                                                I can see how a phone conversation can be a grey area. But to me, someone taking a photo of their food and not using a flash, it's their issue, regardless of how high or low end a place may be. Same with texting. Again, how is it bothering you and changing the ambiance of the place? I see more weight with the dress code argument and affecting the ambiance than someone taking photos unobtrusively or texting. Now how it affects their dining companions is a whole other argument. But as to other diners, I don't see it.

                                                1. re: Jase

                                                  it's that the vast majority of people don't have any clue what "unobtrusive" means...nor do they care. It's THEIR dinner, and THEIR blog, and the presence of others only serves to annoy them because it gets in the way of what THEY want to do.

                                                  and for the record, two people loudly discussing their sex life at the next table are just as rude and inconsiderate, even if there's not a phone or camera to be found.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    We are in an era of self-entitlement. Its "their dinner" and "their blog", in case you didn't know, they are very important people. Its the same with phones.

                                                    What isn't considered in this mindset is what if everyone took pictures with a flash? The restaurant would look like a pre-Oscar red carpet walk. But, again, this type of things don't cross the minds of the newly self-entitled.

                                                    I generally ignore it but I have been in nice restaurants when it has become annoying. It isn't likely to change until restaurants ask patrons, directly, not to take flash pictures like they have asking patrons not to talk on their phones at the table.

                                                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                      those "what if everyone did it" arguments are silly. not everyone is doing it. most people taking pics do not use flash. not everyone on a cell phone is louder than people conversing normally.

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        The problem lies with the self entitled, whether they are taking photos or on the phone, is ghat they don't care if they bother others. W've all sat next to the jerk at a restaurant who is loud.

                                                        No not everyone takes flash pics or talks on the phone loudly. But more and more restaurants don't allow cell phones, and pics may follow, because the self important.

                                                        1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                          sadly more and more of everything is being determined by the behavior of the worst of us.

                                                          personally i'm tired of having my behavior limited because some idiot does it wrongly

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            The elevation of rule above reason.

                                                            1. re: thew

                                                              Welcome to the real world! That's the reason for dress codes in restaurant. Some places require a jacket because if they didn't some self entitled jerk would come in with torn jeans, a dirty tee shirt and flip flops. The same goes with no cell phones in some restaurants because some people just can't control themselves. The rules are made because some people have no shame and think only of themselves. The level of entitlement in the world anymore drives me crazy.

                                                              Yes, it sucks because I'm not a fan of a lot of rules either but they are there for the idiots...even if we aren't one of those idiots.

                                                              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                Nobody is EVER one of the idiots...it's ALWAYS someone else!

                                                                (ain't it funny how that works?!)

                                                                1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                  that isn't the real world because it is how it has to be, but because people have chosen to respond like that.

                                                                  another route would be to not make the rule, and just not be the type of self entitled jerk that cares what the person at the next table is wearing, for example.

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    I don't follow your logic. The patrons do not make the dining rules. The restaurant management does.

                                                                    Why do you think management is acting like jerks because they care how their patrons look?

                                                                    Frankly, it's all a matter of degree. My husband and I recently ate a place that had the following sign posted: "No shirt. No shoes. No service." For that restaurant, management has a standard below which they do not want to go. Philosophically, that's no different from another restaurant's somewhat fancier dress code.

                                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                                      because how i look says nothing about who i am, how i behave, or if i deserve to be eating in their establishment or not.

                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                        I don't really care about dress codes in restaurants. Their house their rules. If you don't want to dress appropriately (as the restaurant defines) then don't go. That's your choice. Of course, you are then deciding not to dine at some of the finest restaurants but that remains your choice; and that's perfectly fine.

                                                                        True, how you look says nothing about who you actually are. Though, regardless of that fact, people are indeed judged, every day, by what they wear, how they look and how they carry themselves. We could go into the sociological reasons for this but that isn't he point of the thread.

                                                                        Its about pictures in a restaurant. If there is no flash (Alinea's request last time I was there) then I don't see the harm. If there is a flash and the diner decides to document every bite of every course I could see it bothering those around them. Then, it becomes an issue and if the person taking the picture doesn't care then I think it says a lot of about them and that is I called self-entitled. Caring what the person next to you is wearing isn't self entitled just prudish or over-sensitive.

                                                                        1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                          i was clearly engaging in some hyperbole there. i agree with most of what you say.

                                                                      2. re: Indy 67

                                                                        No shirt, no shoes, no service is usually a requirement handed down by the relevant health authority, not a standard below which the restaurant refuses to go.

                                                        2. re: Jase

                                                          I have just always been taught that one doesn't do such things in polite society. My parents, for example, told me on more than one occasion that one shouldn't use a cell phone, in any way, at the dinner table. I consider the taking of photos to be an extension of that. The country club I belong to, to use another example, doesn't allow anyone to use a cell phone or a camera inside the clubhouse.

                                                          1. re: MonMauler

                                                            i'm uncomfortable with rules that don't have justifications attached to them.

                                                            1. re: MonMauler

                                                              Hmm, well I find it tacky and a lack of etiquette for a neighboring diner to be paying so much attention to me that they notice every detail of what I'm doing with my hands. If someone is eavesdropping on me that much, the contrarian in me is apt to do something more noticeable just to annoy the busy body.

                                                              I don't belong to a country club but the few times I've gone to one, the food was worth the time or trouble to take a photo. I take a quick shot of a dish if it's new or interesting, mainly as a memory jog and conversation starter. I have many friends who can't go food adventuring as much as I can but they ask to see photos and hear my descriptions so they can exposed to new things.

                                                              1. re: MonMauler

                                                                Yes, it's just the poor, uncouth proletariat that gawks and wants to commemorate the special meal that you take for granted because you do it all the time. They must have been raised by wolves. Geez. Condescending much?

                                                                I'm not a fan of any sort of technology interrupting face to face socializing, but the assumptions you're making about those who choose to do this make me want to defend them.

                                                              2. re: Jase

                                                                >>>>I don't see how someone texting or taking a NO flash photo is such a breach of etiquette.<<<<

                                                                Don't texts beep?

                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                  Nope, not if you have your phone set right. Can't speak for other people, but all the years I've had a cell phone, i've always had it set on vibrate out in public. And the vibrate setting I use is low enough that unless it's dead of night quiet, you won't hear it. That way even if I forget to switch it to airplane mode, you can't hear the buzz in a theatre, wedding, church, etc. If there's any kind of ambient noise at all, you won't hear it.

                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                    I ask because the last time I went to a movie theatre, there was beeping. I don't use a cellphone, so I didn't know what the sound was. A friend told me afterwards it was the sound of someone texting. This was in 2007. Do *all* texts no longer beep? I really have no idea.

                                                                    Not everyone is as polite as you, apparently.

                                                            2. I'll be the first person to admit taking flash photography of food in a restaurant is ridiculously annoying. That said, I did it (minus the flash) at Fleur de Lys once when the dessert was stunning. It was almost too pretty to eat (and looked far better than it tasted).

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                Care to post that photo on this thread, please? ;-)

                                                              2. What I don't get is why so many people post their out-of-focus, badly lit photos on the web. Anyone that has ever picked up a camera has taken their share of bad shots, but we don't proudly show our "mistakes" to the general public.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: cavandre

                                                                  Excellent point - attested by the plethora of bad pics on the net.

                                                                2. doesnt bother me at all & like mentioned, food is a social thing...never take pics of others though

                                                                  i also have a photogrpaher in the fam who often takes picture of food when we go out...sometimes hell check with the manager or if the tables are close hell check/warn the ppl sitting next to us.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Maggie Larkin

                                                                    Does he check or does he warn? Major difference.

                                                                    What's clear from either of these approaches is that your family member understands that his behavior is at best tolerated and just as likely to be intensely resented.

                                                                  2. Okay, if you want to photograph your meal and the restaurant is cool with it-np. But, don't tap me on the shoulder and ask if you can take a picture of my entree while I'm ready to dig in (true story!) and enjoy. There is a limit to my patience level when I'm hungry. :)

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      O.M.G. Were you even able to be civil in your refusal?

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        My "less than poker face" must have frightened the "photographer" because I've never seen faster feet once their eyes met my gaze. The entire experience still makes my husband and sister (who were with me at the time) blush.

                                                                    2. Just had an experience this weekend. My son and I went to lunch at a new German restaurant. It looked fun from the outside, there was a lot of activity, people waiting for tables, festive atmosphere, etc. but the actual food was just short of average.

                                                                      A couple was seated at the window table. They took pictures of everything. The menu, the plates, the decor, each other. He went outside and took pictures through the window. He took pictures of each bite she took. They weren't near me, so it was kind of amusing, in a" what do they see in this place", kinda way.

                                                                      However, it seemed to start a trend. At least two other patrons got up and started taking pictures. One guy took pictures of the beer menu over the bar. One guy took pictures of the posters on the wall. Seriously, have they never been in a restaurant before? Then, one of the guys gets up again and starts snapping pictures of the dining room. Of the people sitting in the dining room.

                                                                      I don't want this stranger taking my picture. It was weird.

                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                                        See, now my mind would have been thinking candid camera...this can't be real! Like a yawn in heat...one person starts..next thing you know everyone is yawning!! How soon before the entire scenario keeps people from eating there!?

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          I never thought of that. Smile...


                                                                          1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                                            Now if it's a full on restaurant flash mob, that's entertaining...

                                                                        2. re: Whinerdiner

                                                                          So, um, my photo of a plate of sliced white bread ... the type that is a bargain version of Wonder Bread ... and a bad photo at that ... would have given you pause?

                                                                          In fact, this photo stream of mine with pretty much lousy photographs has it all ... exterior shots, menu, photo thru the door, etc, etc etc.

                                                                          Then there is the mystery of Flickr. Why 73 people viewed the photo of the shrimp won tons at this restaurant in the middle of nowhere in Guatemala. ... well damn ... I just checked my stats and someone just marked this as a favorite ... why, oh, why?

                                                                          Menus - I'll take photos of menus is there is no online menu or take out menu. So far one of the most popular hits for me on Flickr has been the menus.

                                                                          Bad food, bad restaurant (which, BTW, this is a good one) - It's like posting about a bad joint ... just info.

                                                                          I won't take photos of people in the restuarant though and wait till the area is cleared.

                                                                          Why the bread photos? I thought it was funny. Chinese restaurants in Guatemala serve white bread instead of white rice.

                                                                          I've only been taking the photos for a few months, so who knows when it will bore me. I guess there is some excuse in far off Guatemala since there's not much in the way of blogging about restaurants in English, let alone photos. There ain't that much in the way of local Spanish blogs either.

                                                                          Still, there are times when I'm here talking about the farmers markets or stores in San Francisco and there simply aren't photos to show people. They can't imagine there are 20 different varieties of tomatoes ... and dang ... with all that snap, snap, snapping in the Bay Area I'm just flabergasted I sometimes can't find the photos online to back up what I'm saying.

                                                                          In one French restaurant in Antigua, I took an absolute god-awful photo of the dining room. It was the only one I had. There were no other photos of the joint online. So I put it in the restaurant photo stream labeled "worse than usual photo of Bistro Cinq". Someone flagged it as interesting. Maybe they thought I was being creative ... or they are mocking me.

                                                                          Then there was the Spur Cola mystery. In a small town in the middle of a sugar cane field there was a fair. I took pictures including one of the cola. I get about 5 hits a day on it. It got me nuts ... why, oh, why. I finally had to google to find out what this was all about.

                                                                          It turns out Spur Cola was a cola made by Canada Dry and discontinued in the 1950's. The bottles are collectors items. BTW, it was revived, so I wasn't drinking 60 year old cola.

                                                                          I just take pictures like I'd like to see them. Sometimes if I'm looking to go to a restaurant, I want to get a feel for it ... and like I write ... that means lots of detail.

                                                                          I'm not so into rearranging food, though I've learned to keep the shadow of my head out of the photo ... usually.

                                                                          The reason most of my photos aren't great is I snap quickly so I don't bother people. Actually, my friends and family have gotten into the food arrangement ... my crew, so to speak.

                                                                          And ... I like to take pictures of the mundane. The things people don't think are important. The things we pass every day and don't give a thought to. They are a big part of our lives ... as is the non special occasion restaurant or market.

                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                            All interesting back notes to why you take food photos, etc. BUT to fellow restaurant goers it's just (take your pick) annoying, silly, unexpected, self-entitled, typical behavior....unless of course you explain what you're doing while you are snap, snap, snapping away.

                                                                            One day I'll walk into a restaurant and see a line of "food cameras" sold at the back corner geared to folks with this "specialized" photography love! Or a charge for taking pictures in the restaurant during operating hours. Or a sign "by appt only" for food photography....

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              >>> annoying, silly, unexpected, self-entitled, typical behavior

                                                                              Yep. I put up with their babies ... my cameria is a lot quieter and doesn't run around the restaurant uninvited. Its payback time.

                                                                              I don't believe there is a concept of self-entitled in Guatemala. Life is communial here. Everybody is sort of tolerant of whatever quirks people might have ... and ... food aint' quite the ompetitive sport as in the US. People eat to live .. but do it in as tasty a way as possible.

                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                Yep. I put up with their babies ... my cameria is a lot quieter and doesn't run around the restaurant uninvited. Its payback time.

                                                                                I took a good look at your flickr page and some of your shots are really good, rwo.

                                                                            2. re: rworange

                                                                              Keep taking your photos. Far more people like them than don't.

                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                Well,yeah. Thanks.

                                                                                Just wanted to offer up some explanation of sometimes mysterious behaviour.

                                                                                I mean, you can't live life through a lens. I remember being a a boat on the SF Bay with one tourist who never put his camera down. This man never actually looked around him at the beauty that was the bay.

                                                                                And you have to use common sense and be aware. In a small intimate restaurant I wanted to photo a sign and there was a couple under it (fortunately English-speaking). I told them I wanted to take a photo of the sign and they wouldn't be in it They were ok with it and we actually had a nice conversation and shared some dishes.

                                                                                There are times you just KNOW it is bothering someone and either need to cease or be quick and obvious about only doing a photo of what's on your plate. The bad Bistro Cinq photo was an example of that. It wasn't the type of joint to be snapping photos of the restuarant ... even in the tourist central area of Antigua. So I asked my server if it would be ok if I took one. Unfortunately, quick resulted in lousy.

                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                  If you're in a restaurant for 60 minutes and spend 2 minutes taking pictures then that shouldn't bother anyone if you don't use a flash. It's not excessive at all.

                                                                                2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                  I don't know about the "people polls" on this debate but I know not all restaurants love it. Anything done tasteful and with consideration wouldn't bother most people it's the ridiculous people that can be an issue.

                                                                                  Tap, tap on shoulder...yes? Can I photograph what you're eating...it looks delicious..maybe I'll order it the next time I"m here...oh...would you mind moving over slightly so I can catch the light....

                                                                                  for that kind of foolishness, they can pick up the cost of my entree.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    Agreed. Photographing the food of complete strangers is outrageous.

                                                                                3. re: rworange

                                                                                  So, your right to take photos for pleasure supersedes my right to the quiet enjoyment of my meal?

                                                                                  I really wouldn't mind if you were taking pictures of just your own food. If you want to photograph white bread, have at it. Yes, the couple having a "photo shoot" gave me pause. I found it amusing that they were paying inordinate attention to mediocre food and lame decor instead of each other. It was amusing because they were far enough away from me. However, it was pretty obvious the table behind them was annoyed.

                                                                                  I think that when you call attention to yourself by continuously getting up and down, posing, moving chairs, and exposing those around you to repeated flashes, you invite commentary.

                                                                                  If people are taking pictures of me, in a restaurant, then they are invading my privacy, and I don't like it. I can appreciate your enjoyment of the mundane - of local color - of documenting your passion for food and your travels through pictures.

                                                                                  Perhaps you could appreciate my desire to just be left out of it.

                                                                                  Edit: This was in response to rworange

                                                                                  1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                                                    >>> I think that when you call attention to yourself by continuously getting up and down, posing, moving chairs, and exposing those around you to repeated flashes, you invite commentary.

                                                                                    I don't think you read my post. as I didn't say I did any of that In fact, I said I wasn't even into rearranging the food on my plate.

                                                                                    Thank goodnes for photo editing tools, otherwise most of my photos would include chairs, columns and other things that got in the way of the quick shot. They would often be listing to one side as most need to be straighted.

                                                                                    Not to mention all the other problems in the speedy shot. I've had to train myself to slow down ... somewhat .. as I don't feel comfortable sitting there eons trying to frame a shot. God bless you Windows Live Editor. You forgive a lot of photo sins.

                                                                                    As I enter or leave a restaurant I'll snap a photo. I specifically said I keep people out of the photo and gave an example of asking one couple who might think I was snapping them instead of a sign.

                                                                                    You had a bad experience with one couple who went over the top.

                                                                                    In every category of dining there are the few who ruin it for the many. My noting my camera was more well behaved than children is an example. Honestly, most people who bring their children to restaurants are not problems. It is those few boors that give kids a bad reputation.

                                                                                    The thing to do with people who exceed acceptable in any situation ... be it out-of-control kids, drunks, boisterous diners or parties, photo freaks, etc, etc ... is to call attention to the manager and have them deal with the situation so it will cease.

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      Lets just agree that unruly children and unruly cameras are better left at home. Thankfully, both of ours are well behaved.

                                                                              2. I can't recall the last time I saw a flash go off in a restaurant, other than when mine went off accidently last week.

                                                                                I guess I go to different types of restaurants.

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                  I have only seen people take pics of their food in restaurants in Times Square so I'm guessing they are tourists.

                                                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                                                    Maybe before food blogging but in this day and age food bloggers are obviously taking tons of food photos because dozens of pics are posted to their blogs each month and the food blogsphere encourages the use of visuals and blogs are more interesting with pictures! So, all of this snapping is going to happen...just do it with class, don't invade the dining space of those around you and everything will be just fine.

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      Last Friday, my husband and I ate at a restaurant in DC where the tab for two tends to run $125 and up. We were seated at a table on the banquette next to a young couple who were taking photographs continually. The camera being used was an expensive one and the young man had outfitted it with a special lens. (I'm assuming it was a macro lens for close ups.) He never used the flash so I was intensely grateful considering the potential for misery if a flash had gone off with every shot.

                                                                                      With all the care and consideration that went into the couple's preparation and behavior during, what utterly and completely mystified me was the nature of the shots of each diner. They were clearly preserving their experience together, but their standards and mine radically differed on what constitutes an appealing keepsake. Every shot including a person was posed and artificial. For example, one of the restaurant's signature appetizers is a dish of onion strips prepared carbonara-style. The male scooped some onion strips on his fork, held it up to the side of his mouth with his hand resting on his cheek and froze with a far-from-natural smile until his companion took his picture. I can't imagine thinking that stiff image is an appealing keepsake of a nice evening.

                                                                                      If anyone is inclined to criticize me for paying attention to my neighbor's behavior, remember we're seated next to one another on a banquette that put his table six inches from ours. I literally would have to suffer a medical condition like tunnel vision to avoid having him fully in my sight even looking straight ahead at my husband.

                                                                                      1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                        I guess they have different interests than you and find different types of photos appealing. Can this really come as a surprise?

                                                                                        1. re: tommy

                                                                                          What comes as a suprise is the sophistication of the couple's equipment (with all the expense that sophistication entails) in contrast to the lack of sophistication of their photography standards.

                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                            Good point, who are we to judge, right? I mean, I can't understand who'd want to look at lousy photos, nor can I understand who would really read the blogs they typically wind up on. I suppose even lousy art can have an audience. It's certainly not like anyone should ever critique any of it.

                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                              critique the art. but having a different aesthetic does not make one a lesser person

                                                                                            2. re: Indy 67

                                                                                              You were close to them. Why didn't you ask?

                                                                                              I don't mean "Those seem like cheesey photos. How come?

                                                                                              More like "That's a nice camera. You must really enjoy photography".

                                                                                              Did any of their conversation give you a clue?

                                                                                              Given I take photos because soething strikes me as hilarious for all you know they were doing a starical essay about the over-the-top current food culture.

                                                                                              I did get one person who asked me why. She didn't ask the question directly, I forgot the lead into it. However, in the course of the conversation, she said she noticed I was taking photos of the food and assumed I blog. That led into an exchange of restaurant info and I actually gave her the URL for Chowhound ... plus my Spanish school.

                                                                                              I'm sure my family is mystified by some of the shots I take ... and for others we've been reduced to tears of laughter about it, like at the fair.

                                                                                              Almost everything was 5 quezales (little over 50 cents). I chimed in about a guy selling chicken soup for 15. There waas a pause and someone said ... you took a picture, didn't you? That got us all hysterical.

                                                                                              I'm sure my photos of used tire shops defies theirs and anyone's logic. However, they are such a big part of the culture and overlooked. Next to tortillas and bakeries, probably the most common business.

                                                                                              And ... should I be unlucky enough to have to go to the border again, I gotta have a shot of the place that had a sign that they fixed tire punctures ... from gunshots.

                                                                                              1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                You are conflating equipment costs and the interests of others with your personal artistic preferences.

                                                                                            3. re: Indy 67

                                                                                              I've been in restaurants and seen the same behavior with a cheap fish lens. Taking shots in a food establishment is here to stay unless the owners chime in. Taking photos on any small hand held for the 11 o clock news has been going on for years already...

                                                                                              Quality of photo has nothing to do w/it.

                                                                                      2. One flash photo shouldn't seriously bother anyone. However, if a lot of tables do it, or if one person takes several flash photos, then it is pushing the envelope.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: popcorn8

                                                                                          This whole scenario reminds me of when video cameras where NEW (nearly a lb. to lug around, expensive monsters that blocked everyones view). Do you think parents who were taking video shots of their children's first (fill in the blank) gave a rats patoot about the parent sitting next to them trying to watch the same event sans camera? Nope.

                                                                                          So far, I've only been in two restaurants where the number of food photos being taken was so intrusive that most non flash taking patrons just had to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

                                                                                          People are going to do what they want irregardless of how maddening it might be to others. Just one price we all pay for modern gadgets.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            Complained the Caveman about his fellow Cave mate who just had to bring that fire inside the cave.
                                                                                            You have so nailed the situation.
                                                                                            I really really have to laugh at folks who complain about these modern contraptions and how taking pictures about "everything!" which did BTW build Kodak into something more than a corner store.
                                                                                            I mean really now, just look at this link! The nerve of those social media people!


                                                                                            A 1915 camera and film ad, so people could autograph the actual negative when the picture was taken.

                                                                                        2. My husband and I had dinner at nice-ish (casual, but still over $100 for two) restaurant last weekend. The table next to us was celebrating a birthday, and took flash photos the entire time. A few photos? Fine. Flash going off dozens and dozens (not an exaggeration) of times? Really, really annoying. I was seriously considering asking them to a: learn to take photos without flash or b: take a picture of everyone at the table and then put the camera away.

                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: manraysky

                                                                                            You should have said both of those things. Both are very constructive and polite and would have no doubt resulted in a more pleasurable meal for everyone involved.

                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                              I doubt that it would have been pleasurable had they said that. With some people that might lead to a heated exchange or lots of snarky remarks from that table. IMO, there is no right way to say that. I would have discreetly gone to the mangager and have them deal with it by eeither moving my table or telling these people to tone it down.

                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                Yeah, I've found that people displaying boorish behavior in restaurants aren't often receptive to being asked to stop, no matter how nicely they are asked.

                                                                                                Case in point: while at a fairly fancy, otherwise quiet restaurant, I asked the woman next to me if she could turn off the sound on the video game her son was playing, as the blam! blam! blam! was really distracting. She got really pissy, and she and everyone at her table made of point of telling me I "ruined their whole dinner" as they were leaving.

                                                                                                1. re: manraysky

                                                                                                  Oh, God, I hate people like that.

                                                                                                  1. re: manraysky

                                                                                                    Welcome to the world of the self-entitled.... "I don't care who I bother as long as I get to do whatever I want".... Its a new world that I've resigned myself to endure.

                                                                                                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                      New world? People have been complaining about this type of thing for generations.

                                                                                            2. Glad its not just me! I am far from a snob but I find it very common & tacky. I really do fail to understand why anyone would want to photograph their food? It's almost like "Oh my God! It's a plate of food! How peculiar! Quick Moira, take a photo!" Fools... Well, I know what a plate of food looks like, cause I'm not a tw@t!