HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Photographing your food


Everyone's photographing their food in restaurants now. I do it to, but usually just while travelling. I know it's incredibly dorky, but is it rude or does it bother other people?

  1. It drives my family nuts.

    1. As long as a) you're not using flash b) you respect the food (i.e. don't spend so long taking pictures that hot food starts to cool or special effects dissipate) and c) you respecting the time and privacy of staff and other diners then it's nobody else's business what you are doing at the table. I like to take pictures just as a memory aid as it really helps me remember things later.

      It makes as much sense for someone to be annoyed by another customer taking pictures of their food as it does for them to be annoyed by the colour of my necktie.

      6 Replies
      1. re: bytepusher

        I completely agree with BytePusher on every point.

        And for me, mostly it's so I can remember each individual dish. Sometimes, when there's wine involved, my memory can get foggy.

        1. re: justxpete

          That is why I always request a copy of the menu, and will make notes on it, along with the wines served.

          Being a commercial photographer, prior to retirement, I have photographed food, though usually for resort ads and brochures, and not REAL "food photography." If I cannot light it properly, I do not want a quick snapshot of it.

          The menu, my memories, and my notes, are much better, than a flat, on-camera flash snapshot, by a great many levels. However, that is just me. I see so many photographs, of what are probably very enjoyable dishes, that I would never order, in a million years. They look like dreck, in my humble, though studied opinion.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            That's just because most people do not know what they're doing with a camera, and how low-light impacts their pictures - they elect to use a flash when a flash should never be used. You can take reasonably good pictures of food in low light, you just have to up the ISO and have a fairly steady hand.

            I also take pictures or samples of the menu in addition to my very subtle photographs.

        2. re: bytepusher

          I fully agree with all the above points.

          1. re: bytepusher

            totally agree.

            i think it's a control issue, if there's no flash involved, for people to mind what i'm doing to my food if it's not messy, distasteful, or loud.

            1. re: bytepusher

              Me too! It's not my thing, but as long as it's not disruptive, why should anyone care.

            2. It bothers me only if (1) you are using flash and (2) you are including me or my companions in your wider shot. Do both and we are are likely to be having an exchange of words.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                Yes, but with your British accent, Harters, that "exchange of words" would still sound very nice. At least to us Americans. Well, at least to me. :-)

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  That's very kind, Linda. But, in truth, it wouldnt be at all nice. It's one of those things that really bugs me.

                  1. re: Harters

                    oh dear. when you finally make it out to the west coast i will have to abstain.

                    then again,i never use flash, and never put people in my shots.

                    1. re: mariacarmen

                      Did you do the bacon shot used in your avatar? I had no idea what it was until I looked at it a bit larger by putting the cursor to it -- thoroughly great!

                2. re: Harters

                  Is flash also a "no-no" if a shot or two are taken of your party when celebrating a special occasion? We frequently see others doing so and it doesn't bother us at all...indeed I've sent over a couple of gasses of champagne more than once when others are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, etc.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    Generally speaking (as I am a grumpy old man), the flash bothers me whatever the circumstances. I dont like my dinner to be intruded on. That said, I guess that I'm already going to be irritated by what I presume is going to be a noisy party celebrating their event, so the fact that they use flash is just going to be a minor additon to the reasons for grumpiness.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I, also, do not like being seated next to large parties. I was referring to a couple, or perhaps a foursome, celebrating an occasion. In this circumstance, I find no fault with their taking a few flash pics to remember the event.

                      1. re: Harters

                        Wow, I think that we are twin sons of different mothers!

                        I share your observations, and your feelings.


                      2. re: josephnl

                        I am not keen on that either, but that is just me. I try to avert my eyes, when I see it coming, but if one is in conversation with their dining companions, or involved in their food, it can be difficult to do.


                      3. re: Harters

                        I suppose we could all imagine strange and odd (but not likely) scenarios. My dining partners and I have never been included in the photo someone at another table was taking of the food on their plate. But it could be very different in England. People may try to take a photo of their fish and chips while attempting to also catch some people across the room.

                      4. Rude when you use a flash. Also, the shutter sound can be annoying if you're taking a lot of pictures, but not that big of a deal in a loud casual restaurant.

                        Other than the flash, I doubt people would pay attention or care what you're doing at your table.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dave_c

                          Many digital cameras have a setting to silence the shutter sound. One of my pet peeves is people who don't do this and people who dOn't silence cell phone buttons especially when the send text messages. I don't want to hear your incessant beeping.

                          1. re: melpy

                            Yes they do, but most do not know that, and seldom turn those sounds off.


                        2. Agree with everyone - do it discreetly and quickly. Don't make a full-blown photo shoot out of it. And don't involve the waitstaff in any way.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tcamp

                            See, if I cannot make it a full-blown photo-shoot, with no patrons in the room, then I cannot imagine trying to do it. That is just me.


                          2. It doesn't bother me, at all. As a matter of fact I find it comical to think people have such an obsession with what they're eating. It's entertaining.
                            It's food, afterall, and I find people taking pictures of the most mediocre, ordinary food. I just don't understand taking a picture of a piece of pie.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: latindancer

                              I think there are lots of reasons people might take a picture of an ordinary piece of pie. We can't know them all. With today's smartphones and social media, it doesn't have to be for any kind of archiving or album or foodie blog. It may just be a person sending a picture to a friend.

                              "Remember that awesome coffee shop we stopped at during that road trip after our senior year? It is still here and they still have that great pie!"

                              "Too bad you couldn't come out with us tonight. We ordered your favorite in your honor! With ice cream..."

                              "Hey babe, you said you wanted me to bring you home a piece of apple pie. But the crust is that kind you don't like and the filling looks kind of runny. Still want it? Or maybe this piece of cheesecake would be better?"

                            2. I agree with a lot of the things said. but more and more people are traveling to places for the food in particular. Foodie treks.

                              I see nothing wrong with it unless someone is being super obnoxious about it. Food is an experience so why shouldn't people be able to take a picture.

                              I do agree make sure you have a good camera or sense of vision but feel free. There shouldn't be rules.

                              1. I photograph food I cook at home. I'm too shy to take pictures in a restaurant.

                                1. Ok I understand if someone takes a half a dozen photos of their food in a restaurant with a flash for each photo, but a SINGLE flash is rude? My attitude is lighten up people.

                                  27 Replies
                                  1. re: John E.

                                    Nope, I'm not saying it's rude. What folk do is a matter for them.

                                    I'm saying it irritates me. That is my problem, not theirs. I've no doubt it would never cross their minds that their actions might irritate someone.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      I concur. Someone circling around a table, photographing an inanimate object, summons up imagery of a morgue.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Well, most of the photographic images that I see here, and on most food blogs, COULD have been shot in a morgue. They make me want to seek out the "air sickness bag," rather than dine at ____. Most people cannot take a decent picture of food, if given a world-class stylist three trained assistants, and my 2,500 lbs. of lighting. Ain't gonna' happen. They have not one clue, nor do they have the aesthetic capability to understand how horrid their photographs look, when done. They should cease, and get a life.

                                        Also, they too often annoy me, and I have paid well for my meal and enjoyment.


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          Wow. That's pretty harsh, Bill. No, not pretty harsh. REALLY harsh.

                                          Being the daughter of a still photographer/motion picture cameraman, I will say you don't NEED your 2,500 lbs. of lighting equipment to get a good shot. When I was 15-16 years old, I took some pictures of an ice storm with my Instamatic 110 camera. When my father got home from a film trip and saw the developed photos, he was pissed I had used his good camera equipment without his OK. It wasn't until my mother told him I had used the Instamatic that he believed me. AND he was impressed.

                                          People are taking pictures to put on their blog. We get it that you don't like it. But was it really necessary to disparage them and the (usually pretty good) photos they put on their blogs?

                                          As you said immediately below: "Let's say that if something does not totally destroy the "free world, as we know it," then it's perfectly fine."

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            Bill is one of the most polite posters here and I've never heard him be that harsh before. I think he's just enjoyed a bit too much wine before posting. : )

                                            To answer the OP, DH photographs (no flash) his food just for his own reference. He doesn't blog but likes to look back to certain meals now and then. I don't have issue with it but do find it annoying at times when I want to dig in.

                                            Flash can definitely be annoying at times. Recently I was at a 24 course meal/event where the table next to me used flash. I just ignored them and ended up talking to the people on the other side of me (who happened to be in the food industry and ended up giving us some black truffles from their "stash")!

                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Thank you for the kind words, but no, I have just seen too many horrible food photographs used on the Internet, whether on blogs, or social media.

                                              I have a highly developed sense of aesthetic, and love great food photography, whether in ads, or in editorial use. I know what goes into those shots, and appreciate them on many levels. I never did serious food photography, and always turned clients to those, who could do it, and do it properly. However, I did spend a lot of time photographing food, along with many other shots for resorts and lodges, so I know what goes into it. Even compared to what I did, real "food photography" is in another league, and I never played in that one.

                                              As I replied to LindaWhit, not all food shots are unappealing, but too many are. I do not understand how so many can "publish" such shots, and were I the chef, I'd have my attorney on stand-by, as too many would run off clients.

                                              I see much the same on "travel blogs," where some folk fancy themselves travel writers and travel photographers. After looking at some, I would not wish to stay there, on a bet, regardless of how glowing the words were. Some people have a good eye, and many are good photographers at a technical level, but too many are just not cut out for it, or capable of it.

                                              I cannot imagine trying to enjoy MY 24-course meal, near a table, where some food bloggers were using flash to "capture" every course. I would demand to be reseated, and far from those folk. I dine to enjoy. I pay well for that luxury. If I review, I do so with mental notes, and a copy of the menu and wine list to guide me. I wish to intrude on my mates, at a tiny level, and nothing beyond talking about the dishes and their ingredients.

                                              If one wishes to do food photography, to support their blog, or whatever, they should schedule a session with the chef, before guests arrive, and do it correctly.

                                              Just my feelings and observations,


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                The people who are posting pics and/or writing about food and/or travel are not professionals. They're doing it for the personal enjoyment of it. THEIR personal enjoyment. And sharing it with whoever wishes to read their blogs/look at their pictures. You don't seem to like their blogs and/or photos.

                                                This is a fact of the Internet world, Bill. Since you don't like it, reserving a private room every single time you dine out sounds like the only answer. :::Shrug:::

                                                1. re: LindaWhit


                                                  I completely agree with you. However, that CAN be part of the problem. It's like walking into the Porche Design Group's offices, with the drawings for a Yugo, and expecting them to be impressed. It is just not going to happen.

                                                  For those, who post dreadful images of food, with their blog, or their social media site, they need to get over themselves. Most people do not feel the same way, as the posters do. Posting horrible photographs is sort of like "self love," taken to an extreme.

                                                  Much of the world has become fairly sophisticated. They get to see great food photographs, and travel photographs, almost everywhere. Having to look at dreadful food photos is akin to being invited to a friend's house, where one is subjected to 6 hours of slideshows of out of focus images of some place, that they cannot identify.

                                                  I see far more instances of "Hey, I am a hot food blogger, and these are the images of all of the dishes that I have eaten over the last 5 years! You need to be impressed by me, since I shot 1,000 pictures of every dish that I have had, though you cannot recognize any of them... "

                                                  Now, if the writing is good, and so are the photographs, then it is a different story. If the photographs are bleak, then let ONLY the words carry the story.

                                                  Without doing a full study, I would surmise that about 10% of the food photographs are good, and appear appetizing. The rest? Get rid of them. They do not do justice to the plates, or so I hope. I find that 90% to be highly ego-centric, and not worth displaying.

                                                  Unless well-done, I would be more likely impressed by the words, than some gratuitous, and bad, food photographs. It becomes "Look at me. I am a food blogger, and have a camera."

                                                  Maybe I am alone here, but I see so very much dreck, that I am not impressed by, that I have developed a strong, negative feeling. Show me good, or better yet, great, food photographs, and I will stand in line to see them, plus read the reviews.

                                                  In many of my reviews, I will include photographs of the restaurant, and maybe even some interiors, but seldom shots of the food, as I do not feel that I can do them justice, without the time, equipment, and an empty dining room. I never shot, when there were diners, even if it meant doing the shoot at 3:00AM, or at some other "off hour."

                                                  Now, I freely admit that being "in the business," has made me jaded. It is the same thing with commercial films. I have been there, and have done that, and can be critical as heck. One of my films was nominated for an Academy Award, though it fell from the ranks of those considered, in the first round. No "red carpet" for me, and even then, the film was in a category, that would not have been mentioned on the Sunday night - "Best Commercial Short." We not only did not make the "Top Three," but did not make the second cut. Still, been there, done that.

                                                  When I do see great food shots, done while dining, without interfering with other diners, and not having 1.5 tons of equipment, I am amazed. I just do not see much of that. Instead, I see horribly front-lit (got it right this time), shots, with no depth, or color, that are muddy. They look like bad restaurant placemat photos, and are not appetizing, at least to me.

                                                  Just my personal observations, and if one wishes to post bad food images, to accompany their reviews, that is their choice.


                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    "Much of the world has become fairly sophisticated. "

                                                    Maybe your small portion of it; from what you post I assume you have a somewhat high income and travel in what some people might term "elite" circles. Not everyone is part of that world. But when they do save up enough money to once in a while visit a restaurant that is an extravagance for them (but may not be for you) just let them have their fun and take their "pedestrian" photos. It may hurt you sensibility, but in reality it does no harm to anyone and it makes those people happy.

                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Wow. Who is forcing you to look at bad photos of food? Who is forcing you to visit bad blogs?
                                                      and who really gives a crap?
                                                      Yes, I have a food blog. Yes, it is a hobby. Yes, it's done with a point and shoot camera set on "auto." Do I care if you ever see them? No. Do my friends and family like it? Yes.
                                                      Do I care that your film was up for an Academy Award? no.
                                                      I now know in what "light" to take your comments. Glad to know.

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        But, surely, blogging is inherently ego-centric, Bill. Like not taking photos of food, blogging is also something I don't want to take up.

                                                        I have some considerable agreement with your views on this (by the by, there was recently a brief discussion on the egullet UK board) where a number of folk suggested the "excessive" photography was to compensate for poor writing skills. I think there may be something in that.

                                                        Professional newspaper reviewers almost never show shots of the food and, I would guess, often rely simply on the restaurants PR shots (as they never seem to include people in them). Some while back, I was invited to submit reviews to a website - not for payment, although it was mentioned I would soon get on the PR list and get freebie invites to new openings and the like. The website would also want me to take some basic photos - may an exterior shot and a couple of the food. I thought about and went on my first "assignment" but simply didnt feel comfortable doing it so didn't . Another potentia career down the drain, eh.

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          I think there is quite a bit to that concept (excessive photography/poor writing skills)!

                                                          I've just never gotten the point of needed to document every daily event with photo's. But I'm at the far end of the argument. I seldom even think to take photos when traveling - I'm just too busy experiencing the moment for that to cross my mind!

                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            Well, I think you're being a little harsh, but having worked as a biomedical photographer for over 35 years, I can appreciate how you feel when somebody comes up to me all proud about a photo of the last royal wedding that they took with their digital point & shoot- from a TV screen. i agree that a person would be better off not including a photo than posting a horrible one. A lot of people lack the objectivity to separate the image from the memory of the experience.

                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                              Wow. I posted a photo that turned out to be an 8-bit mess and I'm not sure why, but the damn thing won't delete, so kindly ignore it while I troubleshoot.

                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                LOL -- and here I was thinking it was deliberate - -leaving us to decide if it was a plate of food or a biomedical....something.

                                                    2. re: LindaWhit


                                                      The "harshness" comes from seeing horribly lit and photographed food on myriad blogs, etc.. Very few make me want to eat those dishes. In fact, most make me want to make sure that I do not order them, or even dine in the restaurants.

                                                      If I were "selling" a house, and posted photographs, similar to many food photographs, that I have seen, I would never sell that house.

                                                      This is obviously not directed at ALL Internet food photographs. Only most of the ones that I have seen.

                                                      If I can light it properly, and style it properly (same for others), then there will be a major difference in the beauty of the food.

                                                      What I too often see are muddy, gray glops of something on a plate. They are not only usually not appetizing to look at, but do not do justice to most dishes - at least I hope not.

                                                      Just take a look at several food-oriented magazines, like "Food and Wine," "Bon Appetite," even "Travel + Leisure," and "Southern Living." Those are not usually food ads, per se, but are well-done, well-lit, and well-styled. It takes time, usually some equipment and some talent. Most folk posting images on their food blog have the benefit of none of those. They might well know their food, and write with a golden pen. However, few are worthy food photographers. That does not mean that ALL food bloggers take bad food photographs to post, but too many do.


                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                    I guess I have not experienced it enough at adjoining tables for it to annoy me. If it happened all the time, numerous flashes on each occasion, then I would be irritated.

                                                  3. re: John E.

                                                    I was in a restaurant next to a table of 4 where each person took flash photo or two. Annoying? Yes. However, it wasn't the end of the world. It just illustrates how clueless people are or they just don't care about other people.

                                                    1. re: dave_c

                                                      The little child, from three tables away, puking onto our mains was not "the end of the world," though not what we wanted either.

                                                      Let's say that if something does not totally destroy the "free world, as we know it," then it's perfectly fine. So long as we survive the fire, then we should not complain?


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        Basically, from my point of view, I'm not going to get bent out of shape over 8 flashes over a span of 20 to 30 seconds. It's just not worth getting riled up for the rest of the evening.

                                                        Now a child puking into our mains is a whole different story. :-)

                                                        1. re: dave_c

                                                          That is your call. I, however, feel put upon, when the next table is lit up constantly, when I am trying to enjoy my meal, that I have paid for.


                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                      <<My attitude is lighten up people.>>

                                                      That is what is wrong with too many. When I am paying to enjoy MY food, with MY money, and the person at the next table is photographing everything with a flash, THAT intrudes on MY enjoyment - the enjoyment that I paid dearly for.

                                                      You see it as a minor inconvenience, that should just be overlooked, but then I am paying for my dining experience, and do not want any of it. Same with people, who are drunk, screaming, or throwing their food, even if only one piece of pie.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        How would you feel about a SINGLE flash? That's what my post was about. I have not personally been subjected to what apparently you have. I think your attitude is more about people not knowing what they are doing with the camera than anything else.

                                                        Another aspect I did not address....I was not referring to an ultra expensive, high end restaurant. I was referring to a more run-of -the-mill dining experience that costs far less than say, $100 per person. If it were a top restaurant, I would ask the management to tell the other diners to knock it off.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Does that single flash capture the true look and character of the dish in front of you?


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            Who cares? I don't. The person taking the photo does so for their own reasons. Just do not look at the resulting photos. Where are you seeing all of these photos that annoy you so?

                                                    3. I only take photos of the food I cook to post on Chowhound and the like and as a reference of what I made since I don't follow recipes the photo is as good as it gets in trying to replicate

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        That is totally different.

                                                        Though now retired, I shoot others' meals, and usually for their cookbooks. However, that is private, and in a studio, or on location, near their kitchens. There are NO diners involved. I get to light, and style their food, and provide them with great images. That is one reason why I would never shoot food, in a restaurant - I cannot light it properly, I cannot close the restaurant, so as to not bother a patron, and I do not have hours to do it correctly. That is why I do not do it.


                                                      2. Depends. I have resisted to photo foods unless I am "hidden" or "alone". Otherwise, I try to do it as quick as I can. Just put yourself in others' shoes.

                                                        1. We spent how many years never taking pictures of our food and now that we have cameras in our phones everone is a photographer. I am against the practice personally. If others want to do it and are discrete, fine. I just want to enjoy my dinner and not take pictures of it. After all, I survived all those years eating great meals without doing it.

                                                          1. I do, at home and in restaurants.

                                                            At home, I take my time and take multiple shots (but will not waste food to take pictures); prepping, cooking, eating ...

                                                            At restaurants, I take 1, 2 shots max. of a dish; no flash, no setup, sometimes they turn out bad, but most of the time they are ok, even in dark-ish environments.

                                                            I assume my dorkiness 100%. :-)

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Maximilien

                                                              "Dork" is a term of affection, I assure you.

                                                              1. re: Maximilien

                                                                << ... sometimes they turn out bad, >>

                                                                That is what I see most often. I see horrible images posted most often, and wonder "why?" Few, if any, make me want to order those dishes, or even dine at those restaurants. They look like ca-ca, and I ask myself, "why?"

                                                                Some feel that any "visual," is better than "no visual." I feel strongly, that they are wrong - very wrong.


                                                              2. How do you get the food to pose?

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: beevod

                                                                  You must eat much fresher food than me.

                                                                  1. re: beevod

                                                                    Oh, there are so very many "tricks" on getting food to "pose." If one is shooting THE food, there are legal aspects of what one can do for an ad, but if they are shooting a scene, WITH food, then things lighten up greatly. Still, a good stylist, a good gaffer and a good photographer can make a world of difference.

                                                                    For food photographs, you should hire a good stylist, and a good food photographer with a great gaffer in the crew.


                                                                  2. Do you use a flash? If so, then you are likely bothering other diners. If you are doing a time exposure, then go for it.


                                                                    1. Go ahead and click away, just don't be too suprised if you find some extended middle fingers in the backround from strangers.

                                                                      1. I've never seen the point of photographing restaurant food.

                                                                        If you can take a photo unobtrusively (without flash), okay. If you can't, and your blog is so important that you simply MUST photograph this, then have a word with the chef/owner and set up a session for another time, when you can screw around with the lighting and focus to your heart's content when there's no one in the dining room to annoy.

                                                                        Ever since the maroon at the next table moved chairs **at my table** and **asked me to please move** so he could move his own table and chairs to stand up and take flash photos with the junky little Walmart-special camera he was sporting, I've been pretty down on the whole trend.

                                                                        The only time I have ever photographed my food was when I was decorating birthday cakes on a regular basis...I took those photos in the kitchen when no one else was around...because there's no way to show people what you can do unless you have photos, in that particular discipline. (carrying a layer cake around with you is SUCH a hassle....)

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          Ever since the maroon at the next table moved chairs **at my table** and **asked me to please move** so he could move his own table and chairs to stand up and take flash photos with the junky little Walmart-special camera he was sporting, I've been pretty down on the whole trend.
                                                                          I would be interested in what your response was, just because you're always in such a good mood and everything. :)

                                                                          1. re: Samalicious

                                                                            I would not have described my reaction as being warm and accommodating.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              I guess the "maroon" was really a moron. What he did was totally rude. However, most people taking photos aren't that intrusive or abrasive.

                                                                              Where are you people eating for Pete's sake?

                                                                              If eating out is such a hallowed experience then get a private dining room! This argument is totally ridiculous!

                                                                              And Bill - I have followed your posts for years and usually respect your opinions. I don't care if you are a retired professional photographer - you are way off base with your opinions here. And that's just MY opinion.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  Bugs! Of course! I got it right away. We say that all the time in my house!

                                                                            2. re: Samalicious

                                                                              Ha! I would have said "Go thee forth and multiply", or words to that effect.

                                                                              1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                Whoa. What bad conduct!

                                                                                When I am enjoying MY evening, I do not wish to be intruded upon, by any food blogger.

                                                                                If they are THAT important, they can come back, in off hours, and do their photography. When I have paid for MY evening, I do not wish to be intruded upon, by anyone.


                                                                            3. I take a quick iPhone snap of memorable dishes in restaurants. I know they quality's not great - but I don't show them around! They're more for me to remember as I then try to recreate the true highlights when I get home.

                                                                              Maybe I am one of the hated - but I wouldn't think twice about using a flash in a restaurant. What if you want to take a few snaps of a group gathered to celebrate a special occasion? I think the diners who would object to that are being more unreasonable than people who want a photo of their event.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: feggy

                                                                                Taking flash photos of people for special occasions in the lives of those people is completely acceptable (as with all things...to a point)

                                                                                Taking flash photos of an inanimate object that is the same as is on any of a number of plates around the room is not -- particularly when those around you are paying at least as much money as you are to enjoy a meal.

                                                                              2. Meanmartin, I photograph my food in restaurants too. I don't think it's dorky at all. I use my iPhone and I never use the flash and I have the shutter sound turned off.

                                                                                My fellow restaurant patrons would have to be watching what is going on at my table to know that I was taking photos. If they are watching me photograph my food, perhaps they need better dinner companions.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: ChillyDog

                                                                                  " If they are watching me photograph my food, perhaps they need better dinner companions."

                                                                                  Hahaha. Brilliant.


                                                                                2. I just want to bring up another ramification of flash photography. It can trigger epileptic episodes or migraines for some people.

                                                                                  I'm in the migraine camp and it is so frustrating to be caught in a situation with flash photography. If I see it coming I can close my eyes, change seating places or ask for a new table. If I am caught unaware I have about twenty minutes before I seem like a very drunk three year old. Having to leave immediately kind of disrupts the evening for my entire table. Loosing a few days to pain is a whole 'nother frustration.

                                                                                  1. This funny send-up just appeared on YouTube
                                                                                    If you don't find it funny - maybe it hits too close to home. :-)


                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: G8trDoc

                                                                                      Omg that is hilarious!

                                                                                      Thanks - best laugh I've had all day!

                                                                                    2. > does it bother other people?

                                                                                      I do it whenever a restaurant over or under achieves. Staff reactions vary all over the map. I mostly photograph over-achievement. But there are times when ...

                                                                                      Last weekend, kitchen staff dropped a catering order for 20 in the parking lot. When she began yammering about this piece did not hit the ground, because it was resting on another piece, I began taking photos to document why I would be rejecting that dish of appetizers. (no telling where the shards from the broken ceramic dish ended-up) It was he-said, she-said with the mgr ... until I pulled up the photos of food on asphalt.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: rainsux

                                                                                        While I'm disgusted...that's a whole nuther thang than photographing your meal while seated in the restaurant and completely acceptable.

                                                                                      2. I don't see why it's rude at all. I don't do it--but, I'm not big on photographing anything. My partner, however, is an obsessive photographer. He photographs almost every meal in every restaurant--really just to mark the occasion. It might bother me, the other eater, especially when I want to dig in, but it certainly isn't rude.

                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                          but doesn't "bothers the other eater" pretty much define rude?

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            Not at all. Rude is defined as "offensively impolite or ill-mannered." What bothers a person is not always "offensively impolite or ill-mannered ." I'm bothered by guys that wear no socks with shoes to work, but it's hardly "offensively impolite or ill-mannered."

                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                              sorry -- if they don't know it bothers you then it's not rude.

                                                                                              But if someone knows that a given behaviour bothers someone else and does it anyway? Inconsiderate at best, which is a kissin' cousin of downright rude.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                It's just a relationship thing. I'm not THAT bothered...not to the point where I think it's rude. Besides, it's a matter of give and take--we should be "forgiving" with each other. I get forgiven for my little quirks too.

                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                  i think the trouble with equating "bothers the other eater" with "rude" is that one can also say that "i am bothered by you thinking that my photo-taking is rude - why can't you just chill".

                                                                                                  heh don't shoot me. just a random thought that came to my mind when i was reading the thread, and i decided to play devil's advocate.

                                                                                                  1. re: akated

                                                                                                    then you would have understood from the rest of the posts that if you can do it in such a manner that it's unnoticed by most of the other diners, then it's a non-issue.

                                                                                                    It's the full-scale production that pisses people off with moving centerpieces and chairs (and other diners!) and flash and standing up to frame it -- THAT is rude. Grabbing a quick non-flash shot with your iPhone or small automatic camera is still weird, imo, but if that floats your boat, whatever.

                                                                                                    I still don't understand this need to photograph one's plate...and I'm bored to tears with blog posts stuffed with rapturous writeups...not even a comment on the calibre of the photographs...I just don't enjoy reading them (so I don't -- to head off that criticism -- I just scroll or click on by, as the case may be)

                                                                                            2. re: Wawsanham

                                                                                              Well, let's see. I am hosting a meal at Everest in Chicago. Besides our $ 3,000 dinner, with wines, we are talking about some major business deals. We are enjoying our meals, and our wines. Then, some "yahoo" decides to start photographing their meal - every course! We are both in the frame, though in the background, but also within the visual field of their flash, over and over.

                                                                                              First, the flash is intruding on OUR enjoyment, and second, we do NOT wish to be photographed together, as the press releases have NOT been sent out yet. Just our presence, together, is fodder for the WSJ, Modern Healthcare, Financial Times of London, and many more. We do not appreciate that, in any way. Besides, we are spending our $, and our time, and do not wish to be part of any "food blogger's" Web site. We did not invite them. We do not appreciate their intrusion on our evening, in any way.


                                                                                            3. I'll weigh in and say that photographing food in restaurants doesn't generally bother me. It can get a bit tedious if a lot of people are doing it continuously in the room. For example, DH and I were at a favorite steak resto that had Flinstonian Tomahawk steaks on the menu. Just about everyone who had that plate put in front of them pulled out their phone and snapped a photo!
                                                                                              I happen to also think it's a bit of a disservice to the restaurant/chef when crappy photos are taken of gorgeous food. I had a food blog and still love food photography and work to hone my talent with photographing food with my equipment. I would not post a crappy photo publicly out of respect. It just is an unfair representation of someone's work. If you can't do it right, just don't do it. That's just *my* motto and I stand by it. I think people might be turned off to the food if the photo is crap. I know I am.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                "I happen to also think it's a bit of a disservice to the restaurant/chef when crappy photos are taken of gorgeous food. I had a food blog and still love food photography and work to hone my talent with photographing food with my equipment. I would not post a crappy photo publicly out of respect."

                                                                                                Yep. Here's where I fall. I dine out often. Photograph my food always. And if the photo is publish worthy, it goes up on a website. If its dreck, it gets trashed. My name is on that photo, so its got to show care in composition, and very good execution. In all I probably take less than a minute to take three photos in two different setting modes.

                                                                                                Do people notice? I suppose. Do they care? I sincerely don't think so.

                                                                                                1. re: RedTop

                                                                                                  That is sort of how I feel. While I was never a "food photographer," I did a lot of it, for brochures, and ads, for resorts. I know what needs to go into it. A flash-on-camera is NOT how it's done.

                                                                                                  I also only shot, when the restaurant was closed, lit the dishes, and used a food stylist to complete the assignment.

                                                                                                  Lot of difference between photographing one's food, when there are other diners, in near proximity. I would never have done that - not even on a bet.


                                                                                                2. re: monavano

                                                                                                  "I happen to also think it's a bit of a disservice to the restaurant/chef when crappy photos are taken of gorgeous food."


                                                                                                  On the other hand, I love going to Foodspotting to see what the food *really* looks like when it comes out of the kitchen, as opposed to the overly-produced, idealized, professional pictures that are on the Web site.

                                                                                                3. I get offended by the tackiness of photographing one's food. So, noise, flash, excessive shuffling done in the process of photographing one's food will absolutely bother me. If I notice someone photographing their food, then I will likely comment on it to whomever is with me.

                                                                                                  If food photography is done unobtrusively...so unobtrusively that I don't realize it occurred...then it won't bother me because I won't know it happened.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                    Thank you...glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

                                                                                                  2. Plus, there's the food photographers who feel the need to share it. Blog or whatever - I mean, call me and I'll design some shirts that just read "Please acknowledge my existence" - with any sort of graphic you like.

                                                                                                    So, on this issue, as they used to say, "I'm with Bill" and so is the guy who wrote this piece, which is quite funny and rings true:


                                                                                                    Oh, and that's without getting into the time I glared down a "seated at a table too close to me" guy who appeared to be looking to snap a shot of my plate of oysters. Funny thing is, the camera didn't come out again while we were still there.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      Depending on the quality of the oysters, he just might have had a really, really close-up shot of one of my oysters.

                                                                                                      I'm a pretty mean shot with a fork, used like a catapult. But not if they were really good oysters.

                                                                                                    2. What bothers me is that so many people have the need to post their poorly lit, badly composed, out-of-focus photos.

                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: cavandre

                                                                                                        "What bothers me is that so many people have the need to post their poorly lit, badly composed, out-of-focus photos."

                                                                                                        And like many people up above said, are you forced to look at these photos? No. I am not a fan of photographing food at restaurtants at all, but if people want to do it, so what. I have never once been forced to look at any of their photos.

                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                          That's what I thought was particularly funny about the GQ article I linked above - the idea that people are now "instagramming" their blurry, poorly lit pics.

                                                                                                        2. re: cavandre

                                                                                                          I know me too. There are some horrible photos on chow.com. I'm amazed everyone doesn't know how to take really good pictures.

                                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                                            Every day I go to Mass and say 3 decades of the Rosary to atone for the sins of the bad photographers. I especially hate the ones who break into my house in the middle of the night and put a gun to my head, making me view their out of focus pictures.

                                                                                                            It's terrible i tell you. Terrible.

                                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                                              tommy said:

                                                                                                              >>>I'm amazed everyone doesn't know how to take really good pictures.<<<

                                                                                                              Sarcasm? I do not know you well enough to know.

                                                                                                            2. re: cavandre

                                                                                                              Too much of what I see currently, falls squarely into that genre.

                                                                                                              Now, everyone thinks that they ARE "food photographers," and that the entire world is just hanging, waiting to see their latest art. Trust me - they are not.


                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                That's hilarious. It's not that everyone thinks that they ARE "food photographer" BH--it's that we've all become food critics.

                                                                                                            3. As long as I am not aware of someone taking photos, then it is fine.

                                                                                                              Personally, I would never take pictures of my dinner as I think it is tacky and also bad manners. But then I was brought up in the generation that were told off for putting "elbows on the table". Taking photos, especially in a fine dining environment is rude.

                                                                                                              I have seen people using oversized SLR cameras and standing up to get the best light. Also I have heard of people using video cameras and tripods.

                                                                                                              Most professional food critics don't tend to use photos of their plates in their write up. Any photos used are either PR supplied or of the establishment. Food bloggers could learn from this and improve their creative writing skills.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                When the NY Times reviews restaurants the reviewer doesn't take pictures of the various dishes but after the review visits are done the paper sends a staff photographer around. Take a look -


                                                                                                                I think the writing skills of the Times reviewers are just fine. Photographs provide an additional piece of information.

                                                                                                                The Internet has opened a whole new world of food criticism. The fact that you're posting on Chowhound is a prime example of that. The ability to complement reviews with matching photographs is another.

                                                                                                                Sure, setting up a tripod in the middle of a busy restaurant is obviously overkill but for every idiot who does that there are hundreds of people who take a couple of quick shots without using a flash.

                                                                                                                1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                  Can you define exactly what you think is rude about taking photos in a fine dining environment? This is a statement that I've heard before and I'd genuinely love to hear your or anyone's thoughts on this. I'd like to have someone pinpoint exactly why this is offensive behaviour.

                                                                                                                  1. re: PhilipS


                                                                                                                    The photos used by professional reviewers (not folk, who blog from their mom's basement, but are actually professionals) are usually done, before, or after the dinner service, and the kitchen prepares the dishes FOR the photographs. Even then, and depending on the photographer, they might not look their best. Food photography is very involved, and not even every professional photographer is capable of getting the good shots.


                                                                                                                  2. This is an interesting topic because I believe that it opens up a much broader conversation relating to the commodification of food, the theory behind the photography, what photography means to different cultures, I mean, one could go on forever on the subject.

                                                                                                                    I find it remarkable what a social experiment taking photos of your food can be in a restaurant setting. (Should it be? Should people not just mind their own business?) It brings out a definite response in people and I've experienced a wide range of different reaction from onlookers watching me taking photos of my food. I was once at a restaurant next to a table full of young diners that just would not stop staring in our direction. Our food came and I snapped a shot of the plate, giving the table full of kids next to us a veritable green light to whip out their cameras and start flicking away. It was cute, and kind of played out like the spaghetti class scene in Tampopo.

                                                                                                                    As mentioned above, I've taken photos of my food before. I started out documenting my travels not only for my own memory but for people that couldn't go with me. My SO is a chef and would destroy me if I came back from a trip that she couldn't go on and didn't take photos of every dish that was set on the table. However, it did spark an interest in photography for me and I developed a great love for the art form through my innocent snaps of the dishes that I ordered at restaurants.

                                                                                                                    I don't do it too much anymore as I feel that I've grown out of the subject matter and the food that I see these days doesn't interest me as frequently as it did before, but don't get me wrong, I'll still take a shot of a plate I find interesting and I would encourage others to do the same. After all, if food is what it takes for more people to pick up cameras and discover photography then by all means. It's like the fixie trend in cycling, how can you hate on more and more people buying bicycles, riding them, and getting in good shape. It's the best trend of all time. Photography in any form is a gateway to creativity and you can't really hate on that too much.

                                                                                                                    Unless of course it interferes with ones enjoyment which is where I will agree with a lot of what people on here are saying about flash photography. I can stand it within reason but the guy with the flash bulb sitting a foot away from me taking photos of the crumbs on the white linen needs to pump the brakes a bit, but other than that I'm all for it.

                                                                                                                    1. I don't think it's rude and it's nobody else's business. My son and his partner do it all the time and post the pix on facebook. I live vicariously through them.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                                        Do the nearby diners, who are paying for their meals, and their dining experiences, also live "vicariously though them?" Somehow, I highly doubt it.


                                                                                                                      2. I find it amazing that this thread is continuing to go on. As long as you are not using flash or interfering with the staff or other guests (by standing in the way, setting up a tripod, or creating a major distraction), it's no one else's business whether or not you are photographing your food. Why should anyone care? I never do it, but have been known to ask a server to take a single photo of us (yes, with flash) to remember a special occasion. I do not find this objectionable if others do it, and am sorry if it bothers anyone if we do it.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                          as above -- a flash photo (maybe 2) of people on a special event...not objectionable.

                                                                                                                          If you make it noticeable to others that you're taking photos...then it's rude. If it's discreet and doesn't draw attention...a few photos is okay.

                                                                                                                        2. I love photographing food that I make and exceptional dishes that I try at other establishments. One, I like to share on social networks, two, I like to Yelp about great experiences. I usually try without the flash to not bother other patrons.

                                                                                                                          1. We recently dined at an up-scale San Francisco restaurant. The diner beside us, was busy photographing each dis. I thought about this (and similar) threads. He was from the James Beard House, and was doing some "research."

                                                                                                                            OK, so be it.


                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                              Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                              We had a similar experience in DC recently.Husband's take on it used to be,"it's just tiresome"......
                                                                                                                              now,the revised take is "it's become a curse".

                                                                                                                            2. Drives me crazy at a big multi-course meal (think Chinatown with a LARGE table, or an 8 course tasting at some place more refined) when a member of my party insists on taking a pic of EVERY SINGLE DISH even with no flash before anyone starts eating. Turns the meal into a photo shoot and really impinges on the vibe of the occasion.

                                                                                                                              I've actually been scolded for, horrors, eating the food before they get their precious pic.

                                                                                                                              But then I don't take a lot of photos when I travel (I like to actually experience things with my eyes instead of through a viewfinder) and find facebook pretty silly.

                                                                                                                              1. Never in restaurants, but I enjoy photographing most meals and snacks at home just for the fun of it.

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                  I have no problem with people taking and posting photos of things they have cooked. I occasionally like to cook things and then post a photo of the recipe book picture and then my "creation". Usually for humour value.

                                                                                                                                  1. A friend emailed me this photo

                                                                                                                                    23 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                        Now that is obnoxious (the 4 of them taking pics, not your friend taking the photo of them all taking photos).

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure that it is a joke. But it has given me some ideas. Next time someone takes an obvious photo of their food in a restaurant, I will take a photo of them and put it on my blog.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                I don't think it is... I've been at tables almost that bad, smart phones, not DSLRs, but almost as bad.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                                What's really sad is that I immediately recognized the back room at Cafe Medina in Vancouver :-).

                                                                                                                                                I've been at dinners where this sort of scene is not uncommon and I have to admit it makes me more uncomfortable in certain types of restaurants than in others. I think use of flash to photograph food under any circumstances is beyond the pale.

                                                                                                                                                For the record, I have a small point and shoot. I take two shots of a dish that I think looks interesting, no flash, no setting up the shot, from my own seat. If the shot turns out okay, I might post it here but mostly they are for my own reference/memory jog. I sometimes take photos of menus if they don't appear online. I would cease and desist immediately if asked by anyone in the restaurant, staff or patron.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                                  I love this. Also, may I point out the table next to them, seemingly still somehow managing to enjoy their meal!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                                    "may I point out the table next to them, seemingly still somehow managing to enjoy their meal!"

                                                                                                                                                    Don't be fooled. The people at the next table were secretly seething with rage that the sacred decorum of the dining room had been breached by the devilish scourge of digital photography.

                                                                                                                                                    Actually, that picture was undoubtedly staged. The odds that 4 people would all carry big 35MM DSLRs is remote. Usually people use much smaller cameras. They used the big cameras in the photo to maximize the effect.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                      "The odds that 4 people would all carry big 35MM DSLRs is remote"

                                                                                                                                                      If there were food bloggers out for a nosh, then I would say there is a good chance all would have 35mm.

                                                                                                                                                      Plus the guy taking the photo was probably standing up judging by the angle of the shot.

                                                                                                                                                      I would guess the people at the other table are doing their best to ignore the photographers and try and not be part of the shot.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                                        I live in New York and go out to eat at least 3 times a week. I have never, *never* seen more than one person with a DSLR and that's a rare thing. They're big and awkward. The bloggers I know, major ones that are often quoted by sites like Eater, tend not to use them.

                                                                                                                                                        Philip, I see that you were the person who originally posted that photo. You said a friend had emailed it to you. Could you ask him where he got it? If he took it himself then of course I'm wrong about the photo being staged. If he got it from some place like the Onion then it would be a joke.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                          I was at Jean George a couple years ago and saw a full table of 6 all with DSLR's. One girl even had a 50mm on so she had to tip her chair back to get the shot. I'm not talking about entry level DSLR's either, I'm talking D4's.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                                                                                                            You may want to check out the picture posted by Philip. It wasn't taken at John Georges. In fact, one of the photographers was wearing a T-shirt and two others are wearing hoodies. Upscale dining this ain't.

                                                                                                                                                            I've asked Philip to find out from his friend where the photo in question came from. Until he gets back to us I'm not going to speculate.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                              I've seen the picture.

                                                                                                                                                              Does that make it better or worse that it's not fine dining?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                                                                                                                My point is that restaurants like Jean Georges, Per Se, EMP, the French Laundry are special occasion places that might bring out the DSLRs, the heavy guns of photography.

                                                                                                                                                                OTOH the restaurant in the picture looks like Frankies House of Flapjacks. It wouldn't get the DSLR treatment, let along 4 or them.

                                                                                                                                                                Just because there's a picture on the Internet doesn't mean it's real.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, gotcha.

                                                                                                                                                                  I was just saying that I eat out frequently in NYC and have seen more than one DSLR on occasion. That said, I've never seen 4 DSLR's at TGI Friday's.

                                                                                                                                                                  I think major bloggers aside from Ulterior Epicure would maybe benefit from a DSLR from time to time.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                            My friend got it from another contact. He didn't take it himself- so I would think this is an internet Chinese Whisper thing.

                                                                                                                                                            This sort of thing is very common in Asia and there are several website dedicated to food photographers.


                                                                                                                                                          3. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                                            Dunno if it's real or staged but as I said above, that photo was taken in the back room at Cafe Medina in Vancouver. I recognize the table tops, the skillets and the room layout.

                                                                                                                                                            I still shudder at the memory of a food-blogger dinner at a very well known and fairly high end restaurant in the Bay Area where there were several people with just such giganto photo-beasts, taking dozens of shots and bouncing the flash off the high ceiling. For three full courses. Agony. To be fair, there were indeed other bloggers with small and unassuming cameras.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                                              Maybe, when I make my next restaurant reservations, I should request a "non-blogging" section, like one would do, years ago, with a "non-smoking section."

                                                                                                                                                              I used to avoid any restaurant, that had "live music" on certain nights. Now I need to look to see if there is a "food blog-a-thon" going on, and avoid those evenings, as well.

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps restaurants should just photograph the dishes, when the staff gets to taste, before the night's service, and then hand off CD's with JPEG's of each dish, to any diner, who wants them to post, tweet or whatever? That would likely save their OTHER patrons a lot of eye-strain, and likely yield much better images too.


                                                                                                                                                      2. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                                        While maybe THAT photo was staged, we were recently at a Michelin 2-star restaurant in London. There were two couples, and the guys both had DSLR's. They shot every dish of theirs, plus their dates, and even would come back to a dish, shoot it with a cellular phone/camera, send that, then share the responses with their table-mates.

                                                                                                                                                        They went so far as to ask diners, beyond their table, to duck down, so that they would not appear in their shots. Luckily, for them, I was about 3 tables away.

                                                                                                                                                        The world has gone a bit crazy. I cannot imagine that anyone wants a tweet, "I flossed after my meal." or similar. I also cannot imagine that the whole world is hanging on photographs of what ____ had that night - but maybe I am wrong, and a "flossing tweet" is just what you really want?


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                          thanks for backing me up on asking others to duck out of the photo, Bill -- everyone prefers to think I'm making it up that the buffoon next to me actually asked me to move my chair.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately, I have been there.

                                                                                                                                                            While I respect photo-ops, and attempt to move beyond the coverage of the lens, that is in more open situations - not while I am dining at a near-by table.

                                                                                                                                                            In an open situation, unless I was totally oblivious to the camera (not very likely, as that was my career for four decades), I would move aside, and always try to do. However, when I am dining, I do not care one whit about someone shooting pictures near me, beyond the annoyance that their flash brings.

                                                                                                                                                            Also, I have seen many hundreds of "food photographs," posted all over, and maybe only 1% would make me want to dine at ___, and order dish ____. They look repulsive, and are but "scalps," in someone's culinary "belt."

                                                                                                                                                            <soapbox rant ON>
                                                                                                                                                            Before anyone goes ballistic, and takes things totally out of context, as some seem prone to do, the word "scalps" do NOT apply to human hair and skin, and should NOT be construed to be offensive to anyone. The term is but a euphemism for a "trophy," and nothing more. If one is offended, then I suggest getting over it, and in a hurry.
                                                                                                                                                            <soapbox rant OFF>

                                                                                                                                                            When I am dining, I wish to be totally left alone by ALL patrons, and to only interact with my service team, and the sommelier. I will make an exception for the chef, and will usually welcome him/her, should they wish to visit. Beyond that, please leave me totally alone.


                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, stuff like this actually happens! It's absurd.

                                                                                                                                                        2. A couple of years back when small digital cameras became popular my wife and I were in a fairy nice restaurant. A woman at the table beside us received her entree and she took out her camera and climbed on her chair and proceeded to take a few dozen photos It looked like she was new to digital photography. She changed settings before each shot. Everyone just sat and stared at her. She then proceeded to eat her dinner with her friend.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                            And we see video of people such as this on television all the time too. Behavior is the new tv program. Why would seeing it live and in person be any different than the tv viewers turning reality tv into gold.

                                                                                                                                                            It's all relative to how technology and human behavior has changed since getting in bed together.

                                                                                                                                                            I'm surprised when anything surprises 'us' anymore.

                                                                                                                                                          2. I don't do it often enough in a restaurant and when I do it doesn't seem to bother anyone. even the 3 very dressed up cops that sat next to me in Baltimore Maryland @ "Chaps". I was there to have one of GF's DDD suggestions. only one who got pix of my really fun lunch from there that day was my husband because > no way of posting at that time to web sites using my iPhone.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Seems that some chefs are starting to resist the photography of the food in their restaurants: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/887855


                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                Bill H, are you aware you've created a new OP using the identical NYT article cited in this thread:

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ


                                                                                                                                                                  I had searched CH, before I posted, but found nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                  Even in Food Media, the searches should have picked that up, but did not.



                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                    Please take a picture of it with your cell phone.

                                                                                                                                                              2. I re-examined myself yesterday after I saw a pre-teen girl pull out her cell phone and exclaim "I want to get pictures of these" at a local cafe in regards to cheese cake being served on a paper plate (they weren't even in house make desserts)......

                                                                                                                                                                I mean, everyone really IS doing it. I usually do take pics of interesting food items or when I go to an interesting restaurant. Lately I have been using my phone vs. actual camera but wouldn't ever use a flash either way and usually have the audio turned off too. It is mainly to show other people vs. keeping for my own records.

                                                                                                                                                                1. i took 5 quick pics of my food with my friends at a very nice restaurant in San Francisco last night. servers kindly moved their hands away when i brought my phone/camera out, it took maybe 2 seconds each time a dish came out. no flash. no other table was near us. the pics are for me and my enjoyment, my memories of a pleasant evening, and i share them with friends on FB. Amazingly, NO ONE DIED while i took the pics, and even without them being professional food photographer quality (which i guess are the only people who are allowed to take pics), no one will die when they see my pics.

                                                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm with you Maria. It would have never crossed my mind to take pictures of my food, but was just at French Laundry and a few of the plates were so beautiful I too took a few pics with my camera phone- no flash.
                                                                                                                                                                    I was in the minority that night however- flashes were going off all evening, including servers taking pictures of couples and groups.
                                                                                                                                                                    Times change and I never want to be one of those old farts yelling "Get off my lawn!"

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                                                                                      thanks Bubbly! i bet your pics were wonderful and will be something you can look back on fondly. and here's to being less irritable overall!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                                                                                        Times change, but I'd rather not be that guy, where that guy is the one who is leading the charge towards complete dismissal of any semblance of good manners.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                                                                                          maybe times haven't changed, but are reverting back. there was a time when, along with "cigarette girls", restaurants and clubs would hire young women to photograph their patrons.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                            Their patrons, not their plates.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                              reply also encompasses the negative reaction to flash photography. although most of today's photos are taken by patrons, back then, and even in some establishments today, the photos were taken by employees.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                I still own a few of the photos taken at hotels inside restaurants. A small plastic tube with keychain that holds one color photo of me & my Dad in NY. Fits in the palm of your hand. If you hold it up to the light you can see the photo inside. They were taken by the hotel photographer. Offered as a service to guests and picked upon check out.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                  i know exactly what you're talking about, looks a little like a miniature megaphone. we still have beach photographers in ocean city, md that roam the beaches and take the same type of photos; however, we have to pay for these.

                                                                                                                                                                                  i bet those photos bring back wonderful memories.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                    They do! And I am delighted to hear this style of photography is still alive & well. Any idea how much is charged for one?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think they're around $10.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                                                                                            "Times change and I never want to be one of those old farts yelling 'Get off my lawn!'"

                                                                                                                                                                            The thing is, taking pictures of your food is already a "done" fad. Ten years ago it was alright to be that guy. Now, it's more like, "Really you still do that?" It's the "old farts" who continue (or worse just started) to self-indulge in taking pictures of food in restaurants and write blogs about it. (Although, if a guy set up a 4 by 6 next to me I'd respect him.)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                              I didn't realize food pics were a "done" fad. Ten years ago people didn't have cellphones with a fairly high quality camera and email capability.

                                                                                                                                                                              Maybe we are behind the times here in CA, but most of the picture takers I see are 40ish and younger.

                                                                                                                                                                              If done discreetly, it doesn't bother me and even if someone is over the top it certainly isn't any worse than an obnoxious drunken party at the next table, someone yammering loudly on their phone or bratty kids.

                                                                                                                                                                              If I want a controlled environment, I'll entertain at home.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                Well, no, but were there any serious injuries?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Using flash is rude, not to mention that poor quality...

                                                                                                                                                                              I used to tote my DSLR around when I first started blogging, but now I find my once-best friend bulky and in the way. And with iPhones taking great photos nowadays, it's just easier to ninja a shot without being so conspicuous...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. I take pics all the time. I don't use flash (ok. Well, I did once, about 6 years ago when I'd just gotten a new camera and wasn't familiar with the settings, and I let one flash photo fly before realizing that I hadn't turned it off.), I don't stand on chairs, and I keep to my table when I take pictures. And if a restaurant makes it known to me by policy or other notice that photography is not allowed, I'm happy to put my camera away.

                                                                                                                                                                                I've never seen someone else stand on a chair, and while I don't doubt it has happened, I imagine that the behavior might be so shocking to some that they think they've seen it occur many more times than they actually have.

                                                                                                                                                                                And I also imagine that those who do it without any consideration at all for the reasonable comfort and enjoyment of reasonable people find a way to be rude and obtrusive in all facets of life. I think in many cases, people conflate the rudeness of some rude people who happen to take pictures of their food and the mere act of photographing food itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                I do have to say the comments about poor photography bolster no one's anti-food photography argument and assume that the utterers of them don't inflict amateurishness and incompetence upon others in the course of enjoying any and all of their leisure pursuits. And also that they are sure they'd know if they did.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I do it discreetly, once (tough luck if it's not the best shot), and flashless. I don't mind at all when people do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. It doesn't bother me; I don't even notice it happening, really. And I love looking at pictures of the food! When researching a restaurant where I'd like to eat, I always poke around to see if there are real pictures of the meals out there, and not just the art directed versions provided by the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                      I completely agree, Violatp. I am usually so engaged and interested in the people at my table that I rarely notice what is going on at the other tables in the dining room.

                                                                                                                                                                                      But I guess if I were bored with the people at my table I might start looking around and then I would see all of these people with DSLR cameras that are ordering people to duck so they can get photos of their dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                                        If the aspiring food blogger/photographer can surreptitiously capture the food, in front of them, then so be it. I have no issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                        However, if their flash is going off in my direction, in a dimly lit restaurant, or they ask me to duck down, below my table, while they shoot their food, then I am drawn into a situation, where I am not happy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It just depends.


                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                          I do not think anyone would criticize you for those feelings, Bill. If one is frequently using a flash and asking you to hide under your table, that is wrong. I think we can all agree on that.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Photographing food is tacky, uncouth, and demonstrates that the photographer probably doesn't belong in the restaurant he's in. If I see someone taking a photo of their food I always mention it to my dining companions, and we get a good laugh about it. Decorum dictates that even if you haven't been somewhere or experienced something, you act as if you have. That is why you don't approach celebrities in public and start snapping photos, and that is why you don't take pictures of your steak tartare.

                                                                                                                                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                        >>>Decorum dictates that even if you haven't been somewhere or experienced something, you act as if you have. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                                        I went to Rome when I was 16. Was I wrong to take photographs? Afterall, I had never been there or experienced that before.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                                          Probably. I don't take photos and am only photographed when forced. I can't remember or picture five hours ago, but I wouldn't be caught dead taking a photo, acting as if I don't belong for the banal (maybe egotistic) pleasure of showing my friends what I had done or reminding myself of my adventures. If I can't remember my glories and failures, then the triumphs weren't so and the failings not true.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                            I am of the same mindset. Honestly, I start to get bored the moment someone even tells me they want to show me pictures.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                              Inflicting ones photos upon others (such as yourself) that do not wish to see them is completely different than simply taking photos. I would never subject someone to look at my photos unless they specifically requested I show them.

                                                                                                                                                                                              MonMauler's larger point was that taking photos in general is wrong. Are you really of "the same mindset"?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                Nope this is what my mindset shares:

                                                                                                                                                                                                "I don't take photos and am only photographed when forced. . . . If I can't remember my glories and failures, then the triumphs weren't so and the failings not true."

                                                                                                                                                                                                At bottom, I prefer anecdote to photograph. Similarly, I am inclined to tell folk takin' my picture that "I charge a likeness fee."

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fowler, I am of MonMauler's mindset when it comes to taking pictures. I did not own a camera until a couple of years ago when I bought a digital camera when I got a gift certificate from Crutchfield. I have never used it. I don't understand at all the need to document life, to catalog experience, with a camera. I don't get it at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I understand that some people feel no need to take photos. I understand that some people have no interest in documenting their lives. I understand that some people would never write travel journals. I understand that some people would never save old ticket stubs. I understand that some people would not paint landscapes they see. I understand that some people would not record conversations or the sounds of nature they have experienced. I understand that none of this interests some people. But I don't understand why those people aren't willing to understand that some others enjoy these things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ditto. It's the reason I don't post pics of my kids, or my self (or my food ) on facebook. Only the grandparents give a hoot!

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                              "That is why you don't approach celebrities in public and start snapping photos, and that is why you don't take pictures of your steak tartare."

                                                                                                                                                                                              I just want to be sure I've got this straight. Ambushing George Clooney and taking flash photos is the same thing as snapping a couple of shots of your kung pao chicken?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                Depending on the venue, it could be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I spend a lot of time with folk, who have celebrity status in some quarters. I never ask for autographs, and never have photos taken, unless we are in a "photo booth" situation, where a professional has been hired to do just that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                This is an example of such an instance. There was a photographer for the event, and this is that result.


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                  No ascot, Bill? Geesh...what is wrong with you?

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                I wish that I could attribute this comment to the right coach in the NFL (American Football), but I cannot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                When a player scored a touchdown, the celebration was way over the top. The coach pulled the player aside, afterwards, and admonished him, "even if you have never been in the endzone, act like you have!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                Some folk feel that the entire world is just hanging, waiting to see bad images of the food, that some people have in front of them. Notice: they are not.


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                  For some reason I want to attribute it to Bear Bryant. I could be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Regardless, it is one of the reasons I always loved Barry Sanders. In more than a hundred NFL touchdowns he never once spiked the ball, instead opting to simply hand it to the ref. When asked after retiring why he never celebrated a TD he said something to the effect of, "I meant to. My teammates always wanted me to, but I was always just too tired or just happy to have scored that I just forgot." Barry Sanders - one of my favorite players and one of the classiest superstars to pick up a football.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                    MonMauler, I think you are right and it was perhaps incorrectly attributed to Lombardi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't remember it the way you posted, but Bud Grant used to tell his players to act like they have been in the endzone before, and will be returning quite soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    He also never let them have heaters on the sideline. He figured the other team was going to be preoccupied with being cold. He told his players it was going to be cold and accept it and just get out there and play. It's too bad none of their Super Bowls were played outside in below freezing weather.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Just wait 'til next February in the Meadowlands . . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Openly laughing at others is good decorum?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. I only photograph my food (while my family collectively rolls their eyes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If I'm in a restaurant, and there are photos taken to commemorate some occasion, a meeting of friends, or whatever, it makes me smile for the memories that they are preserving for later reminiscence. Doesn't bother me at all. Photographing the food prepared by a chef without permission IMO is a little weird, and perhaps rude, but still wouldn't usually detract from my dining experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. A different "take" from the Motor City...


                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Like the other recent thread on this topic, this revived discussion is getting nasty and personal. We're going to lock it now.