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NY Times Article - No Pics of the food Please - I agree


Hate to say it, I agree.

I love seeing pics of a nice dish, but find it a real distraction when folks with whom I am dining take pics of every morsel as it arrives. For me, it's about the food, not the pics of the food.

I'm also the guy who is VERY moderate when taking pics on vaca... I'd rather see Tuscany with my eyeballs rather than through the lens of my camera. Call me crazy.


Thoughts? Comments?

  1. i can think of only a few times I've taken a photo of my food. usually when our favorite sushi chef sends over some particularly lovely amuse... I'm with you tho Striper, I don't take a lot of pictures on vacation either.

    1. It's about time somebody said it -- long overdue, and warmly welcomed.

      1. Most of the article address that people snapping photos with a flash, standing on chairs or setting up a rig, which all can be very annoy and distracting to the other clients and customers.

        However, if someone is sitting normally, taking photos with no flash and their camera or cellphone is silent, the owners have no leg to stand on.

        1. I'm over taking fancy camera shots, although Mrs. O will still art-direct her iPhone shots by moving table items out of the way, and sometimes standing up - though NEVER on her chair! But I agree with you about cameras and travel; my first trip abroad, to Italy in 1980, was observed compulsively and almost constantly through a viewfinder, to the great detriment of my own experience. My budget, too, since I was feeding tourist-shop Ektachrome into the camera at two or three rolls a day!

          Discreet photography with a small camera does not bother me much, and with a phone not at all. DISCREET, I said; this does not include everybody at the table getting up and posing, or any major or noisy moving of furniture.

          1. I am generally against any kinds of electronics/communication paraphenalia at the dinner table. I have been at nice restaurants where parents set their kids up with some kind of I-pad just to keep them entertained, and I've asked the manager to ask the parents to turn down the volume of the cartoons being played.

            Though I feel it's a losing battle, I do think it's an area where diners and consumers must take a stand.

            1. A little sidebar...

              Frome the article, Ko is a Michelin star restaurant and the host wears jeans plus hip-hop music blaring?

              I guess I don't know what goes into earning a star, but jeans and hip-hop music? The restaurant is worried about someone taking flashless photos? Seems odd to me.

              3 Replies
              1. re: dave_c

                I agree, I really hate the taste of jeans and hip hop.

                  1. re: fame da lupo

                    I agree! Jeans & miso flavored jazz is much better

                1. I have never felt the need to document my experience here on earth by recording it on a camera. I don't even like taking pictures when I want to sell something on eBay. I bought a digital camera a couple of years ago, which I doubt I have used eight times.

                  I am in the minority, of course, among people I know, none of whom feels any compunction about shoving their iWhatever in front of my face so I can look at (almost always bad) pictures of their latest trip, child, acquisition, etc.

                  1. Other than a really high end dining experience, my camera comes with me and is used.

                    I upload the BEST plate pictures I make to the web. Bad pics I trash.

                    Restaurant owners are almost 100% okay with what they see from me on restaurant review sites.

                    Made new friends. Given FREE publicity to a restaurant. Everyone wins.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: RedTop

                      <Everyone wins.>

                      Except for those you piss off at adjoining tables.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        Have yet to encounter that...

                        1. re: RedTop

                          So many people will endure a nuisance because they're afraid to say something. If I were sitting next to you, and your picture-taking annoyed me, believe me, I would let you know.

                          1. re: RedTop

                            Perhaps because others are more polite than you.

                            1. re: Chatsworth

                              It never occurred to you that it MAY be impolite to be arranging and flashing and creating a commotion around your picture taking?

                              I think if I felt a compulsion to document the food I ate I would make great efforts to do it when the fewest patrons would be bothered and would not be needlessly arranging, flashing or acting out other distracting behaviors. I might go just as the doors open.

                              Chatsworth, not everyone is confrontational. Don't mistake polite and kind for loving bad or rude behavior.

                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                I believe Chatsworth was saying that the non-confrontational among us are the polite ones. So polite in fact, that we wouldn't confront our impolite restaurant neighbors, even if their rearranging and photo flashing is incredibly annoying.

                                In other words, RedTop hasn't yet encountered anyone annoyed by his/her photography because most people are too polite for the confrontation. Hence, they are more polite than RedTop.

                                1. re: mpjmph

                                  Right. I hit the wrong one to reply to and just read the name at the end. Thanks for clarifying. I was replying to RedTop.

                                2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                  What if there is no flash? What if I'm quietly sitting at my table and I take a silent photo of my meal. How does that bother you?

                                  1. re: causeimhungry

                                    It wouldn't unless I was dining with you and you always pulled out your camera. Discrete phototaking is not bothersome to other diners. When you are making a big production or flashing, it is distracting and can be obnoxious... just like when someone is talking on the phone at the table. I guess some people do not realize it is impolite.

                          2. re: RedTop

                            Everyone wins? Strange Theory of Mind.

                          3. I think there are too many pictures in the world, by a multiple of about a million. Ansel Adams would shreik from his grave.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Veggo


                              You really believe if AA was alive today sitting in a restaurant his camera would have been left in the car?

                              eta: see below.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                When he decided to take photography seriously, he soon learned that it was impossible to earn a living doing the creative work he enjoyed most. For years, he supported his wife and two children by photographing everything from china and baked goods to women's corsets. "I learned more from the bread-and-butter photography than from any other source," he says. The financial picture has changed, of course. When a print of his "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico" sold for $71,500--the most ever paid for a photograph--Adams cracked, "Don't they know I'm not dead yet?"

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  "For years, he supported his wife and two children by photographing everything from china and baked goods to women's corsets. "I learned more from the bread-and-butter photography than from any other source," he says..."

                                  Puh-leese. Adams wasn't taking photographs of bread and corsets in real world situations while other people were going about their lives. Your brief excerpt doesn't specify whether Adams was photographing these objects for advertising, catalog work, or simply using ordinary objects as props for practice in his home.

                                  The NY Times article and most posters comments are talking about situations of a very different sort. Adams' behavior does not justify or dignify intrusive meal-time restaurant photography.

                                  1. re: Indy 67

                                    I included two sources while replying to Veggo's comment. Did you read Veggo's comment and my entire reply? Adams was taking photos to earn a living. Veggo suggested Adam's would be turning over in his grave over articles like the NYT. I contend based on his bio, AA would not be.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      We'll agree to disagree. I had read both articles -- even re-read them just now -- and I see nothing that supports your claim that Adams would be snapping away in a restaurant.

                                      Here's a quote from the interview to bolster my point of view: "When he began, photography was mostly a hobbyist's novelty; on a climbing expedition, he snapped photos of his companions and the place at which they set up camp for the night. But he soon realized that photographs could be more: They could capture his emotion, a greater vision, rather than simply record a scene. As he learned the craft necessary to accomplish that creative photography, his hobby became a fine art."

                                      o photography does more than record a scene
                                      o learned the craft necessary to accomplish creative photography

                                      Cell-phone photographers/Flash photographers
                                      o recording the contents of a plate
                                      o the equipment these photograhers use speaks for itself

                                      But, the real issue isn't whether or not Adams would be taking pictures of his food. The issue is whether he would be doing so with sensitivity to those around him. Any opinions on that question would just be wild guesses.

                                      1. re: Indy 67

                                        Originally, I was responding to Veggo's comment (as I said) that AAdams would be turning over in his grave...

                                        Apparently my remark struck you the wrong way. Indy, maybe Veggo can share what was meant by that remark then both of us can get some peace. Ha!

                                        I'm currently working as a commerical photographer. Food & lodging is my focus. I work with food stylists and travel correspondents and if you think that I need any clarification on Adams I'm sorry if my flip response left you with that impression.

                                        I appreciate your comments but we really got off OP over something that was nothing more than a flip remark and admittedly my flip reply. But..lol, I still believe if Ansel Adams was alive today he would have brought his camera everywhere he went including a restaurant.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          As for the sensitivity to fellow diners, well as I said elsewhere in this thread..rude is rude no matter where you go...and the debate will continue on long past this thread.

                                          I'll always defer to the restaurant owner policy, comfort level and my own sense of right and wrong. Hardly perfect, I just try my best.

                            2. There was a nice long thread about this recently:

                              I realize that this thread is about the article, but I thought some folks might want to read the other one (since they might not look at the "Not About Food" forum).

                              1. The flashes of iPhones are blinding.

                                At the Presidential Ball, majority of people in audience held up their damn Smartphones. The curmudgeon in me, growing by the day, yelled out, "Just enjoy the moment!"

                                So yeah...I agree that a meal out should be appreciated sans photos. Who even looks back at those photos? seems people meed to chronicle their daily events, as if to garner envy or even attention.


                                8 Replies
                                1. re: globocity

                                  Ever heard of the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words? I rather look at food photos than most online reviews, including those on Chowhound.

                                  1. re: globocity

                                    I have an image of an older person, flipping through their photo album (format of your choice), "and this is the bowl of pho I had with your grandfather right after we got married"

                                    "grandma, what did Grandpa, look like? I've never seen a photo of him -- only the stuff you ate with him"

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Do you think people actually save these photos and put them albums?? More likely they will be paging thru FB and recalling the moment.

                                      I take the occasional shot of my food/cocktail but only when unique or when wanting to make someone jealous. LOL. it usually texted and/or posted and forgotten/deleted.

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        oh, I said "format of your choice" -- some of us still have slides hanging around...who knows how we'll be looking at photos in another 40 years!

                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                        Haha - oh jesus - a million words might be written on the topic, and yet I don't think that they could express so brilliantly the complete vacuity of food photography as the scene that you described. Love it.

                                      3. re: globocity

                                        I laughed. When we were in Paris last summer we popped into the Lourve and I couldn't see the Mona Lisa because of the huge hordes holding up their smart phones and cameras to take pictures of the painting. I could only see poor Mona by looking up at the smart phone being held up by the very tall man in front of me.

                                        I agree with the sentiment. Just look at the painting enjoy the moment! Everyone knows what the Mona Lisa looks like as it's one of the most photographed image in the world so relax and don't let your memory of the picture be from through the camera lens but your own eyes.

                                        Anyway, I don't mind if people discreetly take a quick picture of their meal with their camera as long as they aren't intruding into the space of surrounding diners, and no flash in indoor restaurants, please. I've done it a few times when we were traveling through Asia and eating in outdoor food stalls and food courts, although not in better caliber restaurants.

                                        1. re: Roland Parker

                                          haha, I too didn't understand why people were taking pictures of Mona Lisa. I mean, there must be millions of her pictures everywhere to see. I rememeber getting very annoyed and upset too.

                                          1. re: Monica

                                            I suspect they, like people who photograph their food, want to show " I was here! And ate/saw/heard this!" With the advent of social networking, many people feel the need or temptation to garner attention for even the most mundane events.

                                      4. I've never taken a picture of food, except one special birthday cake - not so much for its looks as for the occasion. But I have no problem with people who do, as long as they don't bother everybody else.

                                        1. Just to clarify, I have close friends, (who I hope are not reading this thread) who dictate the entire course of the meal as each course comes out by insisting that noone sample the dish until they get their photo. If three or 4 dishes arrive at once, particularly in a big dinner at a Chinese restaurant with say 8-10 people, it really detracts from the overall atmosphere of "YUM food let's dig in!" Turns into a photo shoot first and a meal second.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            I would just dig in. It's a meal, not a photo shoot. Most people take lousy food pics anyway. The amount of work and time that goes into making brown food look good is a whole lot more than these dingalings who must process every experience with their cameras are ever going to spend.

                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              gotta agree, unless it's been 'styled' (and at that point not really any good) in photos it just looks like corned beef hash and does no one a favor.

                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                              Jesus. There is no way in hell I'd put up with that. As I said below - do NOT tell me when I can or cannot dig into my plate of food.

                                            3. I don't do it. I just enjoy the food in front of me. I may have done it once or twice a long time ago, but since I don't have a smart phone, I can't post it anywhere. I might take a picture of something at *home*, but not at a restaurant.

                                              And the Houston's editor's father would drive me completely batty. Don't tell me I cannot eat until your picture has been taken!

                                              As for others doing it? If they're not standing on chairs, setting up tripods, etc. and just take a quick no-flash picture, I'm fine with that.

                                              1. I have to say, if I was ever taking a picture of my food, I would probably be tackled by my buddies and smacked for pretentiousness. Now a good dark beer sitting on a polished bar... well, they might be ok with that.

                                                But seriously, this has never been a problem when I've been dining. I don't know anyone who takes pictures of food on a regular basis. It's just weird.

                                                1. I don't do it but don't mind if others do, as long as it's discreet. I do enjoy seeing pictures if the food/drink is unusual. I wonder if there is an age difference between those who hate it and those who don't (in general). The younger generation seems to have grown up being photographed/taking videos/ etc and I'd guess have fewer problems w/ it.

                                                  1. From the article—Bouley is insane. I love him.

                                                    1. I don't think the article takes the stance that diners shouldn't do food photography in restaurants. I think the author is being a little more objective about it, and the lesson for us is that as guests in a shared space it would do us well to try and understand the multiple facets of the issue. It's just not that cut and dry.

                                                      1. I have no problem with other diners taking photos of their plates - as long as I don't know about it. Which means no flash, no standing up, no tripods and no flapping of elbows to get the angle right. Basically - no pictures. LOL

                                                        Personally I think there is something slightly tacky and pretentious about taking pictures of your restaurant dinner. Whatever next - people will be taking pictures of the after effects the next day?

                                                        To me, taking photos of your restaurant dinner and then blogging about it boarders on bragging rather than sharing. I wrote about on my own blog recently.

                                                        1. In my entire life I have taken one picture in a restaurant. Lunch at a new to me Korean place. I was sitting alone and everybody else in the place was dicking around with their phones. Thought my wife would find the photo interesting.

                                                          1. Oh, boy. OP is on target, especially these days.

                                                            We have an old friend who insists on taking lots of pictures in restaurants. Worse, he'll discharge the flash multiple times and even stand up in the aisle and fuss around for a minute before snapping the picture.

                                                            We used to take this nice fellow all over the place, but we've settled on a couple of restarants with serviceable food that aren't crowded when we take this guy to lunch.

                                                            The last straw was when we were in a pretty over-priced but scrumptious UES restaurant and he was asked by the captain to "kindly sit down" after he'd taken 4-5 flash photographs.

                                                            Now, I take pics of food, occasionally. With a high-speed, sensitive camera (no need for flash) that's set on "silent" (no shutter "click" sound-effect). I am also guilty of occasionally asking if a friend will tilt his/her plate toward me for a second and so I can photograph the arrangement -- again without the need for flash nor any other distraction (posing, focusing nor sound-effects).

                                                            If, however, the table is in agreement that they want to record their meal for posterity, again, then certainly plate sharing (and perhaps even a bit of standing-up to facilitate this process) is in order -- but never flash.

                                                            If you want to take food pix like a reviewer -- use a decent camera that you're familiar with, no flash -- and certainly no ipone nor other cell phone device.

                                                            25 Replies
                                                            1. re: shaogo

                                                              No flash, no standing, no commotion, FINE if it's your table. Even though it's not my cup of tea.

                                                              As soon as you are standing up, you have changed the mood of the meal AND you are creating a commotion in the restaurant. Think about it for a second. Think about the other guests.

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                You oughta know -- nowaday's it's all about "I, Me, Mine." Most of these imbeciles care not a whit about the other guests -- or others in general.

                                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                                  Yes, egotism is an invention of the future I mean present. No such thing ever existed in the olden, the golden days.

                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    i totally love when you bring this up.

                                                                  2. re: shaogo

                                                                    That's a funny statement. You say it's all about "I, Me, Mine" but all of the people against the photography say it ruins "their" experience. If someone enjoys the meal they paid for by taking pics of it why is it OK for you to ruin their experience by making a fuss over them taking pics. Is your experience more important than theirs? I'm indifferent to pics or no pics, if that's how someone enjoys their experience, more power to them.

                                                                    Also don't understand how someone standing up in a restaurant creates a commotion in the restaurant. I guess people going to the restroom must irk you too.

                                                                    1. re: Rick

                                                                      This is much the same as the lesson in freshman civics about "your right to swing your arm ends at the end of my nose"

                                                                      When your behavior impinges on others, you no longer have the right to continue your behavior.

                                                                      If swinging your fist results in someone else's bloody nose, you are in the wrong.

                                                                      If your screwing around with your camera, firing off your flash, and standing on the chair interrupts someone else's dinner, you are again in the wrong.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        First of all, who stands on a chair and makes such commotion when taking a pic in a restaurant?! That is a bit extreme and personally I have more sense that to make a spectacle like that.

                                                                        I'll tell you though, if I ever did see someone do that, I'd probably laugh and get a small kick out of it. It certainly would not bother me.

                                                                        1. re: magic

                                                                          i'd most likely take a picture of the person standing on the chair to taking a picture.

                                                                          1. re: ritabwh

                                                                            that would be more amusing.

                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                          I highly doubt that type of behavior is the norm. I think everyone needs clarify just what type of behavior they do or don't care for. I've personally never once seen someone standing on a chair, asking people to move, and firing off their flash and generally treating the meal as a photoshoot. If that is the behavior everyone is against, then I'm on board.

                                                                          If people get all worked up about the table next to them taking a FEW pics with flash, then I think they need to mind their own business and worry about what is happening at their own table. Even more so if they are taking photos without flash.

                                                                        3. re: Rick

                                                                          Agreed. I just don't understand why a few quick pics that are meaningful and likely to be something special to reflect on for one paying guest would even bother another guest.

                                                                          It's not like it's a crying baby, or a little kid running around with a parent permitting it. It is something quick, quiet, personal and non-intrusive. It's not in the same ballpark. Not even the same sport.

                                                                          1. re: magic

                                                                            If you do it in such a manner that nobody notices, then you're doing it right.

                                                                            Far too many photo-happy people are out there standing on chairs, moving furniture, re-arranging the entire table (oh, *crash* oops), and firing off flash -- those are the ones who are being obnoxious, distracting, and rude.

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                              I would never fire a flash as they generally give lousy, ugly pictures. But yes, sometimes I do a small amount of rearranging. Maybe move a plate here, and a glass there. How anyone would take notice of small moves like that is beyond me. That is what I meant by bored. If you take notice of me moving a plate as I fire off a few pics discretely without a flash, then that truly is something that I scratch my head at.

                                                                              And by no means am I a part of a younger "me-first" generation, I can tell you that :)

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                I've gotta ask, what restaurants do you go to that you experience this type of behavior sunshine? It seems that you encounter this behavior often. I'm not being snarky, I'm honestly curious who does this and where.

                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                  The fact that YOU didn't see it doesn't mean that those of us who HAVE seen ignorant, boorish behavior are making it up, nor does it mean we're oversensitive.

                                                                                  It doesn't matter where...it matters that it happened.

                                                                                  There are plenty of us on this thread, and on other "photographing your food' threads who have seen over-the-top behavior from alleged adults.

                                                                            2. re: Rick

                                                                              By your rational, if someone enjoys eating dinner in a fine restaurant and standing up and loudly clucking like a chicken between mouthfuls that should be fine too...

                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                I think you're missing Rick's point: that he agrees with you in that treating a public meal like a photoshoot is distracting. But he has yet to see that type of extreme behaviour. Nor have I quite frankly.

                                                                                The more common situation is a foodie simply trying to squeeze off a few pics discretely - which is clearly not the same as someone clucking like a chicken.

                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                  That's like me saying by your rational no one should get up to go the restroom because it causes a disturbance to other diners.

                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                    I love this standing-up-and-clucking idea - we must do this next time at China King! (I'm serious, it would awesome!)

                                                                                    1. re: Niblet

                                                                                      Hoped noone from the Boston Board would see this thread... srsly the whole photo every bite thing has gotten out of hand ;-)

                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                        Don't worry none of them read Chowhound. Sorry I'm laughing as I type that. You know what's going to happen: next dinner EVERYONE is taking out a camera-phone. Just to piss you off. Plus there's gotta be some clucking chicken time. Do not bring your appetite!

                                                                                        1. re: Niblet

                                                                                          Ahem. Those of us on the thread *and* who post on the Boston board will not just want photos. We'll want video of the clucking. ;-)

                                                                                          1. re: Niblet

                                                                                            Alright I will do the clucking as penitence for my sins. ;-)

                                                                            3. First of all I defer to the restaurant/business owners rules. Some places simply refuse to deal with customers taking pix of any kind. Then I defer to those nearest to me. But frankly the large table of loud talkers is just as irksome as a 1 sec flash.

                                                                              When video cameras resembled a large mailbox plenty of eager beavers thought nothing of standing in front of you to nail their shot and block your view. At least with cameras we're talking small, handheld gadget.

                                                                              Discretion is easy if you bother to care. Rude people are going to be rude no matter what the issue.

                                                                              I always have a camera or two with me. It's not that difficult to be discreet.

                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                How true.

                                                                                Best quote about restaurant customers in general: "Rude people are going to be rude no matter what the issue."

                                                                                And vice-versa.

                                                                                And yes, it's not that difficult to be discreet.

                                                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                                                  I agree, it is not difficult to be discreet, especially with a small, black, smart phone with no flash or clicking sound. No one should notice at other tables unless they are watching me.

                                                                                  I have foodie friends ask me to text them photos if they know I am on a food adventure somewhere. I also will take pictures for plating ideas or to try to remember or "reverse engineer" a dish at home.

                                                                                  I don't assume I know the reason that someone takes food pictures and unless they call attention to themselves by their behavior, I don't object to anything they do with the food they order and pay for. Flash photography and table disruptions around other diners is rude even if their is no food present, IMO.

                                                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                                                    I agree that it's not difficult to be discreet.

                                                                                    It is, however, apparently far too difficult for an enormous percentage of the population.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      I can't actually say I've run into a huge amount of picture takers in restaurant and not a high number that impacted the enjoyment of my table. I guess I'm hanging at the less photogenic places.

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                        all of my adult life, I've lived in places that tourists like to visit. It's hard to find a restaurant in these areas where you DON'T find at least one person who is the next greatest food blogger. I've even had people taking pictures of their meals at my house....I'd never say anything to them, but (eyeroll)

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          You weren't flattered by guests taking pictures of your table of food?

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            a little -- but outweighed by the thought that it was really weird.

                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                sunshine while you thought it was really weird for an invited guest to take photos of your table of food, I was thinking it would be more natural given you know these people and you're not in public to worry about offending anyone else nearby. home gatherings sometimes include photos of some sort, capturing the moment spent together. I mean your home, your comfort level..but I'd be less weirded out by a home gathering than in a public place.

                                                                                                In public it just seems a tad self involved. hey world look at me, i'm taking a picture...yet the picture takers want you to mind your own business while they snap a shot....hey what's the big deal..no one died, ha! such a catch22. i'm confuzzled but whatcha gonna do.

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  I totally agree on all counts, Hill.

                                                                                                  Maria, like all public behaviors, I have no doubt that the public-spectacle louts are giving all of you a bad name.

                                                                                                  If you can fire off a couple of shots that *truly* no one notices, great - you're doing it right.

                                                                                                  But there ARE enough rude, self-centered attention whores out there who ARE making a public spectacle of themselves to make me cringe every time I see a camera or phone whipped out.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Morning, sunshine! Morning all. New day, moving on. Enjoying my latte and scone with raspberry jam.

                                                                                                    I really do appreciate all of you, and your honest perspective.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      totally understand, you and Hillj. look, a year or so ago i was at a local restaurant that i love, which serves shaved tuna heart on its menu. the waiter was good enough to bring out the dessicated tuna heart to show us. i wanted to snap a pic (when do i ever get to see that??) and he said please, no. i of course complied, and was not at all put off. they were polite about it, i complied. if they had been rude, i would have complied, but i may not have gone back again. magic's story of a shop owner being rude to him for daring to attempt a picture of a display case of beautiful gelatos is a case in point. she could just as well have said, please sir, i would prefer if you didn't do that. i'm betting magic would have put his camera away, bought his gelato, paid the woman his money. in the bargain, the woman would not have lost a customer - for rudeness to a customer, not for asking someone not to take a picture in her shop, which she has every right to do. it's all in the way it's done.

                                                                                                      same thing for all those people who are standing on their chairs, using flash photography, making everyone at a table their hostages for however long it takes to get that perfect shot - those people need to learn to do it discreetly or not at all.

                                                                                                      i just didn't like the blanket disdain and assumptions i've read here from many that we were raised by wolves. day before yesterday, i got personally attacked by a CHer. i engaged when i shouldn't have - the whole thing was deleted. fine. but how can someone say they know who i am and what i'm about because i tell you i take pics of my food in a public place?

                                                                                                      and for the record, i live in San Francisco, a very foodie city, and i have to say i have never, not once, seen any of the behavior described and decried here (standing on chairs, using flash, etc.) and i go out to eat a lot. i don't know where this is happening!

                                                                                                      so that's all i'll say on this topic anymore. not telling anyone else what they need to say or feel about it.

                                                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                        do be very careful taking photographs of shop windows and market displays in other cultures.

                                                                                                        They see it as their property until you pay for their merchandise -- and won't hesitate to tell you off.

                                                                                                        This is NOT them being rude to you -- this is you being rude to them in their cultural framework.

                                                                                                        ASK before taking that photo of gelato or a pile of carrots....or even a bakery window.

                                                                                                        It doesn't matter whether you think it's rude or not -- you're in their culture, so their rules apply. If you ask politely, they'll almost always say yes.

                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          oh yes, i know this. someone telling me they don't want me to take their picture, or a picture of their merchandise, is not rude. the way they say it CAN be rude. but if they've said don't do it, no matter how rudely, of course i would not. i've traveled extensively and know how to comport myself.

                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        If anyone does take photos of people photographing their dinner, please email them to me and I will happily post them on my blog. phil at thecriticalcouple dot co dot uk

                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                I eat often in Vegas, Portland, Seattle, and the Northern CA regularly. I never see anyone making a commotion with photos.
                                                                                                I notice if the table next to me is taking pictures, but only because they are next to me. I never see anyone using a flash because they are taking close up shots where a flash wouldn't work. I don't experience people taking pictures of the whole table of food.

                                                                                                I had to laugh recently, I was eating in Vegas a few weeks ago (at Sage, the tasting menu). The plates were a work of art and the tables are fairly close together. It was easy to notice that all of us along the wall were taking photos (without commotion) of several courses. We all noticed each other pulling out the smart phones and snapping a quick pic.... and chuckled. It started a bit of banter between three tables and made for a fun evening. Makes me wonder where the "commotion" picture takers are, maybe not at high end places so much? Maybe more at roadside eateries? I see them at Disney, but I would expect it there.

                                                                                    2. Some of us have poor memories and pics help out with remembering the good times. And they are beautiful to look at, years after the moment has passed.

                                                                                      As long as you use your common sense and don't obnoxiously overdo it I see no harm in taking pics quickly with no flash in public.

                                                                                      If someone was bored enough to have a problem with me snapping a quick few pics and asked me to stop I'd more than likely tell them to go f*&k themselves.

                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: magic

                                                                                        because that, along with ignoring their (assumedly polite) request is such a great way to improve the mood of an evening out.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          As is making someone feel like an a$$hole for snapping a few quick pics.

                                                                                            1. re: magic

                                                                                              If someone just asks you nicely to please stop, then you're *choosing* to feel like an a-hole. They didn't say it. If you feel like an asshole, then there's a chance you KNOW you were being obnoxious and intrusive on others, and you're peeved because they called you on it.

                                                                                              If someone says "put your fucking camera down and eat" -- well, your first response might be appropriate, although both are already detrimental to the evening.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                If someone asked politely of course I would not tell them to go screw themselves. I'm not a lunatic. Of course, I consider that sort of request impolite, no matter how nicely it is posed.

                                                                                                My general point is that I'd let someone know that I was going to take a few reasonable pictures quickly and that perhaps they should return to their own table's evening and not mine.

                                                                                                I think it's prudent to use common sense. If someone is taking a few pictures within a short timeframe there is no earthly reason why anyone sitting in the vicinity should have a problem with that. In 1970? Perhaps? In 2012, I think people should pick more important battles.

                                                                                                1. re: magic

                                                                                                  By the time someone asks someone to refrain from a particular behavior, others have obviously found that behavior impolite...and if they have noticed that behavior, found it unappealing, have lost patience with waiting for you to snap "a few photos", and have finally resorted to requesting you return to your dinner, then it's not "a few" or "quick" or discreet.

                                                                                                  Nobody's talking about two or three quick, discreet photos taken without flash, without staging, and without ***making yourself*** look like an ass.

                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Actually, a lot of people are talking about exactly that.

                                                                                                    A lot of people find that poor behaviour. Perhaps it is a generational thing. While not young, perhaps I'm not of the generation that finds it intolerable and in poor form.

                                                                                                    A few relatively quick, discreet shots should irritate no one – period. And if it does, perhaps some have to re-evaluate what they consider inconsiderate. I'm not sure it's up to a younger generation to change in this circumstance as I don't believe they are doing anything inconsiderate.

                                                                                                    1. re: magic

                                                                                                      2 or three photos is NOT what I am talking about. I am talking about a 12 dish/course meal with 10 people and pausing for 3 minutes as each dish arrives so 4 different people can get their shot. And being scolded for the egregious act of serving yourself some food PRIOR to the precious photo shoots being complete.

                                                                                                      It ain't fun; it gets old fast.

                                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                        Well that I obviously agree with. That is something different entirely.

                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                          These are friends of yours with whom you dine regularly?

                                                                                                          If I found my dining companions to be this 'obnoxious' or bothersome, I'd go venture to find people whose company I'd enjoy more.

                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                            If this is happening at the table next to you, why do you care? If this is happening with your dining companions and you find it so bothersome, why do you dine with them?

                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                  Cause otherwise they are a pretty fun crew.

                                                                                                                2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                  Not cool to monopolize and manhandle the communal platings and to keep others waiting while taking pics. Would've been far more polite and less inflammatory for them to wait til everyone is served and eating before taking pics of what is on their own plate.

                                                                                                                  Rude to make others wait on them, overbearing to scold someone who is requesting some etiquette. Dinner with these people should only involve individual platings.

                                                                                                    2. re: magic

                                                                                                      i agree with this.

                                                                                                      people get so upset about the littlest things. a few quick pics before someone eats their food, with no flash, no standing, no rearranging of tables, how is that a bother to anyone except maybe the person who they eat with? and then it's between them.

                                                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                        Yeah, my girlfriend has a lot of patience I will give her that ;)

                                                                                                        The people sitting next to me... they should just enjoy their meal and conversation and not worry so much about what I'm doing for 10 seconds. Or maybe 10 seconds is too much to ask these days??

                                                                                                    3. To coincide w/ this article, an article about Questlove instagramming his lunch at Jiro: http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/25/391...

                                                                                                      I follow Questlove on Instagram so I read all the descriptions of each pic. Made me hungry all over again. As for being for or against photographing your food, If people have strong feelings either way, they need to get a life.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: GoodGravy

                                                                                                        Clearly you have not sat through an 8, 10, 12 course meal where the arrival of each dish involved a 3 minute wait while three different people arranged the food just so in order to get their photos.

                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                          Dine with friends that don't take pics of their photos. Other people's picture taking doesn't stop me from eating what's in front of me.

                                                                                                          1. re: GoodGravy

                                                                                                            wish I could send you back in time to sit in my seat when the dipshit at the next table actually asked me to get up and move so he could take a picture of the table without me in the background.

                                                                                                      2. You're not crazy.

                                                                                                        When cellphone cameras were a new thing, I used to take lots of pictures of food. Not so much anymore. Not because I thought it was rude (and I have never been one to rearrange things on the table, stand on a chair, etc.), but because the pics are just pedestrian.

                                                                                                        But I don't take as many photos of other things either. I look at many of the pictures I have taken with my phone and they are just blah.

                                                                                                        Now, when my father was with the Army in the South Pacific in World War II, he took some "snapshots" -- piles of skulls, native women, etc. Somehow my pic of a nice plate of tuna carpaccio just doesn't measure up.

                                                                                                        PS way way back in the day, my family used to take home movies at holiday gatherings. The camera would pan over the table loaded with food, but only for a few seconds. It's about the people, not the food, right? The relatives in these movies are almost all dead now, and having a few close-up shots of a turkey or a jello mold wouldn't really bring back the same memories, would it?

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. if you say so....you're crazy

                                                                                                          I take pictures of my dish if it looks really nice or is a tasting menu.
                                                                                                          Far as vacation pics go...the only thing I like more than seeing a place through my eyeballs is looking at it again once I come home.

                                                                                                          1. I just went to make a reservation at Lincoln for this Sunday through Open Table and here's what I was met with. I assume this means "no photos?" I like it!

                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                              Possibly....but not being an Open Table User and knowing the features on other restaurants, I would surmise it means there are no actual photos of the restaurant....exterior, interior or food.

                                                                                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                I'm guessing it means that there's no photo uploaded by the restaurant for use on the Open Table site.

                                                                                                                I like your idea better, though.

                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                  That means an OT member (either owner or patron) has not bothered to upload a photo of the restaurant (like an outdoor front door shot).

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    Oh, silly me! I like my interpretation better! lol

                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      It does, doesn't it? After seeing it recommended so many times on the Manhattan board we are going to try it for brunch this Sunday.

                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        Lincoln in DC? - they SHOULD post a front door shot (the entry floor is a terazzo of pennies - get it?)

                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                          no a photo of Daniel Day-Lewis.

                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                            I think it's near Lincoln Center in NY.

                                                                                                                        2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                          Lincoln sounds like a good place to eat, tt.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                            The "no photos" just means that no photos have been uploaded to that web page.

                                                                                                                            Now if it was "No Children". I'd make a reservation.

                                                                                                                          2. For me it is not just the disturbance of people fidgeting around in their seats to take photos, it is just plain rude.

                                                                                                                            It may be an age thing (I am over 50) but see it as bad behaviour. I was bought up to behave to a certain standard when in public, especially when eating out and "playing" with food was not allowed. What would people think if I picked up my plate and started licking it.

                                                                                                                            Food is there to be eaten and savoured as is the company of other diners. I would be mortified it someone I was sharing a meal with decided to whip out their smartphone and photograph their dinner. It is disrespectful.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                              Like taking out your nail clipper at the table and going to town...

                                                                                                                              1. re: PhilipS

                                                                                                                                i'm over 50, and my certain standard is not everyone's certain standard. nor would i expect it to be.

                                                                                                                              2. Hopefully taking pictures of everything one eats will fade away along with other fads like cupcakes and tasting menus.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                                                                    I don't see what is so awful about people photographing their food. But then I find Hasan Elahi interesting.

                                                                                                                                    Once I was in a Parisian restaurant and a man was taking photo after photo of his companion, an elderly and fairly rumpled looking woman. He took many dozens of photos of her while she ate. I cannot imagine the purpose, but, while we noticed, it was much more amusing than irritating. I have always assumed she was a very dear person to him and he wanted to remember their time together. To me, photographing food is probably something one gets tired of in short order unless there is some deeper purpose.

                                                                                                                                    1. Mostly I've learned I never really go back and look at the photos. What little picture taking I did on occasion, I've now stopped.

                                                                                                                                      I find I'm overloaded with enough good experiences and my memory will fade one day, so I've decided to just go old school and let what really matters to my memory rise to the top on its own.

                                                                                                                                      One can always keep a food diary at home and write a few notes down. Of course not all of us go back and reread our journals either.

                                                                                                                                      1. I haven't read much discussion about how the restaurants themselves are reacting to photos being taken.

                                                                                                                                        Has anyone had the experience of a owner or server asking you to stop taking pictures or had a fellow diner ask staff to ask you to stop? It seems to me the restaurants policy about all this should come first.

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                          I once did at a gelato place, taking a pic of a beautiful case. She lost her sale and I never went back.

                                                                                                                                          Otherwise, nope.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                            magic, if I understand your reply it appears taking a pic of the beautiful case, in her business, was more important to you then ordering the gelato. Can I assume you were there with the intention of buying something? And because she asked you not to photograph her business case you left without ordering anything...never to return.

                                                                                                                                            Would you make the same decision anywhere else? This is interesting.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                              Yes, I was there to buy something. I also happened to have my camera.

                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure what State secrets she was so concerned I would steal in my flip flops, but I didn't care for her attitude towards a customer. And no, she did not ask politely.

                                                                                                                                              It is her business and she was perfectly within her right to tell me to stop photographing her product. And I guess it was my right to say thanks very much and take my business elsewhere never to return - to proprietors friendlier to customers.

                                                                                                                                              Should I have said "Sure thing you big meanie, give me a large rum raisin... let me put some money in your pockets now."?

                                                                                                                                              She was slow too – you’d think she’d relax on her paranoia somewhat considering it was summer and her business was a ghost town. No common sense. But again, her business her decision. My money, my decision.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                I don't think everyone has the same cavalier attitude about this that you seem to. I, for instance, would not really like it if somebody I didn't know what standing on the street taking pictures of my house. Some people feel that that kind of thing is invasive and disrespectful. You might consider that.

                                                                                                                                                Re. taking pictures of food, I think it's an utterly ridiculous prediliction but I've never been bothered by it. I've never even noticed it, really. What *does* bother me about it though is the intention of the photo-taker, which is usually to update their facebook page every time they take a freaking bite of something.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: magic

                                                                                                                                                  i find you not in the least cavalier, magic. just possessed of common sense, and your panties don't appear to be in a bunch.

                                                                                                                                          2. Just wanted to say...there is more than one way to skin cat. My daughter draws -sketchbook and pencil- about her dining experiences after the fact. French Laundry. L'Arpege. Momofuku. I find these much more interesting and insightful than a photo.

                                                                                                                                            1. I have a bad memory. I snap pictures unobtrusively to have restaurant memories. My wife and I look back on past restaurant visits and remember flavors, presentation, service, stories, and our time together. One look at a picture can send taste memories flooding back, and maybe even make you want to return to the restaurant. I don't have a photographic memory, but I do own a camera.

                                                                                                                                              "id rather see Tuscany with my eyeballs rather than through the lens of my camera." - Can't I do both??

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: ThoughtForFood

                                                                                                                                                Of course it is possible to do both, but so many tourists do not. 2000 photos of Tuscany later (12 of Michelangelo's sp? David) they often don't SEE anything.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                  Completely agree. Moderation is the key as is with most things in life.

                                                                                                                                              2. OK. Popping a flash or standing on chairs or other grotesque behavior should get you tossed out of any joint immediately.

                                                                                                                                                But it's fun to shoot your food, when it's anything really remarkable, so you can put it on the interwebs for your friends to see. There's nothing inherently rude about it when it's done in a tasteful way that doesn't disturb other diners.

                                                                                                                                                I suppose there's no tasteful way to do it in a four-star temple of haute cuisine, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've dined in one of those.

                                                                                                                                                1. A quick and attemptedly discreet pic doesn't bother me one bit. It bothers me when it comes to the flash of cameras, when one turns it into a photo shoot and makes a scene, or when someone makes rules with "don't touch the food yet!" Never tell a hangry person not to touch their own food, especially when they're armed with a fork.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I walked past my favorite chocolatier today, and there, hanging in the window, was a sign saying "Please, No Photos, No Cameras." I wanted to go in and buy a boatload of chocolate and give them a great big kiss, but they were closed.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I empathize with the pros and cons arguments from both camps.

                                                                                                                                                      However, I just wanted to say that, when I was working in Paris for two years quite a while back. Those were the days when my dining adventure took me to Alain Passard of Arpege before and after his receiving his Michelin three stars. It was also when Guy Savoy just got promoted from 2* to 3* status. La Tour D'Argent was still a 3*. And finally, it was also when Joel Robuchon decided to close his jewel Jamin in Paris and retire. Unfortunately, SLR cameras those days still used films and were super bulky to bring to restaurants. How I wish I could have a compact digital camera then, whence I could capture some photos of the food and experience in those establishments that was part of history and my culinary experience!!.
                                                                                                                                                      One cannot rely on memory alone!!

                                                                                                                                                      1. I enjoy taking pics of my food experiences. I wish we had this technology while growing up. I would have had more auditory and visual recordings of the people and places that I've belatedly discovered were important to me. My memory is poor. Each year more details fade until all that is left is a vague outline.

                                                                                                                                                        I take pics of dishes I want to remember for any number of reasons. If I'm with a group and it's disruptive, I won't. I do not use a flash, I do not get up from my chair, I do not interupt others in any way, I do not involve staff. I do not include staff or other customers in the photos, or if impossible to exclude (resto frontage shot), I'll not post without blurring out faces. I apologize now for those times where I did not meet my aspirations.

                                                                                                                                                        I like seeing other peoples' pics with concise impressions of their experience. The pics help me see what they're talking about, although poorly done photos are worse than none at all. I'd rather see a well done amateur pic than a staged professional pic since when following a recommendation, I'll know more what to expect.

                                                                                                                                                        More and more places may not allow photo taking. That's all fine and well - appropriate in alot of instances. Although I personally don't feel it's as disruptive as messaging, texting, cell phone buzzing, smoking, overly loud talking, overly heavy perfume, table sex, others may beg to differ. The best meal I've ever had has a no pic policy. The chef is an artist (Kaiseki) and posts pics of each meal on his website. I would go back in a heartbeat anytime.

                                                                                                                                                        Now, if only pics had odours with it....

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. Interesting how this thread has gone off at a tangent.

                                                                                                                                                          I wrote about "when does sharing become bragging" on my blog recently. We have a few bloggers in the UK who visit high end establishments and then blog - usually lots of photos and a few words. Now they also do the whole PR stuff - Twitter and will court chefs to get a free dinner.

                                                                                                                                                          There is a very fine line between sharing and bragging.


                                                                                                                                                          1. If it's a quick, discrete, no-flash photo, not a problem. Enjoy! The problem is that it's often less than discrete and it's usually the final straw that croaked the poor Bactrian. Partial blame falls on restaurants that cram tables too close together. But here's a scenario I've run into:

                                                                                                                                                            Husband and I are seated next to a pair of proto-typical hipster/foodie wannabes. There follows 15 minutes or more of listening to their cell phones going off, followed by, "Hey....not much. We're at *****, what're *you* doing?...blah...blah...blah" all of which is carried on at normal conversational tone, somewhat loud for a shared circumstance.

                                                                                                                                                            Table conversation, at the same loudish volume, consists of where they've eaten before, what reviews they've read and raised voices about the role of garniture (no, I'm not kidding). Misuse/mispronunciation of "pistou", "roulade" and other furrin (sic) words liberally sprinkled throughout as they vie for position of alpha-foodie.

                                                                                                                                                            Their food arrives. They verbally dissect it, compare it to every other meal they've ever eaten anywhere. Rearrange the table to get photos while, again, in loudish voices, stage-manage the arrangement, the angle, whether or not the wine glass should be in frame or not, etc. Then comes the comparison of the photos--never mind that the item they photographed is still right there in front of them. Angle's wrong--take more pics. Compare. Contrast. Finally they take a bite and promptly complain that the food isn't up to temp. That a crispy element has become soggy, also etc. How disappointing! Front of house, back of house, somewhere quality if falling off. Well, yeah, food does tend to do that while it sits.

                                                                                                                                                            What I'm trying to say, in my oh-so-long-winded way, is that sometimes it's not so much the photo-taking itself, but everything else that leads up to it.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Canonical

                                                                                                                                                              Now that's just plain exhausting! And, if you actually heard that much detail from the table next to you also too close for comfort. If I can eavesdrop without wanting to (& really who wants to!) I'm not going to be a customer there for long...with or without all the photo taking.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Canonical

                                                                                                                                                                The sad part is that our mirrored experiences were not in the same restaurant, and sometimes not even on the same continent.

                                                                                                                                                                THESE are the pretentious, self-centered attention whores of which I speak.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Folks, while the final word may not have been said on this subject, this particular thread has devolved into incivility. We're locking it now.