Restaurants Starting to Ban Food Photography

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Restaurants have begun prohibiting their customers from taking pictures of their food, the New York Times reports, citing several renowned chefs.

restaurants ban food photography

Photo captured by alaamohammed (click image to see more from alaamohammed)

Taking pictures of food is nothing new, but the growing number of diners who come to restaurants armed with cameras of all sorts has triggered photo bans all over the country. Just look up #foodporn on Instagram and you’ve got yourself a whopping 11,000,000+ photos to sift through. Some restaurants are more lenient than others by only restricting flash photography, but there are some that have banned food photography altogether, even if it means free advertising.

A few chefs and restaurant owners found a way to cope with today’s trend by inviting foodstagrammers back to their kitchens so that they can get a better shot.

“We’ll say, ‘That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen. It’s like, here’s the sauce, here’s the plate. Snap it. We make it like an adventure for them instead of telling them no,” David Bouley told the NY Times.

Others are not as forgiving of iPhone food photography. After all, it’s not unusual to see someone standing on their chair just to gain a better perspective of their plate, or disgruntled dining companions waiting for their photographer friend to finish documenting their dishes.

“Some people are arrogant about it. They don’t understand why. But we explain that it’s one big table and we want the people around you to enjoy their meal. They pay a lot of money for this meal. It became even a distraction for the chef,” said Moe Issa of Chef’s Table.

On the other hand, Chefs like Marc Wilkinson of Michelin starred restaurant, Fraiche told the BBC:

“I don’t see any problem with it at all… I think if people are discreet and it’s subtly done, it doesn’t encroach on fellow diners then I have no issue at all. “

I’m guilty of keeping a food diary and posting the occasional foodstagram, but I’ve never disrupted another diner’s experience with my photography. I’d much rather take a bad photo from where I’m seated than take a good one from on top of my chair. What about you? To what lengths do you go for food photography?

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8 Comments

  1. Devour Catering says:

    I can’t see why this is a problem unless it’s an all the time sort of thing. I’ve never been to a restaurant where it’s been a problem.

  2. BigD says:

    If I pay for my food I can do whatever the hell I want with it. I can take photos of it, I can spit on it, I can dump ketchup all over my damn filet mignon if I want. It’s MINE. It doesn’t belong to the restaurant.

    Who the hell is the chef to tell me what I can do with my food? Once it leaves his kitchen and hits my table he has lost his control over MY food.

    If I’m not making a nuisance or bothering people I don’t personally know then screw them.

    What’s next, the car dealer teling me I can’t take photos of my new Corvette? My barber telling me I can’t take a photo of my new haircut?

    Since when did the SERVICE industry become my boss?

  3. Jenny says:

    I occasionally take photos of my food with my dslr, but ya I stay seated. I do not get up and disturb people just to get the photo nor do I use a flash.

  4. FellowPhotographer says:

    This is a tricky topic because I agree that photography for your own use should be okay if it is only for your personal enjoyment. I am a professional photographer and fine artist and I take pride in my work.

    But when it comes to feeling entitled to doing whatever you want because you paid I think this is wrong. That would be no different then going into an art museum and photographing the art and then using it for your own devices because you paid admission. Any restaurant or chef should be able to reserve the right prohibit people photographing their food because quite honestly it is their art and their trade. Some restaurants actually hire photographers to photograph their establishment, so when people use a camera phone (which is not a camera) and then use it on blogs, or advertising or anything without permission is not okay.

    BigD, as for your comment about the food service industry, that is offensive and shows that you are a bigot. If you are on their property dining on the food that the prepared which can be considered their art you need to respect their wishes. (yes I work in the service industry, which it is obvious you have not so you wouldn’t understand)

  5. Maiella says:

    Well… unless people don’t know about food photography, you don’t even need to be standing to take a picture of the food… 45 degree angle (or lower depending on the food) will make a great picture of the plate…

  6. Jonsey12 says:

    Taking photographs while seated, with a quiet camera, is ok. Standing up with your giant DSLR and lens pointing down (whether you’re standing on the floor or on a chair) is not ok. Flash photography is not ok. It’s just plain rude and uncouth. You may have paid for your food, but you did not pay for exclusive use of the entire restaurant floor. Get over youselves. If you want to photograph the food that you paid for, abide by the restaurant’s rules, or take it to go and click away at home.

  7. Blink Blanc says:

    If you are seated and taking photos without flash is acceptable. I understand that people appreciate something beautifull as a good plated food and they want to share their experience.

    On the other hand it is a bit rude to your companions on the table. It feels like you are ignoring them. Plus phones have been everywhere and they are so unhygenic. They should be banned from the dinner tables.

    DSLRs are not acceptable. You are in a restaurant to eat and enjoy your food. Food photography should remail in your kitchen or your studio.

  8. LRH says:

    If someone taking a photo of their exploits bothers you that much, you need to see a therapist.

    I photograph my eating-out exploits, I have for YEARS, long before Instagram made it fashionable. I’m simply snapshooting memories of my life. If such bothers you, you’re too freaking sensitive.

    LRH

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