Take a picture. It’ll last longer — way longer than the restaurant meal you ordered. Still, just because you want to take a picture of your plate doesn’t mean you should. More eateries are asking patrons not to snap away as each course arrives, in consideration of fellow guests.
The New York Times reported this week on chefs who have discouraged or downright outlawed photo snapping at their restaurants, thwarting the legions of foodies addicted to documenting their every meal and sharing via e-mail, Instagram, blog or Pinterest.
“It’s reached epic proportions,” said Steven Hall, a restaurant spokesman who has worked in the business for 16 years. “Everybody wants to get their shot. They don’t care how it affects people around them.”
Chefs vary in how strictly they enforce photo prohibition, with white-tablecloth eateries including Per Se, Le Bernardin and The Fat Duck discouraging flash photos — to little avail — and others, such as David Chang’s Momofuku, enforcing a strict ban on photography without fear of embarrassing guests who break the rule, according to the Times.
If you must share pictures of what you’re eating, Tina Nguyen offers tips on The Braiser for doing so without ruining other people’s meals, starting with asking the chef to send you professionally shot snaps — an increasingly common practice for chef David Bouley and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare owner Moe Issa. For those who must take a picture, turn off the flash, Nguyen advises.
In The Week, New York Times food photographer Andrew Scrivani shares advice on getting great photos without annoying everyone else in the room. Don’t make a production of taking the picture, he advises. Snap discreetly and selectively; don’t stand on the furniture; and don’t use flash.
In addition to concerns about disrupting other diners and ruining the ambiance, eateries might also be worried that less-than-professional pictures of their food could paint a less-than-mouthwatering picture of the fare, potentially discouraging would-be patrons from booking a table.
But there’s a flip side. Pinterest’s food section is full of lush, colorful pictures, some professionally done and some the amateur work of foodies. Food photos done right can be the best word-of-mouth marketing for a restaurant. Scrivani’s tips for taking better food shots include using the right applications and software, shooting from above to get interesting overhead snaps and following expert photographers on Instagram to pick up tips for doing it better.
Do you let patrons take pictures? Has it helped spread the word about your restaurant? Tell us in the comments.