No foodstagramming for you today, say chefs

Guys, some proprietors of some high-end restaurants do not want you taking smartphone snapshots of your food and sharing them on social media sites and the New York Times is on it.


    1. Totally. I have been a pretty fervent concertgoer for the last 10 years and have noticed the proliferation of videos and pictures at concerts. I guess I don’t mind the pics as much but someone recording video for 3 minutes in front of you can be really annoying. I always wonder what the point is because it really seems like it takes away from living in the moment and enjoying the show but maybe I am off here. The really odd thing is when people record shows that are being recorded 10 feet away from them with av tech that costs millions of dollars and has the clear vantage point…

      1.  I love to play drunk* and bump into those people, WOO! really loudly, and when it comes down to it grab on to them in a way too friendly manner. I don’t really have a reason to do it other than I’m an ass sometimes.

        *often enhanced by the real thing

    2.  From a performer’s standpoint it’s equally bad. Most of the stage lights are far enough from your line of sight so that they don’t blind you. This allows you to make eye contact with your audience, be an engaging performer, and get more personal with your fans (or friends who came to see you play at a little club). Then a flash goes off and you can’t see which pedal is which.

  1. hahaha, really?

    Let them try. I’ll post a review as scathing as possible on every review site for any restaurant that tries to stop me. I may not be a prominent food critic but I could easily inform about 10 thousand people I know personally in a matter of minutes, and I don’t mean via twitter. I’m not unique. Every person is capable of that.

    In comparison, any food that is good that I take a photo of will rightfully so include praise for the good and/or artistic food that it is, on any review I create of the restaurant.

    Chefs can play that game as long as they want, but even if they sue me I’ll just share my store to every site I can to make them back down. This is not a game any restaurant will win. It’s 2013, and it doesn’t work the way the restaurants want. Let’s hope they learn faster than the MPAA/RIAA has learning what happens when you go anti-consumer.

    Which begs the question: Why can’t restaurants just try to be good restaurants? Like the example in the article, which, although rare – is just as rare as people being asked to simply not take a photo.

      1. Nah, I just like to eat and remember what I had, and take a: nice photos and b: have good restaurant experiences about 98% of the time. I have literally only had maybe 10 bad experiences out of easily 500+ restaurants.

    1.  According to the article, they are not being anti-consumer, they’re being pro all the other consumers in the place annoyed by the entitled jerks insisting on standing on their chairs to take flash photos of every dish, not even letting family members start their meal till it has been documented, and stuff like that.

    2. Did you even read the linked article? (That’s rhetorical, you obviously didn’t.) The chefs are trying to protect other diners from jackasses who are disruptive with their photo-taking (standing on chairs, using flashes, dragging out SLRs on tripods, etc).  It has nothing to do with intellectual property.  Part of being a “really good restaurant” is ambiance, and these people are wrecking it.  Maybe, next time, the time you spend composing your self-righteous response would be better spent reading.

      1. your comment is deceptive; the article does not make such comparisons at all.

        Maybe next time you shouldn’t make false claims.

        1. Direct quote from the article:
          When it comes to people taking photographs of their meals, the chef David Bouley has seen it all. There are the foreign tourists who, despite their big cameras, tend to be very discreet. There are those who use a flash and annoy everyone around them. There are those who come equipped with gorillapods — those small, flexible tripods to use on their tables. There are even those who stand on their chairs to shoot their plates from above.

          Mr. Bouley said table photography “totally disrupts the ambience.”

          How is anything Matt G said false?

          1. his implication was that everything is that way. That was an anecdotal paragraph from the editor, backed by absolutely nothing. Instead he accuses me of not reading the article, which talks about ways which restaurants are embracing people who take photographs.

            Does that sound like the issue is somehow people who are abusive and taking photographs? My point was that I will not be harassed by a restaurant for daring to take pictures, a situation which I have experienced before. It doesn’t mean Mr. Bouley’s quotes are anything other than anecdotal.

          2. I think a restaurant is private property, and if they don’t like your behavior, or feel it’s disruptive to the experience they’re trying to provide other diners, they’re totally within their rights to tell you to GTFO.

            The world doesn’t revolve around you and your cataloguing of every meal you eat.  

      1. I considered starting a Tumblr blog with a daily photo of my clot-encrusted handkerchief.

  2. A very old and dear friend constantly updates his FB with food pictures. It’s OK if I’m not at the restaurant with him. But what annoys me is the shots of what he made himself at home for dinner, as he cannot cook and combines the godawfulest  things, then puts chopped apples and sriracha on everything. Then cue our dumbass foodie wannabees friends who fawn over the vomitous mass he’s heaved up. It looks more like the bottom of my compost bin than food.

  3. I can understand not wanting flash photography, because that annoys everybody, but nobody should ban you from taking a picture of the food if you don’t make a big production out of it.

    It occurs to me though… how much do we really NEED flashes anymore?  I mean, obviously, if it’s especially dark, but in my, admittedly fairly limited, experience with digital cameras, I see pictures that look absolutely fine on the viewfinder, where there’s obviously no flash being used.  Shouldn’t the camera be able to take that pic and be awesome with no flash required?  And yet, the ones I took without flash inevitably look way too dark (and sometimes blurry) when they actually become pictures.  Can’t they do some fancy image processing to just show us what you’d see anyway?

    Maybe I just suck at taking pictures.

    1. Cellphone “flashes” are almost always horrible anyway, since they’re just a single LED usually mounted way too close to the lens.  So turning on the flash gets you a washed out and blue tinged image instead of one that’s a little dark.  Unless it is absolutely totally dark out, the flash is almost always the wrong answer anyway, at least until phone manufacturers start putting it on the opposite end of the phone so it doesn’t glare so badly and destroy all sense of depth. 

      Image sensors are getting a lot better about handling low light shots too. 

      1. Cellphones are crap at low light photography (something to do with the sensor and how it uses collecting gates rather than a shutter) and often have a micro-blur around the edge of things.

    2. I think you’re talking about digital viewfinders. Those viewfinders are at a much lower resolution than the camera, also the image is processed before being put in the viewfinder. Since the image in the viewfinder is lower resolution it’s a bit easier to lower the noise but at the same time would look terrible if you blew the image up. You can change the settings on most cameras though to enhance a no flash image a bit so it looks a bit brighter. There’s options on most phones/digital cameras nowadays.

      1. Yeah, I’m not much of a photo person (and don’t at present even have a phone), so my last experience was with a borrowed digital camera for a convention.  Had to turn the flash off to comply with con guidelines, and suddenly all the picture quality turned to crap.  But I probably just didn’t do the right settings for it.

    3. Step one: learn the highest ISO setting the camera you’re using will allow you to use without creating a mess of noise.
      Step two: Use these ISO settings in low light.

      There are many more steps if you want to get technical, but they’re my basic tips to anyone using a standard P&S that doesn’t want to learn about aperture and shutter speeds.

  4. If you click through, it sounds like Instagram isn’t the problem.  People acting like morons is the problem.

    1. Yeah. My wife and I don’t get out much anymore since the babysitting is expensive. This food-photographing fad seems to have become widespread only after we stopped regularly eating out. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t care if someone wants to snap an occasional picture of their meal. I photographed a particularly yummy dessert I enjoyed on a trip to London fourteen years ago, so I understand the (occasional) urge.

      But much of the behavior described in TFA is pretty obnoxious. If things have gotten to the point where the maitre d’ feels compelled to invite you into the kitchen so you can photograph your meal without bugging anyone, then something has indeed gotten out of hand.

      Even Valery Rizzo, who teaches a class in iPhone food photography, thinks the trend has crossed a line.

      A class in iPhone food photography? Yeah, things have gotten out of hand.

  5. “some proprietors of some high-end restaurants do not want you taking smartphone snapshots of your food and sharing them on social media sites”

    oh boo hoo, I don’t like people taking pictures of themselves in the mirror, but you don’t see me whining about it. 

    1. what’s you’re quoting was kind of hyperbole if you read the article.
      mainly, they don’t want people acting like dicks.  which is what american often are wont to do..

  6. I get the no-flash thing since that’s legit annoying but honestly, if your picture taking is annoying to your dining companions its up to them to tell you to cut it out and if you’re being obnoxious to the point of disturbing other customers then its up to the restaurant to ask you to stop. The total ban thing? That’s chefs being dramadivas thinking they’re special snowflakes who can control everything.

  7. There’s a need for a new etiquette. Mobile devices are basically toys at the table, we need recognize they cause a disturbance but at the same time we have to recognize what they enable. Food blogging is not a big sin on my list, but bright lights in dark areas and flashes are annoying. I guess the first step is to recognize when you are affecting others, that’s where etiquette really starts.

  8. They don’t call it disruptive technology for nuthin’. Welcome to the future everyone, no hovercars, but you never need to wonder what anyone you know is having for dinner. Or any other minute detail about what they are doing right now. It’s the digital equivalent of picking fleas off eachother.

  9. Having spent a good part of my career running Michelin star kitchens, I’m torn. Flash photography is obviously a distraction, but I’d never want to deny guests the ability to remember their experience, even if that means they have phones out during the entire meal. These pictures are seldom great though, so what if you emailed everyone a file containing all the jpegs of the menu they ordered. This would be pretty easy in tasting menu only places but could be a disaster in a la carte joints. Also, I’m thrilled when well known food bloggers are shooting away at my dishes, taking high quality photos that are going to go on an oft-frequented flickr. I can’t think of a chef that wouldn’t want that.

    1. I can remember certain meals I had 20 years ago, and I don’t even have photos to prove it.  In fact I can remember them so clearly I can sometimes fake a pretty good imitation of the sauces and seasonings.

  10. Social media was more or less invented for this concept of saying “this is what I did with my money one night” same as your pictures of you going to a ski resort and showing me your feet propped up by a fire saying “the best ride is the one on the couch after a long day at the slopes, LOL”.    We want to share our lives.   Presumably people who are following said lives are at least marginally interested in the things that we choose to fill our lives with, and for some that is wasting an awful lot of money at expensive restaurants with interesting presentations, or just plain showing off the amazing but greasy slice at the corner pizza joint.    That’s life.  Life is now online and pictures are a major component. 

    Even further, I don’t go to restaurants that I can’t find a lot of good pictures of the food on Yelp.   Professional shots do not count, they had time to practice and make the best looking dish that you know isn’t what shows up on the table.  I want to see a 10PM on a Tuesday dish, taken by someone’s iphone and if THAT looks good, I’m going to check the place out.   A restaurant with no pictures probably isn’t serving food that anyone wants to remember. 

  11. As a chef and someone who takes pictures of my own food, I often throw out twenty of my pics just to get the one that I think accurately depicts what I’ve tried to put together on the plate.  And as that same vain, perfectionist, primping, plate-wiping-til-it-hits-the-window chef I may say out loud that I don’t want the other diners to be inconvenienced, but really I just don’t want someone taking a shitty picture and then saying its my food because your pinterest/instagram/hipster-filter can’t possibly accurately represent my vision

  12. I don’t have a problem with the occasional flash as it’s not easy taking photos in low-light conditions.  Bringing a tripod or standing on chairs is excessive though.  It also depends on the vibe of the establishment – I’d expect a funky groovy place would be fine with photography where a formal silver-service place might not. A place that caters for groups of diners would probably be more o.k. about it than one catering for romantic couples.

    Disclaimer: I take the occasional food photo myself & do not begrudge others the opportunity.  Personally, I’d have more of a problem with loud & boisterous fellow diners, or ones with so much aftershave or perfume lathered on that I have trouble smelling/tasting my food.

    1. And yet, you can’t drop your drawers and take a dump in the toilet that you just bought at Home Depot.

    2. Sure.  Take it home and photograph it until it decomposes and blows away.  Might make a fascinating timelapse movie.  Add a Philip Glass score while you’re at it.  But while you’re in a privately-owned restaurant, behave as the owner demands.  If you find those demands unreasonable, don’t patronize the joint.  This isn’t too terribly far removed from “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service.”

      Vanishingly few restaurateurs will object to your snapping pictures of your food, as long as you do so in a manner that doesn’t irritate the hell out of the other patrons.

  13. Just when I thought chefs couldn’t be more obnoxious and pompous. It’s actually a compliment when someone thinks your food looks good enough to capture it. It means you’ve done a good job. Also that person paid for that food, and gets to do what they want with it. They should be able to wear it as a hat, if they want to.

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