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Your opinion? Is photography in restaurants really annoying you?

According to a report on Mashable some New York City restaurants are banning their customers from taking food photos.

They say taking photos of your meal is annoying to other customers, distracting to the chef and just plain silly.

I say, with a few self-imposed rules -

1. always ask permission
2. never use a flash
3. try to be discreet

food photography is a harmless hobby, a bonding experience with other food lovers and a great way to see what your meal could look like.

It's also a source of instant free publicity for restaurants, a rare and valuable commodity these days.

Permission to take photos has only been declined to me once, at Max Brenner in Sydney many years ago.

Have you ever been asked not to take photos?  Do you find it annoying when others take photos of their food?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. I've been denied taking photos at Esquire. This was within a month of their opening though and I'm not sure if they are stead-fast on this rule anymore.

    I usually take photos of my meals to share with like-minded friends. I agree with no flash and trying to be discreet so as to not annoy others. And don't take heaps of pictures. One is suffice.

  2. You are very restrained only taking one photo. I have to take many more than that.

    Esquire may have changed their stance as I have taken photos there, although it was at a media event to launch a new menu.

  3. Taking photos is far less intrusive than taking mobile calls and shouting into the phone. But I do agree that restaurants and chefs have some rights of exclusivity over what they provide to their customers. There seems to be a disastrous fall-off in good manners, which is the main problem. A good rule is don't get in anyone's face. These days, that's far too often forgotten.

    1. A good point- what happened to good manners?

  4. I sit on both sides of the fence on this one - I am a photographer and food lover at heart, and I am also a business owner in the hospitality industry. My suggestion to all is to ask permission first. Think of it this way - would you like someone taking a photo of your baby without asking you permission? Well business owners and chefs see their businesses and food like that - their babies. So I just think out of common decency and respect, just ask! And I bet that more people will be open to you taking photos once you do that!!

  5. I need more than one photo too and usually more than one visit! So the second visit usually entails an interview, often late morning before lunch starts - a great time to take photos with permission. I try not to get other customers in photos so take photos out of peak times.

  6. I think many chefs and restaurant owners are not as social media savy as they could be. They are still a little scared of it which is why they hesitate over photos

  7. I love to see my foodie friends posting their meals on facebook. It is one of the ways I find new restaurants through my friends going there first and giving it a thumbs up.

    I don't eat out a lot because I am a student but when I do I usually take photos of my friends and the food is not centre stage on my photos. That is why I think the argument about flashes disturbing other patrons doesn't add up for me. I would never think to ask permission to take photos of my friends eating out and if I was asked not to, then I would be left with a bad taste in my mouth. It would be the same for food photos, if I was asked not to take photos of the food I would feel like they are being a bit unpleasant. I have never heard of people being asked not to take photos of their friends at a restaurant, it would seem quite extraordinary.

    If it was a restaurant with low lighting and a quiet atmosphere I would probably be embarrassed to pull a camera out anyway. But if the atmosphere is busy and alive then who would be offended by the flash??

    I say this is a bit of bah humbug.

  8. Fair comparison between taking mobile phone calls and photos, but the calls, unfortunately can last a lot longer.

    Also note your point Therese, about flash photography. I've had wait staff offer to take photos of a group of friends on many occasions and no one seems to get bent outa shape about that.

    Methings this is just NYC soup nazis out of control.

    Polite behaviour and good manners will win the day. :)

  9. I see both sides. If you're taking a photo isn't it because you're going to post (wherever) about the restaurant? That's a good thing, On the other hand, bad photos of good food don't do the restaurant any favours.

  10. Gillian, while no one can take a photo like a professional, - clever cameras and post processing helps most make a decent job of even the most mundane shots now days.

  11. I annoy myself by doing it! So try not to. I whip out my iPhone if i must. There are already too many food photographs in the world! However, about to participate in a food photography workshop ... so not sure where i'll stand after that. Probably very annoyed at myself!

  12. Anonymous4:27 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks this is just plain silly? It's a meal, not a child. If an establishment feels anything less than pride about the appearance of their food then perhaps they need to reconsider how they plate up.

    What's next? Will we have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before we can see a menu?

  13. Agreed. Why all the fuss? If a restaurant is not happy to have a meal photographed, why are they serving it to a customer?

    The old 'bad photography' comment just doesn't float with me. Photos today usually make the food look even better.


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