Young and Hungry

Is Amateur Flash Photography Ruining Your Dining Experience?

Photo-phobic Rogue 24 chef R.J. Cooper is going to love this: Today's New York Times complaint box rails against all the amateur food photography taking place in restaurants these days. Michael Antonoff, identified as a creative content writer at Manhattan camera shop BH Photo, opines:

Anyone who eats out is now a potential food critic who can’t talk about food without showing it. Images are often blurry (a bit of frosting gone astray, perhaps?) or overexposed. And when will diners learn to turn off the flash? Not only would it improve the photo, it would make taking it a less intrusive experience for the other guests — you know, the ones trying to enjoy their meals.

The issue of amateur shutterbugs impacting the dining scene has been the subject of much fuss of late. Chef Cooper, for one, generated a ton of publicity last month with his rule that guests refrain from taking photos of the food at Rogue 24. His reason: The photos often suck.

Y&H wants to know: Do you care if the table next to you is snapping portraits of their meals? Or, do you think that diners are entitled to visually document the various foodstuffs they have paid for?

Amateurish photo of olives by Chris Shott

  • Alex

    I think it's low class to take pictures of your food and then immediately post them to Facebook. Not that I'm high class or anything, but come on! You're there to enjoy the food, the atmosphere and the presence of the company you are with. It's just rude to pull out your phone and take a picture of the food. And your Facebook friends don't give a shit about an iPhone picture of a steak either.

  • Caroline

    Unless you're dining outside on an overcast day, the ambient lighting is going to be terrible. Even if you have good lighting, you have to know how to compose the shot so the food looks appetizing. This part is harder than you'd think! I have a lot of experience taking food photos at home, and I still have to approach the shot from all sorts of angles before finding one that works. At a restaurant you have no control over the plating, and you don't have many options for the background and props. Furthermore, you lose a bit of the dining experience every time you place yourself behind the screen of a phone or the viewfinder of a lens. I can absolutely understand why restaurant owners would prefer their patrons suppress the urge to take pictures.

  • Drez

    Most people suck at taking photos. But so what?
    IMO the restauranteur can only really object if they receive complaints from other diners, or if the photographer replaces or otherwise stages the photo in a way different than from the actual presentation the restaurant offers.

  • Drez

    "replates", not "replaces".

  • Jill

    Snap away but keep the flash off. Actually asked a waiter to ask a fellow diner to stop taking photos with the flash a couple of months ago - this person took 5-10 photos of every dish (at a restaurant with small plates - and of course they have to take multiples because none of them are going to look good with the flash on), and they were directly facing me. At the next table. Couldn't see the person I was eating with for the entire night, and the incessant flashing was ridiculous. After I asked if they could take photos without flash, I got more flashes AND death stares. UGH. Thought I was going to have a seizure.

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  • Papa Smurf

    Of course, if you have the Foodspotting app on your phone, you have no choice other than to take a picture, since that is what the application is all about. I would think restaurant owners would be happy to have diners sharing the fact that the "veggie falafel combo" can be found at Restaurant YouNameIt.

    But flash should be off; even an iPhone can do that.