Discussion time: Photos in restaurants

Hi friends 😀 Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend??

We have a couple of things going on –a dance show tomorrow that I’m super excited about- and hope to lay low for most of the weekend. I’ve been wanting to hit up the farmer’s market, too 🙂

So even though most of my meals have been on-the-fly (or pickles and chocolate) and we haven’t been out to eat much lately, *this article* definitely got me thinking. After my friend Diana posted it on her Facebook, I thought it would be fun to see what you think abut it.


-This article is about the ban of photography in a New York restaurant, mostly because it’s distracting to other diners and because it ruins to element of surprise for future guests

Many restaurants have banned flashes and/or photography in general

-Tips for photos in restaurants: sitting near a window for good lighting, not taking flash photos, calling in advance to let the restaurant know you’ll be taking photos (if they’re allowed), and being courteous of other guests

There have definitely been times where I’ve felt *weird* taking pictures at restaurants. Not only because I have a beast of a camera –it’s hard to be inconspicuous with the Canon T1- but also because sometimes we’ll go out to eat in dark restaurants where you actually do need to use the flash.

Without flash:

wontons (2)




(much better)

People at Bamboo Club definitely looked over when I busted out the paprazzi-style flash. The last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to our table or be inconsiderate of others.

Sometimes when we go out to eat, I realize quickly that there’s no way I can take photos. The restaurant will be too dark, too fancy, and we’ll be seated too close to other diners. I’ll almost always take pictures at restaurants where we can dine outside, because it seems to be far less rude.


So what do you think about the photography in restaurants debate?

Is it rude to take pics of your food?

If you don’t have a blog, would it be weird if you were dining with a friend and he/she snapped photos with their giant camera, or no big deal?

If you work in a restaurant, what do you think about it??

It’s yoga time over here 😀

Have a great day and I’ll see ya soon with a Fashion post <3



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  1. Jessica @ brighteyesandbushytales on June 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Most of the time, I forget to take pictures because I am either so hungry by the time I get my food, or just competely distracted. I don’t feel too weird taking them with my iPhone (when I remember), because I feel like that is pretty discrete, but sometimes you do sacrifice on the quality of the picture. Great discussion topic! 🙂

  2. Jen Correa on June 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I see no issue with it unless you are distracting others with a giant TMZ style flash. I love looking at pics of food and if anything it would draw me to the restaurant, not away. Besides 2011, restaurants need to get over it. Bloggers need to take pics to show me the food since I seldom get to eat anything so pretty. 😉

  3. Dee on June 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Since I like looking at blog food photos, it wouldn’t bother me. I ‘ve never actually seen someone taking a photo when I’m out. I really don’t think it would bother me- people have always taken pictures in restaurants, to commemorate the experience.

  4. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! on June 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I used to be totally oblivious to the idea that my photographing food was bothersome to anyone — until a friend was so embarrassed while out to dinner with me one night that she told me to cut it out! Hahaha. That being said, I think that as long as you aren’t using a disruptive flash in very dimly lit, romantic atmosphere, it’s totally acceptable. Sometimes it’s even okay to take one or two quick pictures with flash, but it shouldn’t be a whole ordeal.

    It might make people think you’re a little strange, but it might make people think you’re somebody, too! A restaurant owner came over to me once and started talking to me about my photos — I’m pretty sure he thought I was a critic or something at first!

  5. Susan on June 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I work at a small restaurant and I don’t mind people taking photos at all…a few patrons have told me they put them on facebook or their blogs, so I think of it as free advertising I suppose. If I’m out with friends, it doesn’t bother me for them to take food pictures. It isn’t any ruder than the person at the next table on their phone!

  6. Sonia (the Mexigarian) on June 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I take photos of my restaurant food all the time. I try not to use flash when the lighting is good. I think only my Hubby gets annoyed because I’m busy taking pictures and he wants to EAT. Once someone asked me if I was a food blogger and I said yes. She replied, ‘that explains it.’ lol. I see other people taking photos as well so it’s no big deal to me. But if it would a distraction or annoyance to other patrons, then I would keep photos to a minimum.

  7. mountain girl heidi on June 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I think it depends the type of restaurant. If I’m on a super nice date with the hubby, I definitely won’t take pictures. However, if it’s a more casual environment, we’re traveling, or whatever, then I might whip my camera out. I do avoid the flash, though. Sometimes I feel weird, but I’ve never been told to not take pictures.

  8. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) on June 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm


    I don’t think it’s necessarily in a restaurant’s best interest to ban photography–they should take any free press they can get, in most cases–but I do think it would be great for there to be some universal etiquette established, along the lines of what the article suggests. Cell phone photos, though? Whatever–the phone user could just as easily be checking her messages as taking a picture so I know I would be annoyed if an employee jumped up my butt for that.

    Personally, I rarely bring my camera anymore, but I’m with you–if the atmosphere gives me vibes that discourages me, I probably wouldn’t bother–I can always do a search for their images online if it’s important.

  9. Laura @ prettylittlewords on June 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I’m the same way — I’m only really open about taking pictures when we’re outside. Otherwise, I won’t take one, or I’ll sneak it in sans flash or with my phone. It just feels so awkward otherwise!

  10. Lindsay Loves Veggies on June 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I have my point and shoot, so I usually don’t mind whipping it out in restaurants. You can always just act like you’re taking a picuture of your date(s) if someone complains about a flash. Then again, the restaurants I frequent usually aren’t the fanciest, so maybe it’s just not as big of a deal.

  11. Moni'sMeals on June 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Really great discussion, I have not been in the situation where I blog my eats out so I dont know what I would do. Hmmmm. I think what I want to say is people should get over it really (depending on the place) but again I have not really been in this situation. 🙂

    You crack me up with your pickles and chocolate from yesterday! haha!

  12. Monika on June 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I’m super timid taking pictures in public of food or restaurants if I’m by myself, BUT if I’m with a friend I’ll shoot away!

  13. Morgan @ Becoming Rooks on June 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    If it’s a very dark restaurant where my flash would be obvious I will probably hesitate. Like you, its hard to be inconspicuous with a DSLR. But then again, I’ve seen families snap flash photo after flash photo of their gathering – should they be banned from photos, too?

  14. Carrie @ Confessions of a Dietitian on June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I would rather have a non-flash less great picture than break out the giant flash in a restaraunt. I can’t help it. I feel like a total douche to take a flash pic of my food. Obvs hundreds of people do it and feel no pain. The worst part is that the places I want to take pics of my food (ie wonderful, fancy, unusual places) are the places that I would feel the goofiest taking them.

  15. The Healthy Engineer on June 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    My blog isn’t that old so I haven’t really taken a fancy shmancy camera out to a restaurant yet! My iPod is the perfect spy camera. I hate the quality at times, but I still have to find the courage to whip out such a clunky gadget.

  16. erin @ WELL in L.A. on June 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Great topic for discussion. I don’t like lugging my T2i when I’m dressed up for a dinner out. I reserve the food photos for meals I cook at home. I do think it’s a little weird at times, especially when you’re out with friends or a larger group. I prefer to revel in time spent with friends vs. the food in front of me in those moments. Technology has impacted the food world – specifically restaurants – this made me remember the famous food critic who was “outed” by hackers late last year.

  17. Jess on June 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I try to trust my intuition when deciding whether or not to take photos in restaurants. It depends on the atmosphere, who I’m dining with, and what the general mood is at the table. I don’t care if other people take photos, but I do know that some consider it rude, so I try not to rock the boat.

    A lot of the time, I just use my cell phone for photos. I would say the majority of the photos on my blog are actually taken on the iPhone because it’s much more inconspicuous. I can be shy, and whipping out a camera is just something I’ve never been comfortable with for whatever reason. When a dining companion awkwardly holds their plate up for me to take pics of, it kind of irks me, though it’s hard to pinpoint why. Maybe it ups the “conspicuous” factor? In restaurants, I prefer to just take a quick pic and move on.

    I love your tip about sitting near a window—that makes a huge difference!

  18. mi-an on June 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I think there are times when it’s fine and sometimes also when it’s rude…just feel how the restaurant is like and you will usually know if it’s appropriate. I find it annoying sometimes…it’s like just eat people!! enjoy your food! i know you cannot wait to post your lunch on fb! of course at home it’s totally OK.

  19. Evan Thomas on June 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I really don’t think photos are a bad thing in restaurants so long as there’s no flash. I could see how the flash would irritate chefs but someone who is peacefully and respectfully taking photos shouldn’t be a problem.

  20. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on June 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I personally feel like such a dork when I am out in a restaurant taking pics of things so I don’t do much pic taking (but I hardly every go out anymore!) so when I do go out, I try to take my 1 or 2 uber fast shots and be done with it. But…if I am outside, all bets are off. Totally agree w/ you that it’s easier to do it outside.

    I think that if one is inside, a couple pics, FAST, are fine. But nothing staged, nothing longer than 30 secs, and the less use of flash the better.

    I truly dont care if people do it, though, b/c I am a photographer/blogger at heart…yet I do feel oddly out of place when I do it. But don’t care what anyone else does. Live and let live. And take pics 🙂

  21. Sarah on June 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t have a blog, but I love taking pictures of food! About 80%-95% of my day is surfing the net at cooking/food blogs (“food porn”). There are always people taking pics of each other in public places. Why not food? Maybe a restaurant is sensitive because they don’t know what you’re taking pics for. They shouldn’t mess with people just in case they write something bad about them on their blog!! LOL. If it’s good, they should be happy someone took a picture!

  22. Hayley @ Oat Couture on June 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I do it, but I definitely feel awkward about it. Also I don’t use the flash unless the place is empty or super casual… and like most people if i’m outside, I feel no shame at all and snap away till I have the picture I want! 🙂 (don’t get me wrong it’s not like I take ages! I can’t leave my food untouched for that long!) Really though I don’t see why restauranteurs have a problem with it… it’s free publicity!

  23. Hillary on June 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I just started my blog a few weeks ago, and I definitely don’t feel comfortable breaking out the camera just yet. I feel a little too conspicuous!

  24. Every Mile A Memory on June 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I am NOT a food blogger (only so many pb sandwiches someone can look at!), but I wouldn’t mind it maybe because I enjoy the reviews? I don’t typically like to eat out, but knowing a blogger loved it would help me decide where to go. I think that places are missing a HUGE marketing opportunity by banning photography. It is just a way to get their food out to the public!

  25. Samantha on June 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    As a blogger, I always smile a little when I see someone else whip out a camera to take photos of their food. I always feel weird when I do it, but I haven’t gotten any rude remarks or stares about it. People watch for a minute, then go back to their own business. Or I just mind my own. One or the other. 🙂

    I think it’s a little ridiculous for photography to be banned completely. Bloggers should just use their best judgement. If it’s a super fancy restaurant, it’s really dark, or your table is right next to another one, don’t take photos because it’s rude to the other guests and can draw a lot of attention. Otherwise, I think you should be allowed to snap away!

  26. dep on June 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Interesting, last week i was at a sushi restaurant (the kind where you sit around the revolving thing with the plates on it. yeah, that thing) and opposite me a girl whipped out a super-huge camera and took a few pictures. My first thought: food blogger! But regardless, while i don’t think she was taking pictures of the diners, she was directly opposite me – i didn’t like it as i didn’t know if i was in the pictures which i found disconcerting. I don’t really care if people take pictures of their food, but i do care if i’m involved in some way. Does that make sense?

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      totally! i would be creeped out

  27. Danielle (Shrinking and Studying) on June 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I have no problem with other people taking food pictures! The way I see it it’s no different than taking pictures of each other and people ALWAYS do that in restaurants. I know I’ll never be food blogger because I just feel too uncomfortable to take pictures of my own food. I’m the type of person who is super tolerant of other people but always super anxious about accidentally offending someone else in public. 🙂 Most of my fave blogs are foodies though and I love all their restaurant food pictures!

  28. Katherine on June 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    No one in my family blogs but we are all big food porno enthusiasts! When chef’s put so much effort into incredible presentation it seems perfectly understandable to want to save and share that experience. Screw the haters, snap on chica!

  29. Carie on June 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I feel weird taking pictures on restaurants but I’m trying to get over it!

  30. cathy on June 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    i wouldn’t mind at all if the photographer was discreet. in fact, i’d be intrigued as to why he/she is taking a photo: blog? facebook? special celebration? i’d be less tolerant if it turned into a production with lights, camera, action going on!
    i like your style, gina – your restaurant photos are straighforward – you can tell you just whipped out the little camera, fired off a snap, and that’s it, let’s eat! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      i try to be as fast as possible!

  31. Silvia @ skinny jeans food on June 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I guess it depends of HOW people take picts of their food. Whether it is relaxed, without flash, no big deal, a few picts, or is it a more nervous, paparazzi-type of energy, endless close-ups of food that looks more like someone is doing a medical investigation, I think I would not like that too much.

  32. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on June 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    If you can argue that taking pictures in restaurants is distracting, couldn’t you also argue that taking pictures at ceremonies, sports games, school events, etc is distracting? It would be silly to ban photographs at these kinds of events, so I don’t think that they should be banned at restaurants either. That’s just my two cents though!

  33. Rebecca on June 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Great question. I’ve always wondered that myself whenever I take pictures in a resturant. I kind of see it both ways, but generally if you’re taking a picture of food at a resturant its a testament to the chef for having good food style (who doesn’t want to capture good food?)

  34. Sara on June 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I also have a beast of a camera (and BTW, I’m not allowed to talk to you now that I know you have a Canon. I’m a Nikon girl. Don’t you know, there is a civil war going on in the camera world?). In restaurants though, I usually use my phone camera. The quality is pretty average but it’s inconspicuous and the blog readers can just soak up the ambiance of a slightly fuzzy, darkened restaurant pic. Well, it depends. If it’s a group restaurant expedition then generally, no probs. Also.. and this is really, really geeky, I have a mini tripod and that is ok for food shots if I DO want a really good shot without flash. Food doesn’t move so you can use a very slow shutter speed, gets a nice, clear shot in low light and most people don’t notice you are doing it. Have also achieved this effect balancing the camera on top of a glass..

  35. Teri [a foodie stays fit] on June 17, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    If it’s a casual and/or chain restaurant, I don’t really mind. But anything fancy-ish, with dim lighting or intimate-feeling, I think it’s very rude to take photographs unless you call ahead and discuss it with the manager first.

  36. Kristina @ spabettie on June 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I have been taking photos in restaurants LONGER than I have been blogging! 🙂 we like to go out to some really nice restaurants, and I started calling ahead and asking if they minded a camera (I never use flash!). I have never been told no… in fact, just the other night we were out and Jason ordered the same dish as our neighbors (we had started a friendly conversation with them…) and they said Jason’s presentation looked BETTER, and they thought it was because of the camera! 🙂

    There are times, though, when it’s date night and I leave the camera at home…

  37. Kim on June 17, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Oh, man, this is a huge source of contention between my girlfriend and I. She (Argentine) loves snapping photos (of each other, the food, etc.) in restaurants. I (American) am constantly cringing or refusing, because I’m afraid that the flash is majorly disruptive to other guests. But if there’s no flash involved — I think it’s absolutely fine, unless the restaurant has an explicit no-photos policy.

  38. Katherina @ Zephyr Runs on June 18, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I had a great dinner at the restaurant where I work and felt strange taking a picture of it! I don’t mind when customers do, though. Usually it means they’re going to share it with others and hey, that’s the best kind of advertising!

  39. Courtney @ Sweet Tooth Sweet Life on June 18, 2011 at 2:55 am

    I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t mind taking photos in restaurants. Granted, I only have my little point and shoot and barely ever use my flash at the risk of drawing attention to myself. However…the day I finally get my big DSLR, I’m breakin’ that puppy out anywhere and everywhere! 😉

  40. Jaime on June 18, 2011 at 3:37 am

    I specifically carry my point & shoot instead of my Rebel just for restaurant photos (and random photo ops!). For the most part I have no problems with taking the pics…I try to just whip my camera out, keep it table height, and get er done.

    My ex hated it but eventually got used to it in casual restaurants. Personally I chose never to do it on our “date nights” because it sort of ruined the mood. (Sad though because of that I never got pics of my favourite restaurant in Halifax before I moved).

    Recently I find the only time I don’t want to do it is if I’m out with someone new that doesn’t know about my blog. Or on first/second dates.

  41. babs on June 18, 2011 at 5:56 am

    So embarrassing, but a guy caught me taking a picture of a lunch place I eat at and thought I was snapping photos of him 🙁

    I wouldn’t be offended if someone took a picture or two of her food, but I wouldn’t do it in an uber fancy place

  42. Marissa on June 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I took my first restaurant photo last night! I don’t see anything wrong with it if it is done quickly and discretely. I would never use a flash, though, and I probably wouldn’t pull out a big bulky camera. But a 3-second snap with a little point-and-shoot? I see no problem with that!

  43. Julie (A Case of the Runs) on June 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    So I once ate at a place where they saw me taking photos of the food, and they told me that their policies did not allow me to post these on the Internet. I was upset because I really liked the restaurant and wanted to write it a glowing review, but that sort of put me off. I don’t really believe in hiding anything as an establishment…

  44. Pure2raw twins on June 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    good thing I do not go out to eat much…but when I do I lately have been using my iphone for photos, haha I guess I am not a true food blogger since I do not always have my big camera with me, oh well

  45. Tiera on June 18, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I enjoy taking pictures of food! And more than thinking about that interrupting the other diners, I was always wondering how much it was embarassing my family & friends, lol! Lately I’ve resorted to iPhone photos to be a little more inconspicuous… And the quality’s amazing!

  46. Ashley on June 19, 2011 at 1:03 am

    I feel weird taking pics sometimes, but I’ll do it anyway. Most of the time, the restaurants I eat at are pubs or something of that same ambiance (really loud), so I don’t see why anyone should mind. There are so many people that take group photos at restaurants so I don’t see why it should matter if people are taking pictures of their food. One thing I thought was weird is that when I was at work the other day (a natural foods store) , a woman took a picture of the sign on our building when walking in. I wasn’t bothered by it, but I was curious why she wanted the picture. I always hear people say, “I need to take a picture of this for my blog!” at my work.

  47. Rhiannon on June 20, 2011 at 9:17 am

    The older I get the more I realize how important pictures are, and how I wish that I was taking more of them. It doesn’t bother me at all if people are taking pictures in restaurants. To me, it just shows that it’s either an occasion that’s important to them or they want to be able to look back on.

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