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



Heads up: Facebook friends- giveaway comin’ atcha this afternoon 😉

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  1. Ari@ThE DiVa DiSh on June 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I always feel nervous when taking a picture. Definitely don’t want to draw attraction, or distract others..But I also want to document things.
    I agree with your tips. I have never thought to call ahead 🙂
    Happy Friday!

  2. Jackie @ Baking Charms on June 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

    People definitely stare when too much camera action is happening. I always get really embarrassed but like you said, it it’s outdoors or super casual it’s no big thang. I also have a girlfriend who wants to take 100 group photos whenever we go out to dinner together… just as awkward as food photos!

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

      haha very true!

  3. April @ Grits and Granola Bars on June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I very rarely take pics of my food inside a restaurant unless I can do it quickly with no flash. Mainly because I know it irritates me to no end when people are taking pictures in restaurants and there’s lots of flash going…like when people are there for special occasions or whatever. And also I don’t want to call attention to myself and be the weird girl taking pics of food 😉 So I prefer my food photography to be limited to my own home or those times when I can do it under the radar and not use flash. 🙂

  4. Kelly @foodiefresh on June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I don’t think some restaurant realize the advertising potential of bloggers photographing their food. Not many people I know want to be “surprised” at a restaurant. They want to know they’re getting good food. And if they read a blog post about it and they trust the blogger, then they are way more likely to go visit the restaurant. I’ve had people tell me they read my blog to see what restaurants I go to and thankfully most of the restaurants in Charlotte embrace this. If I were in a really fancy restaurant, I wouldn’t use my flash and there are certain times where I’ve held back because of the group I was with, but not because I was in a restaurant. I typically do not feel rude or embarressed when I’m with my husband, good friends, or family.

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

      i’m the same way- husband, family and good friends are ok. with other people, it just doesn’t seem right.

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

      that’s a great point- it really is excellent advertising

  5. Stacy @ Every Little Thing on June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Great discussion topic! I think there is a fine line between what is appropriate and what isn’t. I would NEVER feel appropriate bringing out a giant DSLR camera at any restaurant. That said, my point-and-shoot takes really great photos and I sometime will use it. However, if the restaurant is more upscale, or if I’m trying to enjoy the company at the table, I typically don’t. If I’m out with just my boyfriend, and it’s a restaurant I’ve been wanting to blog about, then I might try it out. And ALWAYS without the flash! I think the flash in a restaurant is pretty rude.

    So like I said, it’s a fine line and you kind of have to feel it out. If you think it MIGHT be inappropriate, just don’t do it! You can find plenty of other things to blog about 🙂

  6. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on June 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Oh my goodness, I could talk forever about this!! When I first started blogging I felt really weird about busting out my camera in restaurants, but I’ve been using an iPhone4 for the last 6 months or so, which is much more discrete (and it does an amazing job – most of my blog photos are taken with my iPhone). I think my friends are used to me doing it now too, because they usually go, “Ok, do you need to take any photos before I eat this?” 😛 I also only tend to take photos when I’m with people that know I blog. I think banning photos in general is a bit of a shame because if you think about it, so many celebrations (birthdays, anniversaries, family get-togethers) take place in restaurants, and people might just want to take photos to remember the occasion – I think it would be a little over the top and unfair to ban that.

  7. alicia on June 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

    It’s funny to me that it could ruin the element of surprise for others! I guess I get that. I’m just not used to fancy places, the fanciest place I’ve been is Benihana’s, lol. I could see that maybe they don’t want others stealing their ideas? But, you could do that by eating there. At this point if I seen someone take a pic of their food, I would assume they will be blogging it or using it to track their food intake…it’s that kinda world we live in.

  8. Cheri on June 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I think it depends on the restaurant environment and who you are dining with. Recently I had a friend send me a picture of what they called sushi (it was a cucumber roll from their grocery store in a little plastic container!) SO when I went to one of my favorite sushi joints, I took a picture of what I called sushi (think white tuna, a roller coaster and a spicy salmon roll with a side of miso soup). If I weren’t a regular at the place I think I would have felt odd taking a picture but because I am I thought nothing of it. No romantic diners near me was a plus!

  9. Holly @ The Runny Egg on June 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I only take pictures if it seems appropriate — I don’t want to draw attention and I don’t want to distract other diners. So I usually opt not to. I definitely don’t snap a picture of the whole restaurant if it is filled with people — I would find that really annoying.

  10. Stacy @ Every Little Thing on June 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Also as a side note, there are upscale restaurants that consider food more of an art than just a meal, so to take photos of that may ruin part of the experience for other guests. Also, each plating might differ from one night to the next, so I completely understand why some upscale chefs don’t like people photograping their “art.”

  11. Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty on June 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I very rarely take photos of my food when I am out to eat. I don’t think it’s a problem, but I’m with the guy in the article – what happened to just going out and enjoying the food!!

    Interesting post, thanks for sharing that article!

  12. Laury @ thefitnessdish on June 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I always feel kind of weird, and like I am doing something wrong almost…like I need to hide it. However…if you were out with a group and took photos of each other or asked the waiter to take a pic of you and Pilot bc if was a special occasion no one would be offended or mind. SO in a way, what’s the difference if the center of your focus is the food that your cam is out for. You know?

    If I am in a crowded place, or somewhere super fancy I feel weird taking human pics or food pics but nonetheless I usually see someone whipping out a camera…I am usually the only one taking a pic of the black bean soup though 😉

  13. Laury @ thefitnessdish on June 17, 2011 at 11:56 am

    oh…and I never seem to get good food photos with flash so if there’s not good lighting I usually nix the food blogging all together at that place

  14. Amelia on June 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Honestly, I think that as long as you are comfortable with taking the photo it is fine. If you were out for a business meeting or with a boss, I would probably say no just because I would feel weird. However, restaurants should embrace bloggers and others taking photos of their food. I would take this as a compliment and free advertisement (especially if it is a good review)!

  15. Theodora on June 17, 2011 at 11:57 am

    It took me forever to feel comfortable enough to use a point-and-shoot and not my iPhone in restaurants, but there’s still some situations I won’t pull my camera out in. Sometimes it’s just inappropriate.

  16. AJ on June 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    This is a tricky one! I read your blog and a few others regularly and love seeing the pics of food and it always inspires me! However, I will admit it might be weird to sit next to a friend who whipped out a big camera. On a related note, I do get annoyed when I’m out to dinner with friends and people on on their iphones taking pics and tweeting about their meal, “checking in” on four square, etc. I actually saw a tweated pic on fb of a table at a restaurant, and you could see EVERY other person at the table also on their phones and cameras. It seems like there is a line between documenting things and getting so caught up that you can’t enjoy the meal and the friends who are providing the company. As long as its quick and doesn’t take over the meal, I think it’s fine.

  17. Mac on June 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I have at times felt weird taking photos in restaurants. I haven’t really been to any fancy ones since I started blogging, so I haven’t had the issue of feeling rude with taking pictures, but I could possibly see how other may think it is… but really is it that big of a deal?! To each his own!

  18. skinnyrunner on June 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    great discussion question! i kinda feel like if you’re a paying customer you should be able to take as many photos as you want as long as you aren’t disturbing other paying customers.

  19. Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) on June 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I think it definitely depends on the restaurant. My fiance and I were at a really fancy place for our anniversary ($130 for the two of us.. not even counting the tip!) and there was a group of girls constantly snapping pictures and flashes were going off every five seconds (plus they were super loud). It was really frustrating and kinda put a damper on our dinner-portion of our anniversary. It’s hard to be all romantic with madness in the background ya know?

    I think at a normal restaurant it’s NBD though 🙂 for me, sneaky iphone photos are where it’s at. Not the best quality of pictures but it does the trick for me!

    • Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) on June 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      I realize my comment is more about photos being taken inside a restaurant in general, but it’s how I feel!

  20. Dani on June 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    i do feel a little awkward if i’m out with people i don’t know, but i’m usually out with friends and they don’t care and know i have a blog. although when i’ve been to super fancy places i just don’t take pictures. that would be a no go.

  21. LindsayH on June 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    see, i like the no-flash photo better 🙂
    im bashful, and i definitely do not feel comfortable taking flash photography at a restaurant or if we’re with other people. if it’s somewhere particularly dark, i think it’s rude to other guests as well to use a flash.

  22. Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life on June 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Depends on where I am and what I am doing… sometimes my husband will give me looks like “seriously your taking a picture of your food now….” so I do try to be considerate of where I am. If its a fancy place then I will not but unless I’m told otherwise I say do as you please!

  23. Sara on June 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I love taking food pics- especially at restaurants- because I sometimes write restaurant reviews on my blog and like to show the goods. At first I just couldn’t do it (and all I have is a tiny Nikon point-and-shoot camera!), because I was really shy and didn’t want to draw attention to my table. Over time I became more comfortable, and I find that people rarely even notice. The better I get at taking pics, the faster I am able to get good shots and then I can tuck the cam away and enjoy my meal. I’m all for food pics! As long as it doesn’t disturb other diners, I see no problem.

  24. Trisha on June 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I don’t take pictures of my food mostly because I think it is a little weird/bothersome to other around me. People go out to eat usually for a treat, special occasion, etc. So to have someone next to you taking pictures of their food, with or without the flash, can be pretty distracting. That being said, I like to see other people’s blogs with the food they eat! So I guess it is a toss up 🙂

  25. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen on June 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Good post! I was just at Tao in NYC which was incredibly dark inside. It was just too nice of a place though to whip out the flash and where we were seated, our neighboring tables were pretty close. So I took dark pictures that would’ve come out better with a flash but there was just no way I was going to do that. It was already awkward enough using my bulky canon T3.
    I don’t get distracted or annoyed when others do it so I don’t really worry about that part. But, I am sensitive to how weird I must look doing it!

  26. Erin on June 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I think that as long as you’re not being obnoxious about it, taking photos is OK. Honestly, my biggest concern is that the chef will run out because he or she thinks that I am trying to steal one of their secret recipes!

  27. Lindsey on June 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I don’t think its rude and would never mind. I am still uncomfortable with it thought and usually do the sneaky phone camera thing 😉

  28. Suzanne on June 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I stopped taking photos of every meal I ate a long time ago, partly because it was too much work, but also because I felt really awkard about it. I feel more comfortable taking pictures of the food I eat at home, but that’s not nearly as exciting as the food I eat at restaurants. If I really want to document a restaurant meal, I try to be discrete. I don’t use a flash, and try to take it quickly. I pretty much only take the photos when I’m with close friends or family. I would never take one when I’m out with acquaintances or work colleagues. For the most part, I think as long as you don’t use a flash, it’s not a big deal. If you’re in a nice, dimly lit restaurant, I think using a flash is rude to other patrons. But if you feel comfortable with it, I think it’s otherwise ok.

  29. Amanda @ Cucina Amanda on June 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I always feel like such a dork taking pictures in restaurants. Plus, I don’t want to be rude and annoy everyone else in the restaurant. I’ve been trying to take more my restaurant pictures on my iPhone that way I’m not annoying everyone.

  30. Cait @ Urban Fencepost on June 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I just started blogging and so taking pictures in restaurants (of my food) is new to me. I think whether I do or not will end up depending on the situation – who I’m with and the restaurant.

  31. Lauren @ Sugar Coated Sisters on June 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I love taking photos of my food! I do it all the time and also have a T1. I’ll take a photo of something fancy, like foie gras from Tyler Florence’s restaurant in San Francisco, Wayfare Tavern and I’ll take a photo of my fro yo at Yogurtland – doesn’t matter to me!

    I can’t imagine that even a couple of years ago (before I knew about blogs and the “foodie” persona) a friend snapping a photo of food would bother me. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal!

    You would think that restaurants would encourage patrons to snap pictures and blog about their food. Any press is good press, right?

  32. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on June 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t really like taking pictures in restaurants because people do look. Also the sound of the camera/flash can be distracting to other diners. I usually just give myself the night off for taking pics when I eat out.

  33. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey on June 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t usually blog about restaurants for that reason alone – I feel so awkward whipping out my Rebel for all to see. 🙂

  34. Allie Q @ Fit Geek on June 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    good topic! sometimes i feel a bit silly taking pictures in restaurants, but it never occurred to me that it would bother other people. i guess maybe i’m a little dense, or i’ve never been bothered by people taking pictures so i didn’t think of it! but banning it completely seems a bit harsh.

  35. Callie @ Callieflower Kitchen on June 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t really have a problem taking photos in restaurants – I never use flash (you can edit almost anything!) and I don’t think I’m being very disruptive to anyone around me. I feel comfortable taking pictures with friends and family, but if I’m out at work dinners I usually don’t whip out my camera as a professionalism thing.

    However, I have had people ask me why I was photographing the food, and I’ve once had a waiter tell me they don’t allow photos. Dunno why, we were pretty much the only ones there and I was gonna say great things about it!

  36. Cassie @ Back to Her Roots on June 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    It never even occurred to me that restaurants wouldn’t allow photographs until I went to NYC this past weekend. But the husband and I were just in a carry-out juice place and were ordering our juice and there was a really fun tower of bananas that I was going to take pictures of and I got shot down! I was shocked.

    I never, ever use a flash in a restaurant. I think that is distracting. But I don’t see any problem with taking pictures without one. I never feel awkward about it. If anything, it has gotten me more readers because servers and other patrons tend to come up to me and ask why I’m taking photos of my food.

  37. lightlygildedlily on June 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I only take pictures of people in restaurants. and i agree, it can feel weird!

  38. Michelle on June 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    If the restaurant is well lit, I try to be courteous and take pictures with my iPhone. They aren’t always the BEST pictures – but you still get the general idea!

    If I’m with my hubby, brothers, or close friends I have no problems taking pictures. Also when I’m with other bloggers (I watched Julie from PB Fingers take pictures — man, she is a PRO at taking them quick!). Otherwise, I don’t bust out the big camera.

  39. Brandi on June 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Most of my friends are used to it but I definitely avoid it in certain situations. Large groups of mixed company, super dark restuarants, or the times when I am starved by the time the food comes out and I forget to take a pic before I take a bite! I don’t think it’s too big of a deal though as long as you are quick about it and arent disturbing other people. I also use a point and shoot so it’s a little more discreet than a big dslr.

  40. Taysa on June 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Personally I hate it when people are playing with any kind of gadget in a restaurant, be it taking photos with a camera or camera phone, surfing the web on their smart phone (the light from the screen is pretty bright even in daytime) or anything else.

    I think restaurants are for sitting and eating and conversing. If you happen to be alone, I think reading is acceptable. If you want to play with toys, you should get your food to go. It is just a matter of etiquette to me.

    • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      cell phones drive me CRAZY in restaurants. i just feel like you should just enjoy the company of the people you’re with

  41. Sara @BakingandWine on June 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I never take pictures in restaurants. I don’t, however, think it’s rude. I just think it’s weird, haha.

    Honestly though, if a little flash is going to ruin someone’s dinner I don’t think they’re having a very good dinner to begin with. And, ruining the surprise for other diners? I don’t care what my food looks like, I care about what it tastes like. Someone taking a picture of the food is not going to ruin the taste surprise for me. Not to mention, if you’re the type of person who likes to be surprised by the visual you probably are not snooping around blogs that take pictures of restaurant food.

  42. Steph @ A Life Without Ice Cream on June 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Yeah I pretty much agree. I think there’s a time and a place and you can just *feel* if its appropriate. Probably about 90% of the time I don’t take photos of the food if I’m out but the odd time if something is really interesting or if its just that type of setting I will. Tends to be the more casual of a place (and often the brighter) the more I would be comfortable provided it wasn’t really noticable to those around me.

    Good post and link!

  43. Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy & Healthy on June 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I scope out the scene first before I decide if it’s appropriate or not. I have yet to go somewhere I felt it would cause a scene or be an issue, but then I don’t go anywhere super fancy either 🙂
    My friends and family differ in opinion- some give me weird looks and sink lower in their chairs and some are like “Ohhh you should a picture of this!” and beat me to it.

  44. Amy on June 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Great discussion topic!

    I never ever bring my SLR to restaurants. I’m just not comfortable with it.

    I don’t blog for a living, and nor is my blog a complete foodie blog.. but I just feel that you have to “live” sometimes without documenting every. single. moment.

    I prefer to see pics of homemade food anyways!

    • Katie on June 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      Oh my gosh, I absolutely agree about living without capturing every single moment! My mom and I recently went to Paris and we only have less than a dozen pics of the trip because we were more interested in enjoying the experience than documenting everything. 🙂

  45. Katie on June 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    This is such an interesting topic. 🙂 I think this can kind of going along with the whole texting while out to eat with someone. I don’t think I’d mind if my friend took pictures of their food as long as they weren’t spending the rest of the meal looking at all of the pictures they took, realizing they got a bad shot and spending more time trying to get a good shot. I don’t know… this is so interesting! I guess I really haven’t been in this situation, so I can only speculate. Let’s just say that if they were more focused on getting the right pic and less focused on the company, then I’d be annoyed. 🙂

  46. Jaclyn on June 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Ah yes, the ultimate food blogger question…..
    I think it’s okay if a) it’s not suppppper fancy and you have no flash going off and b) you do it as quickly and discreetly as possible. I think snapping a photo or two quickly, right when your meal is set down, is very different than a full on photo shoot, so I don’t think there’s too much wrong with that… However, I think sometimes people go overboard with it.

  47. Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola on June 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    This is definitely an issue that I’ve been having lately! I feel like it’s awkward to bust out the camera and take pictures of the food or of me when I’m out eating. But I want to share it on the blog so I feel conflicted! I also feel awkward about the people I’m with thinking it is weird or inconsiderate since I’m taking the attention off of them. Maybe since I’m new at this I’ll get more used to it, but right now it just feels weird!

  48. Mellissa on June 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I bring my small camera and don’t use a flash, I have no issue with taking pictures with friends/family but going on a bunch of first dates lately I haven’t taken pictures 😉

  49. Ashley @ Thefitacademic on June 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Wow, I’ve never even really thought of this debate before, but I guess I agree with your stance – outside is no big deal, but inside it depends on the atmosphere, level of “fanciness”, and proximity to other diners.

  50. Ana on June 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    There is a time and place for everything. In some occasions it is just fine to photograph, in others it is not the best idea, you have to be the judge and make sure you are not making anyone uncomfortable (including yourself).
    Am I the only one who actually prefer the picture with no flash?? 🙂

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