Following on from my recent post on my trip to The Square, I would like to make clear that none of the photos that are included in the post were taken by myself or anyone at my table, but were from the square’s official site. I say this less for reasons of avoiding copyright issues, and more because it means I can segue neatly into talking about my views on photography in restaurants. It’s high time for a few firm stances to alienate some blog readers, so here goes. No, I am not ok with diners photographing their food in fine dining restaurants (I repeat, in fine dining restaurants), for three main reasons. First, it is important to realise how hard chefs work in high end professional kitchen to get your food out to you not just ‘on time’, but neatly presented and hot. For you to sit there taking a photo of your loin of lamb while it gets cold, or your soufflé collapses, is both an insult to the chefs who have prepared it, and also makes little sense. You’ve paid, in all likelihood, a lot of money for this food and you are sitting watching it get cold instead of eating it.
The second reason relates to the nature of food photography of us. 99.9% of us are not food photographers, and probably shouldn’t try to be. Neither are restaurants designed to create good lighting for photographing food for those who do know how. The result is that diners are letting their food get cold to take photographs of food that are, to put it bluntly, usually awful. There is no point. The average photo on trip advisor would not persuade me to go to the restaurant in question, as amateur photography simply does not make neatly presented food look particularly appetising.
It is of course true that many chefs themselves probably do not have a problem with diners photographing their meal, because on balance, they consider the publicity that it garners through blogs and twitter to be more beneficial than both the risk of terrible quality photographs and the detriment to the diner’s individual plate of food (the ‘if they want to eat it cold, that’s their business’ attitude).
My final reason lies in the notion of the camera/phone itself. To me, it is simply quite rude to take out your camera in a smart restaurant when with someone and start taking photos. If done for every course of a tasting menu then you would be taking your camera/phone out ten times a meal. It is only a small step away from checking your texts ten times during a meal in a nice restaurant.
And quite frankly, if I need to persuade you that using your phone whilst out for dinner with others is unacceptable, then you’re probably beyond help anyway.