Debate: Should You Stop Taking Photos of Your Restaurant Meals?

Photo: flickr/@boetter

Photo: flickr/@boetter

It seems like second nature for a lot of folks, but the trendy hobby of snapping photos at mealtimes has some chefs fighting back (and even banning the practice altogether), says The New York Times. Naturally, the article brought out voices from both sides of the issue, with some standing behind chefs and others calling the move unnecessary. 

Esquire points out that “cameras and restaurants go together like bananas and Sprite,” following with 11 or so reasons why photography is incongruous with a good dining experience. A June 2012 open letter via McSweeney’s lambasted Instagrammers focusing their smartphones on food as “part of a fast growing legion of people that have been duped into believing they are visionaries, auteurs, even.”

Web Pro News agrees that “oversharing of food photography” can be annoying but finds the whole idea of being prohibited from taking a photo absurd. It could be that dining out is a special experience for some people, and they might want a souvenir. Plus, it’s too ingrained in our social fabric at this point, writes Josh Wolford, so chefs might as well accept it. Bottom-line: “[The customer] paid for his meal and wants to take a picture of it.”

If you must take a photo, you might as well do it well, says The Week, which offers tips on how to capture the best shot from Andrew Scrivani, along with a note on etiquette—basically, “don’t be a jerk.” On Bon Appetit, Matt Duckor also stands up in support of photo-snapping, offering advise on framing, filters, and other ways to improve your shots. (We’ve also got our own tips on how to Instagram food like a pro, from Spin photo editor Jolie Ruben.)

Of course, not all restaurants shun photography. Comodo in New York City built its menu around a hashtag, allowing diners to Instagram dishes and create a visual bill of fare.

Fast Co.Exist sees the possibilities of food photos on Instagram beyond daily documentation. Used with the app Now, a photo can become “a key for social access.” The idea is to gather relevant photos of what’s happening throughout the city as a live, crowdsourced city guide. 

Ultimately, we’re in the camp of “do what you want, just be respectful and don’t ruin the meal.” Some people are legitimately awesome at taking Instagram food shots, and for the rest of us, it’s still a fun way to share our eating adventures with friends.

So, what do you—follow us on Instagram?

  • rachel

    Tell me if it’s just me, but I don’t think instagramed food looks that appetizing. I think it’s a trend (“instagram”) that has gotten completely out of hand.

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