What if restaurants banned photographs?

Do you take photos of your food? Read this.

food images

Picture the scene: You’ve just arrived at The Potluck Club for a long awaited romantic dinner. Your date is looking dashing and when the waiter comes to tell you about the menu, your inner hedonist starts jumping with glee. You know it’s going to be a night of epicurean ecstasy (if nothing else!).

You both order starters and when they arrive, you whip out your iPhone and start snapping away, taking photos of the food like it’s a kind of foreign species you’ve just discovered. You turn the plate to get a better angle -  that piece of Chervil isn’t quite in the centre. When the photo review pops up it definitely seems like the lighting is a bit “off” so you put the flash on and try again. 

This time though, you need a prop! So you grab your fork, positioning it just so,  and place the menu underneath the plate, of course, making sure that the restaurant’s logo is visible. You take the shot and then realise that it would look, like, SO much better in Valencia!  So you open Instagram and start selecting the theme.

Your date clears his throat and for a moment you’re distracted. You look up and see that’s he’s finished his food and smiling at the girl sitting at a nearby table…

Let me just put it out there and say that it happens to the best of us; that moment when you forget about everything and everyone else in favour of getting the perfect pic of your food.


Who would have thought that the hashtag,  #food would been used over 32 million times – a stat that was reported in  this week’s issue of Grazia magazine.  The article prompted me to write this because (apart from being my job), taking pics of food in restaurants/public places is what I find myself doing. A lot. (See below)

Should I feel guilty? Or stupid?  Well, after being alerted to this blog (Thanks again to Grazia), I definitely do.

It appears that half the world has become obsessed with being their own food stylist. But what do restaurants have to say about the craze?

Restaurants ban photography

According to the article, a few high profile chefs have banned photography from their establishments. Which is totally fine – I get it. It sometimes disrupts the dining atmosphere (if it’s a posh one) and some people just take it too far by bringing in what may look like a full blown photography studio; different lens filters, an adjustable flash, tripods the size of a giraffe and who knows what else!

But what about when all you have on you is your sleek and slender cell phone that is so discreet, one struggles to even notice it. Plus, can you still be banned from having your phone with you in a restaurant? After raising the issue with Cath, it was clear that NO ONE is ever taking her phone away from her… which makes me think that something like restaurant food photography is rather controversial and could just rub a lot of people up the wrong way. Especially those of us in food media.

As far as I know, there doesn’t seem to be a restaurant in South Africa that does ban photography of its food.

But what if there were? And how would you handle it?

By: Tessa Purdon




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