Jump to content
Jacques Gastreaux

Taking Pictures In Restaurants

Recommended Posts

I never ever use flash either. The only place I did not try to take (at least one) a picture was at The French Laundry -- that was all about the experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can read my thoughts HERE.

No, no tripod. If you have the right kind of camera and lens, you can easily take a photo inside komi with no flash or tripod. You just have to have very still hands. If you go on my flickr, many of the photos I have taken in restaurants have been under lighting conditions similar, if not worse than komi. If you saw my photo of the outside of komi, I can assure you that the lighting outside on the sidewalk at 9 p.m. was just as dark, if not darker than inside the restaurant.

Great to see you on DR, I've enjoyed your blog for many years. Your photographs and La Tartine Gourmande's have been some of the most exquisite food photographs taken over the past few years.

As for the topic at hand, I think photographs taken tastefully are not a problem. However these kind of rules are usually written for people who need them and unfortunately they punish everyone uniformly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great to see you on DR, I've enjoyed your blog for many years. Your photographs and La Tartine Gourmande's have been some of the most exquisite food photographs taken over the past few years.

As for the topic at hand, I think photographs taken tastefully are not a problem. However these kind of rules are usually written for people who need them and unfortunately they punish everyone uniformly.

lion, thanks so much for the welcome and kind words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Avoiding the 'take food pics at a restaurant' discussion. If using a smartphone to take pics considered the free app Snapseed (iOS or Android). Lots of nice processing capability (at least to use on a smartphone).

I thank you for the phone tip! I take lots of pix with my Android phone and they're never as good as the ones friends take with iPhones. Will try Snapseed out.

<Avoiding the 'take food pics at a restaurant' discussion. If using a smartphone to take pics considered the free app Snapseed (iOS or Android). Lots <of nice processing capability (at least to use on a smartphone).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will never forget the first time I heard a cell phone go off at a Michelin three-star restaurant - it was at Marc Veyrat, and the ringtone was the Bach B-Minor BadinerieAt the time, it was actually funny; in the past fifteen-or-so years, the 74,000 *other* times I've experienced it have grown wearisome.

In case anyone hasn't noticed (for the past decade), I rarely accompany my posts with photographs.

Although I've never tried to put it into words, I've always "felt" that photographs in a restaurant commentary are not only cheating - each picture speaking a thousand words for the poorly equipped author - but more to the detriment, they take away the magic of discovery for the reader.

I look at my posts as little works of art being helpful to the consumer, but if I really wanted to be "helpful" in a Ralph Nader-sense, I'd throw in a few pictures so readers wouldn't have to suffer through my labored writing, and could see the exact product.

Photography in food writing is lazy - it's for people who can't put a thought into words. Alexandre Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillière, and Gilles Goujon, chef at the Michelin three-star L'Auberge du Vieux Puits - agreeVive la France, et Cocorico!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Photography in food writing is lazy - it's for people who can't put a thought into words. Alexandre Gauthier, chef at La Grenouillière, and Gilles Goujon, chef at the Michelin three-star L'Auberge du Vieux Puits - agreeVive la France, et Cocorico!

Photography in food writing may be lazy but that's a bit leading - you've structured your argument around the act of creative writing with food as the subject. It's a valid (and enjoyable) approach, but for some people the goal may be more about communicating their experience and photos can be a means to an end. While a great writeup of a meal can present the art of both the restaurant and the author, it's heavily dependent on the author's writing ability. I'd rather see a set of photos than an essay from someone who's a great photographer but a poor writer, just as I wish good food critics would stop posting their terrible cellphone food photos on social media.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Photography in food writing may be lazy but that's a bit leading - you've structured your argument around the act of creative writing with food as the subject. It's a valid (and enjoyable) approach, but for some people the goal may be more about communicating their experience and photos can be a means to an end. While a great writeup of a meal can present the art of both the restaurant and the author, it's heavily dependent on the author's writing ability. I'd rather see a set of photos than an essay from someone who's a great photographer but a poor writer, just as I wish good food critics would stop posting their terrible cellphone food photos on social media.

I agree with everything you say here, but it pains me that that photographs deny future diners the numerous joys of self-discovery (not talking masturbation), and also purloin a bit more of the chef's intellectual property than makes me comfortable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

photographs... purloin a bit more of the chef's intellectual property than makes me comfortable.

:huh:  You can't be serious.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:huh:  You can't be serious.

I think he can, and I will try to quantify what I *think* is Don's position on this. If it is not Don's, it is certainly mine.

Going to any restaurant is a "complete" experience. It is 3 dimensional, exists in time and involves every sense. When we write a review, we are explaining that experience without appeal to any sense, or dimension or time. Writing a review does not (ever) include an actual scent. Or an actual noise from the meal, or an actual flavor. A written report injects another's thoughts basically directly into the brain...without any "capture" and conveyance of the sights/tastes/feels/smell/sounds that are experienced in a meal.

When a reviewer takes a picture and convey it as part of the experience, they are removing ALL other aspects and leaving the viewer with a distorted shell of the experience. That picture is:

- 2D, not 3d.

- includes no sounds, textures, tastes or smells.

- is a instant in time and not the continuum of the full experience.

OK, so what? Let's "stretch a point to make a point".

Let's say I go to a 5 star place. We are co-workers and I bring you one bite of each of the dishes I had. I take each bite and microwave it to the right tempurature it in the office break room, then serve it to you on a paper plate.

YES - I am more accurately conveying the tastes that I experienced, more so than I could ever write. You will experience the same tastes I did and what better way to review and share my fine dining experience?

BUT - have I done you any real favors? Maybe a slight bit - but if I write a detailed, quality review, then accompany it with this "taste on a paper plate" - have I added *anything* to my written review to make the case that you should go?

I'd argue that sharing a taste like that is detrimental. In every case.

So too with photographs. Yes, they show what the food looked like - but so what? In a photo I'm only getting colors and shapes. Maybe I get a bit of useful portion size information - but any good reviewer can convey that easily in writing. THE REST OF WHAT A PHOTO CONVEYS (or more accurately, fails to convey), in the context of a restaurant review, IS DOING NOTHING, OR WORSE, BEING DETRIMENTAL. I might as well cut out a piece of the restaurant's window curtain and bring it back to you and say "see how wonderful the dining experience is???"

I've only ever found pictures of the restaurant interior to be of some value as it helps determine if I need to wear a tie. I also understand that journalism and the sale of newspapers/magazines require some photos. But I'm with Don- photos aren't helping, pretty much ever. Dining is a full 3d/in time/all senses experience. To take a small sliver of that experience as a proxy for the overall is as pointless as handing someone a cup of sand and telling them how wonderful your vacation was.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add that I appreciate excellent photography and don't mind if others photograph their food (except flashes in dark places). Photos are great as art, and to preserve memories. I can think of a few meals I wish I'd photographed.

But in the context of a review I stand by the prior post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So too with photographs. Yes, they show what the food looked like - but so what? In a photo I'm only getting colors and shapes. Maybe I get a bit of useful portion size information - but any good reviewer can convey that easily in writing. THE REST OF WHAT A PHOTO CONVEYS (or more accurately, fails to convey), in the context of a restaurant review, IS DOING NOTHING, OR WORSE, BEING DETRIMENTAL. I might as well cut out a piece of the restaurant's window curtain and bring it back to you and say "see how wonderful the dining experience is???"

I've only ever found pictures of the restaurant interior to be of some value as it helps determine if I need to wear a tie. I also understand that journalism and the sale of newspapers/magazines require some photos. But I'm with Don- photos aren't helping, pretty much ever. Dining is a full 3d/in time/all senses experience. To take a small sliver of that experience as a proxy for the overall is as pointless as handing someone a cup of sand and telling them how wonderful your vacation was.

interesting....

so to extend this argument, does this mean that restaurants shouldn't post photos of their dishes on their website or anywhere else because it may be detrimental to the diners experience?  with instagram these days, many chefs post their own photos of their dishes.  of course, a lot of places still hire professional photographers.  generally, i prefer the former's photos but mostly because professionals tend to over stylize and fuss with the dishes too much.  plus, a chef taking a photo is indicative to me of a certain pride in and appreciation of that particular dish or the ingredients they used.

given the number of restaurants whose menus consist of a list of ingredients and no information otherwise, i find photos provide helpful  information regarding the preparation and approach of the kitchen/chef/restaurant.  especially with modern or new american cuisine.  sure, i can't anticipate what the dish will actually taste like or what the overall dining experience will be; but i can always appreciate plating and glean a certain aesthetic based on photos.

if a reviewer takes photos of the sames dishes that the chef took photos of and posted on their website, is that really any different in the outcome for the audience?  or is it all about the intent of the photographer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will never forget the first time I heard a cell phone go off at a Michelin three-star restaurant - it was at Marc Veyrat, and the ringtone was the Bach B-Minor BadinerieAt the time, it was actually funny; in the past fifteen-or-so years, the 74,000 *other* times I've experienced it have grown wearisome.

hmmm.....and I will never forget in the earlier days of mobile phones visiting an office of some competitors and seeing one of the principals going to the men's room with what would now be described as a big old clunky cell phone.     Yikes!!!!!

Currently Pinterest is an overwhelmingly popular website completely devoted to pictures.  Twitter only recently started highlighting pictures and I happen to see them all the time now.  Their popularity exploded in a very short time.  More and more new apps feature pictures.  They are overwhelmingly popular, common place and the norm.  "Selfies" is now a main stream phrase.  I can't list the endless variation of new apps that feature photography.

Technology has changed dramatically and it changes norms.  I've always been a lousy non creative photographer but I appreciate great photography.

Its also interesting to see how different people react to different stimuli;  some relish creative writing, some videos, some photographs, etc.

I find great photographs whet my appetite.  Kudo's to the photographers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm perfectly fine with the use of photographs for things other than a review.

So for instance, on a menu - at that point, I'm in a restaurant and experiencing most of the sensations of the experience.  The pictures might help me know the proportion of the ingredients (is this mostly a rice dish, or is a little bit of rice swimming in the rest of the dish?) or help me choose based on other things I see.

And as the owner of a restaurant, you'll need to "sell" the restaurant via print and online media - where 5 words might be too many but a picture might get me salivating.  It also conveys information about the formality and "vibe" of your place.  If I owned a restaurant I'd very much include dish photos on my website.

I'm cool with all that and no, I would not extend the argument beyond pictures used in a review.  To clarify, by review I mean a restaurant guest who wishes to explain their visit to someone else.  In this particular use, I believe what I said above - that pictures, no matter how artful, don't really do justice to a review, even a pedestrian one.

To answer your last question - I don't believe it has to do with the intent of the author/photographer, rather the context of its use.   So let's use the McDonald's approach:  There's a photograph of a Big Mac, and

- McDonald's puts it on a billboard with "Exit 46" and nothing else.

- I write a review of my trip to McDonalds and the meal I had, including a Big Mac.

The McDonald's ad makes me salivate and I pull in.  The photo has worked very well.  But the review should be telling me what the place is like, how it compares to other McDonald's, whether I enjoyed my meal, the service, the ambiance, etc.  I don't think a Big Mac photo, in the review, is doing a whole lot to add to the review, since at its root, a review is opinions of an experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To answer your last question - I don't believe it has to do with the intent of the author/photographer, rather the context of its use.   So let's use the McDonald's approach:  There's a photograph of a Big Mac, and

- McDonald's puts it on a billboard with "Exit 46" and nothing else.

- I write a review of my trip to McDonalds and the meal I had, including a Big Mac.

The McDonald's ad makes me salivate and I pull in.  The photo has worked very well.  But the review should be telling me what the place is like, how it compares to other McDonald's, whether I enjoyed my meal, the service, the ambiance, etc.  I don't think a Big Mac photo, in the review, is doing a whole lot to add to the review, since at its root, a review is opinions of an experience.

It might be quite relevant to include a photo of your Big Mac if it looks significantly different from the photos used to promote the sale of the item.  Serious Eats does this all the time with their reviews of fast food places.  What's surprising is when the actual item bears a close resemblance to the highly stylized ad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All good discussion, but missing the point.  Don wrote:

photographs... purloin a bit more of the chef's intellectual property than makes me comfortable.

Which suggests, by extension, that to photograph anything is to purloin the creator's "intellectual property".  So if I take a picture of a lovely garden, I've slighted the landscape architect who designed it, or the laborers who planted it?  If a post a photo of the Fallingwater, I've sullied the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright?

I took a few pictures of my nephew and his bride last weekend.  Did I offend her dressmaker?  Or hairdresser?

It's preposterous.  It's an argument against pictorial representation of any object.

I'd like to read Don's explanation.  I expect (hope) it was just hyperbole.

How about this:

"photographs deny future diners the numerous joys of self-discovery"

So, Don, I shouldn't read Troilus and Cressida because I might see it on stage someday, and then it would be ruined.  Right?

I'd better not watch any more Olympics coverage 'cause someday I'd really love to see slopestyle for myself.

Damn, I was just listening to a version of Sing Sing Sing.  I never got to hear Benny Goodman perform, I feel like a sinner for listening to a recording of him.

:wacko:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's preposterous.  It's an argument against pictorial representation of any object. 

Well it's *certainly* not preposterous. Try recording a play sometime, and see how fast you're (literally) ushered out of the theater.

Second sentence = Post hoc ergo prompter hoc, or some variant thereof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha, I was editing my little rant whilst you were replying...  don't confuse legality with preposterousness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha, I was editing my little rant whilst you were replying...  don't confuse legality with preposterousness.

Why is filming a play illegal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Second sentence = Post hoc ergo prompter hoc, or some variant thereof.

I don't see that at all.  There's no aspect of causality in my argument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is funny, we're stepping on each other.  I could be wrong, I assumed there were copyright laws or some such with respect to recording of live performances.  Usually there's a note in the program to the effect "recording of this performance by any means is expressly prohibited"; I assumed if that statement were made it could be backed up legally (a silly assumption).

I'm going back to watching the 'lympics now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see that at all.  There's no aspect of causality in my argument.

That's why I said "some variant thereof." Don says this, therefore, it's obvious that he means THIS!

Fine, then: Extrapolatio Falsifico

How about this:

"photographs deny future diners the numerous joys of self-discovery"

So, Don, I shouldn't read Troilus and Cressida because I might see it on stage someday, and then it would be ruined.  Right?

I'd better not watch any more Olympics coverage 'cause someday I'd really love to see slopestyle for myself.

Damn, I was just listening to a version of Sing Sing Sing.  I never got to hear Benny Goodman perform, I feel like a sinner for listening to a recording of him.

:wacko:

SPOILER ALERT (mouse-over!):

Bruce Willis was actually dead, and Kevin Spacey was winging the entire story.

There's a big difference between a pleasant drive in the country and a rush-hour slog to get to work. You can read a Shakespeare play ten times, and it gets better every time - the more you know of it, the more you'll take away from it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The recent episode about Yelp is amazing and I think many here will appreciate it.  And probably several will be offended but that's life.

Contains Spoilers:

"'South Park' is Right: Yelp Has Made Us All Jerks" by Bre Payton on thefederalist.com

You know what I can't stand about photo-obsessives? They've made people like me - who take photos at restaurants perhaps once a year, during birthdays, special occasions, etc. (*) - look like them. Remember how, ten years ago, you might feel a *little* funny about asking your server to take a photo of your party, but not like a complete imbecile? Sigh, those were the days.

(*) Okay, okay, because of what I do, I sneak a quick photo of the menu every now and then as a memory aid, but I'm discrete and quick! :rolleyes:

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taking pictures at Makoto is apparently welcome.

Mobile Devices - Mobile/Cell phone ringers must be turned off.  Please do not make or take any phone calls once inside our dining room. Texting, browsing & taking photos are welcome. The use of portable computing devices such as tablets and laptops are strictly prohibited.

Perfume or cologne, not so much.

Please do consider the amount of perfume or cologne you wear as they can be intrusive to others dinning with you and can alter the taste of the food.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...