Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Flash mob

Restaurants in New York are getting so pissed off with diners taking photos of their food and annoying other customers that some of them have banned photography altogether.

Diners think nothing of taking constant flash photos, putting camera tripods on tables, and standing on chairs to snap their meals from above. Other diners complain about their selfish behaviour and the way they intrude on other people’s conversation and enjoyment.

Sometimes they anger their dining companions as well. One woman complained that when she eats out with her father he takes endless photos of the food but never takes photos of his family. And they can’t start eating until he’s finished with his camera.

The photographers of course can’t see what the fuss is about. They say their pics are a tribute to the food and the chef, as well as free advertising for the restaurants. They say they just want to share their pleasure with friends.

Fortunately this photo-fetish doesn’t seem to have spread to Belfast yet. It’s still possible to enjoy a meal out without half the diners wanting to record the meals for posterity – or their Facebook friends. People are happy to enjoy what’s on their plate and leave it at that.

It’s a very modern syndrome that people feel free to do something that is obviously inconsiderate to others, and be oblivious to the angry glares and muttered protests. Even if the photo shows little but a shapeless heap of something-or-other, they’re still intent on recording it.

And in between all the fancy camerawork, do they actually enjoy the food? Or are they too busy weighing up different camera angles for the next course to appreciate the delicate flavours of whatever they’re eating?

What are all these clever photos even conveying? They can’t reproduce the actual taste of these sumptuous dishes, only what they looked like. All they can do is make people envious of the diners and their haute cuisine. But perhaps that’s the whole idea.

19 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Yes this fetish has hit NL too, I am still amazed when people post pics of dinners in a restaurant.

But I have to admit I've posted pics of meals I have made when they are a little exotic. Guilty.

but what truly astounds me are the constant video/photo takers at places like Cape St. Mary's with its millions of seabirds. Do these people never just sit and enjoy what's around them?

I think not.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Oh well, pics of your own meals, that's a bit different, you're not disrupting a restaurant! Yes, why not just enjoy watching the seabirds? The odd pic maybe, but twenty or thirty? What's the point?

Bijoux said...

Interesting. I have never seen this done, and this is a fairly foodie town with a couple of famous chefs. I can see if someone is being obnoxious about it, taking a half dozen shots, but otherwise, I don't think it's a big deal. A public place entitles one to snap photos, whether you are at the park, in a restaurant or in a store.

Grannymar said...

I once took a photo in a restaurant, in Belfast. It was of a dessert made especially for me, we were in a quiet corner, and I did ask permission.


Nick said...

Bijoux: Well, yes, photos are allowable in a public place, but I think some consideration for other people is called for.

Grannymar: I can't see any objection to that! You weren't causing any nuisance to anyone.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I've taken photos of my meal in a restaurant (for my blog) but with my phone and without a flash. No one would even know unless they happened tobe staring at me (in which case, that person would be the rude one). In general, I think the rule is that you conduct yourself in a way that doesn't disrupt other's enjoyment. So makein ga big production of a photo, rearranging furniture and so on are out. But taking a picture unobtrusively in a public place is no one's business.

Nick said...

Agent: I agree, taking a pic unobtrusively without disturbing others is fine. It's making a big song and dance about it that's objectionable.

Ursula said...

Nick, sorry, can't help myself reading your reply to Secret Agent: The only person making a "song and dance" over some totally irrelevant diners in New York is you.

What's for dinner?

U

Nick said...

Ursula: A personal opinion, I guess, whether something's interesting or "totally irrelevant". I find selfish and anti-social behaviour quite intriguing myself.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

I have taken pictures of food. I've taken pictures of restaurant interiors, too. What I don't do is more than one or two flash pictures, and only then if it's a special family occasion - like my mother's 90th birthday. Those pics are some of the last anyone has of her and it's great to look back and see how happy she was.

I also take dozens of pictures of scenery and so on - it's because photography is one of my hobbies and I'm not very good at it. If I knew I'd got a great shot or two after half dozen, I might stop there!

But you're right, of course, and even I get annoyed when other diners are constantly flash-flash-flashing. It's intrusive and annoying and shows an appalling lack of consideration. I don't taken flash pictures at concerts, either, which I think is the height of rudeness. To me, it's OK to sneak a NON-flash pic or two before the performance, but once it begins, really, the camera should go away. If you must, an unobtrusive shot or two without flash and without standing up or getting in anyone's way is probably not a problem, but most people don't show so much consideration, do they? And what earthly use is flash anyway, when the stage is hundreds of yards away?

Nick said...

Jay: I don't see anything wrong with taking photos if it's done discreetly and unobtrusively. But the in-your-face antics of certain diners are clearly getting on people's tits.

Eryl said...

I take photographs of everything! But I do do it very quietly, without flash, and without, I hope, anyone being disturbed. One thing I'll say, waiters become very much friendlier when I get my camera out. I was once in a posh cafe where the waiter looked at, and spoke to, me as if I were an extremely undesirable customer. When he came back with my order I had my camera on the table and his tone changed instantly. Well worth remembering, you don't even have to use it.

The reason I take photos of food is because I love it and am greedy, I want it twice. No, photographs can't reproduce the taste, but if they're good they can capture something of the dish, and convey the emotions of the diner. I've also got some jobs out of taking photos of food in restaurants, and I didn't even have to stand on a chair.

Nick said...

Eryl: That's fascinating that the waiters become super-friendly the moment they see your camera! I must try that tactic myself....

Yes, I'm overstating my case as usual, of course you're right that photos convey something about the meal even if the taste is missing. I mean, don't we all drool over glossy recipe books?

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

Nick, you can come with ideas for your blog posts. Many others post only on food and those sods do need to take photographs to accompany their posts!

Nick said...

Ramana: Well, there's no problem with taking photos of food in general, either in your own kitchen or discreetly in restaurants. What's objected to here is those snap-happy diners who make a total nuisance of themselves.

Elizabeth Harper said...

I will photograph my food at times if it's beautifully done and looks like a picture. That said, I'm an American expat living in Cornwall, England who writes a blog and shares a bit of this and that, sometimes this and that includes food. Readers in other countries have definite opinions about food in the UK and I like to show them that it's not all fish and chips. I do try to do it with as little fuss as possible. I don't use flash and I try to do it quickly as I like to eat it while it's hot.

Nick said...

Elizabeth: Explaining to the world that British food is a lot more than fish and chips is a very worthy aim. And if you take photos discreetly and non-intrusively, I for one would have no complaints.

Val said...

Unaggressive though I am, I'd be tempted to kick said photographers in the whatevers if they did that in any restaurant I was trying to eat in.

Why can't people just enjoy things like they used to - one sensory experience at a time?

Nick said...

Val: I quite agree, why can't people just enjoy their food without having to record it for posterity?