Strong opinions, weakly held

Taking pictures in restaurants

I love seeing pictures of dishes served at restaurants on other people’s blogs, but I never take out my camera at restaurants (or even bring my camera to restaurants) because I think that snapping photos at the table would be rude to other diners. I don’t want to draw attention to myself because I’m standing up and leaning over the table with the flash going off. (I don’t see how you can take decent pictures indoors without a flash.)

New York Times restaurant reviewer Frank Bruni brings up photography on his blog today:

Another buzz kill at Ramsay: the photography. I mentioned flash photography in restaurants in a previous blog post, and I mentioned seeing that photography at Ramsay.

In my experience, over the course of many visits, it was especially prevalent there. One night a round of flashes at a corner table lasted several minutes, as different table members rose to take different sets of pictures, and the moment that photo session ended, another photo session began in an opposite corner of the restaurant.

And it was especially disturbing there, given the kind of calm the restaurant is striving for with its deliberate hush, its deliberately subdued palette and more.

Thus my suspicions are confirmed. It’s rude to take pictures at a restaurant, and the nicer the restaurant, the ruder it is. My favorite meals out will have to live on in memory alone.


  1. I hope you watch Kathryn Yu’s Flickr feed. She and Dan eat an amazing amount of fancy food. The brunches are always the most spectacular.

  2. I find it quite easy to take food pictures without a flash. Judging from the photo of the restaurant in Frank Bruni’s blog, there’s plenty of available light for taking photos, given even moderate exposure times.

  3. Yah – when I take food pics in restaurants (which admittedly is not that frequently) I just turn the flash off.

  4. The rule of thumb for good picture taking, especially with point and shoot cameras, is turn off the flash. You camera will generall adjust the exposure and ISO. Then, you get good pictures.

    A time to use a flash would be total darkness, but ideally, when there is plenty of ambient light, but the subject is in shadows, under a tent, etc.

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