Hot Restaurant Trend: Food Photography by Customers

 In Bar Promotion

Consider this hypothetical situation: You are at your favorite restaurant celebrating your grandmother’s 86th birthday with your extended family and the customers at the table next to you are incessantly snapping photographs of their meal with the flash on, nonetheless. Does this bother you? Do you even notice it at all? Do you simply ignore the distraction because you want to enjoy your evening?

Whatever your reaction may be, smart phones equipped with cameras have facilitated an increase in the documentation of any and all encounters with food. Moreover, with the incessant rise and prevalence of social media platforms in today’s marketplace, people find it enjoyable to document their each and every move and immediately share it with their network of family and friends. Whether the image is a simple ice cream sundae or a Pic Stitch collage of a five-course meal, our technologically entrenched generation loves to upload and share photographs.

The following infographic breaks down specific reasons people share photographs of food on social media sites:

While some restaurants not only allow, but also encourage mid-dining photography, others ban the use of cameras completely. This site highlights a CBS news spot video clip that addresses the growing food photography phenomenon and restaurants that have adopted a strict ban on the use of photography.

Insight from an Expert

To gain an inside scoop, we interviewed Catherine Murray, owner of Photo Kitchen, in Columbus, Ohio because she has experience with and a deep understanding of both the restaurant and photography world.

Q: Do you think more restaurants will adopt a strict ‘no photography’ policy as social media platforms become more central and prevalent in our daily lives? Or do you think it depends heavily on the type of establishment?

A: I don’t see why they would unless the number of customers complaining outweighs the number of customers taking photos. I’d imagine most restaurants don’t mind blog posts, Yelp reviews, and Instagram updates about them.

Q: Should there be a rule of thumb for uploading or posting photos? Such as it’s something unique, informational, etc.? Do you often upload pictures of your meals?

A: I just hope people remember to use it for good, not evil. If you wouldn’t share it directly with the restaurant owner, you might want to leave it off the Internet. The world of camera phones and social media inherently means we can share anything. Who knows what’s going to resonate with someone else? We choose who to follow and what to look at. Some of the most seemingly insignificant posts I’ve made have been the most popular. I DO share photos of my meals! Not usually on a professional level, but on my personal page. Food is a huge part of my life, I love to share what I’m eating and cooking. It’s a subject everyone can relate to and everyone has an opinion about. Just ask someone if they love or hate coconut, I bet you can get them talking forever.

Q: Do you take professional, client-based photographs during regular restaurant business hours? If so, how receptive are other customers?

A: Capturing the dining experience is part of my job, so I often work during the beginning or end of business hours. I stay out of the way of the customers and staff as much as possible, but yes, my DSLR stands out. There is always a photo enthusiast ready to talk shop, and there are occasionally people who are annoyed by the process. Mostly I think they’re concerned about being in the photo. I’m quick to reassure them that they don’t have to be in the photos. The managers help smooth ruffled feathers, but usually the customers are curious and excited about having a photographer in the midst.

Q: Some restaurants welcome and actually encourage photography of customers’ meals, while others completely ban the use of cameras in their establishment. What is your perspective on this? Is it distracting to snap pictures while dining?

A: I love how everyone’s joined in on the fun of photographing their food. Food brings people together. Why shouldn’t the experience be shared beyond the table? That said, just like every other part of a technology-driven society, there is etiquette. I would never complain about a restaurant banning photography. I get it. The world’s gone a little crazy. I’ve read a lot of articles about this and the comments that follow. People are insulted that a restaurant would take away their “right” to take photos. There was a time we didn’t need to do this. We can go back to that for the occasional meal. It’s the right of the restaurant to instill their own rules, just as they do dress codes and minimum credit card purchases.

About Catherine Murray

Catherine Murray began her career in a small sandwich deli where she had her hands in almost every piece of the business, which set her up for success in running her own company in the future. Murray spent seven years in the restaurant industry before pursuing her love of photography. She drew inspiration from her love of food and photography to leverage herself in a career that she is truly passionate about.

The ideation behind the creation of Photo Kitchen began simply as a freelancing photography opportunity. Unbeknownst to Murray, this seemingly simple endeavor would launch itself into a full-fledged, thriving business.

Catherine’s perfect Sunday afternoon consists of snuggling up with her two cats, Ava and Maddy, watching Girlmore Girls reruns while chowing down on Northstar’s famous burger and a cold, crisp Ginger Ale.

Visit Food Kitchen’s website to learn more about the services offered, clients served, portfolio work and more. Follow Photo Kitchen on Facebook and visit Murray’s blog to find out more information on Photo Kitchen’s Bite-Sized Photo Shoots (see food fight photo below).

What Are Your Thoughts?

Have you encountered any issues, positive or negative, when it comes to customers taking photographs of their food? Do you view it as free publicity, a nuisance or not truly relevant at the time being? We’d love to hear your feedback!

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