Shooting Your Restaurant Meal on the Sly
Pho at Pho Cali, where the owner was thrilled to have her food photographed, but that's not always the case.
CREDIT: Leslie Meredith
Some restaurants are clamping down on diners who take photos of their food. The New York Times this week reported a trend in some upscale restaurants of prohibiting cameras (or at least the use of a flash, which can irritate other diners).
However, not all restaurant owners object. Not too long ago I was creating my first bowl of Pho, a popular Vietnamese soup, at a small family-run restaurant in Salt Lake City. As I was snapping photos with my iPhone, the owner came over to see the pictures. She wanted to be sure I sent her copies.
She even "liked" the photos on Instagram .
You never know how restaurant staff will react, and many people think it's just plain rude to take pictures of your meal. I've since learned to resist the temptation to capture a beautiful dish when dining out with my children, who are the most critical of my shoot-and-share-to-Instagram habit. But I've also learned a few tricks to make picture-taking less noticeable when they're not around.
Here are tips to take discreet photos with your phone when dining out:
- Stay seated. If you stand up to take a photo from above — an angle that many professional food photographers use — you'll only draw attention to yourself.
- Likewise, don't rearrange the plates to make a more attractive composition or get closer to the window for natural light. Ask for a table by a window and shoot your food before the table becomes cluttered.
- Turn off your flash.
- Turn off the camera sound that simulates the click of a shutter. In quiet settings, it's a dead giveaway. To do this on an iPhone, use the switch above the volume buttons to turn your phone on silent mode. You can silence your Android in the same way or turn just the shutter sound off in your camera settings. (Some carriers have disabled this feature.)
- If you are really worried about getting chastised for shooting your food, you might try the Stalker app , available for $1.99 in the App Store. You can set it to take a sequence of photos while it displays a dummy screen, such as your email app, to make it look as though you're doing something other than taking photos.