January 23, 2013

No Photography at the Dinner Table


The proliferation of mobile devices and photo enhancing apps such as Instagram has led to one thing we can’t seem to live without: food porn.

People across the globe choose to go out to restaurants for a number of reasons; the food, the ambience, the experience or just simply a night out with good company. What they don’t usually opt for, but end up getting, is a room full of food paparazzi.

Let’s rewind a little bit and explore the motivating factors behind all of this food photography. Social media plays a big role in this growth spurt of restaurant photography. We love to share aspects of our lives across social media platforms, and delicious-looking food tops the list of what we like to share and look at.

In fact, it’s the No. 1 category of content on social pinning site Pinterest, where 57 percent of Pinterest users interact with food-related content.  Pinterest gives us inspiration for amazing recipes, Foursquare lets us find restaurants, and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow us to share the experience.

Image via Webstagram

As always, companies from different industries need to adapt to technology, as it evolves and shapes our everyday lives, and restaurants are no different. Restaurants are opting to approach the popularity of mobile photo-taking in one of three ways.

1.       No Photography Allowed

In spite of the growth of photography at restaurants, The New York Times reports that several NYC restaurants have banned photography of dishes. For example, Moe Issa, the owner of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, banned photography several months after opening when it became too much of a distraction to the other diners at his 18-seat restaurant. The New York-based Momofuku Ko charges about $200 per person and prohibits photography. Employees will ask diners to put their phones away and that no photos are allowed, even without flash.

2.       Photography Encouraged

Other restaurants are opting to embrace photography and sharing of photos on social media. A NYC restaurant, Comodo, launched an Instagram menu in October 2012. We all know how hard of a decision it can be to order a meal without having a clue of what it looks like. The Instagram menu is assembled using the #ComodoMenu hashtag and collects photos taken by customers of some of their favorite dishes, including the swordfish ceviche, seared duck breast and poblano pepper pasta.

3.       Leave Your Mobile Device At Home

There are some restaurants that would just love to see customers lose their cell phones altogether. Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles offers a five percent discount for customers that leave their phones with the receptionist for the entirety of the meal. Since the policy went into effect last summer, chef Mark Gold estimates that 40 to 50 percent of customers opt in to ditch their phones.

"Eva is really about family and being at home. That's what we want to exemplify," Gold said in a statement. "We just want people to connect again."

So, another thing to take into consideration before choosing a restaurant for your next meal is whether or not you want to use your phone, take photos of your food and whether it’s even allowed where you’re headed. Bon appétit!




Edited by Allison Boccamazzo



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