EphemeraFood Writing

To Snap or Not to Snap?: Rules for Foodie Photo Sharing

By on April 17, 2013 12:30pm EST

instagram is down describe your lunchThere’s a new trend in writing these days brought to us by the great folks behind smart phones.  With photo apps galore, it seems it’s easier than ever to snap a few shots to accompany articles on just about everything under the sun (and sometimes, to include the sun). And with accompanying filters, crops, borders, and text, a great deal of these snapshots look better than some (definitely not all) professional photographs. I recently read about an artist who is only using an iPhone with oodles of photography apps to create his works of art and is selling these masterpieces for serious cash.

With all this technology, literally at our fingertips, comes the age old question for those of us who love food: Should we be using this technology in restaurants? It’s often a gamble, I find. Before you snap, you should always weigh the pros and cons. On one had, you can make your friends and family jealous of the remarkable meal you’re consuming at some five-star haunt. On the other hand, you run the risk of upsetting the maitre-d at said five-start haunt by annoying the high-class patrons. While you’ll need to decide for yourself, I follow a few rules of my own. In the end, though, I usually choose not to snap at all. But then again, I’m a bit of a wimp.

1. Chain restaurants are off limits. It must be said that no one really cares about the Big Mac and fries you enjoyed for lunch. All of these “meals” tend to look exactly alike in every big chain across the country, so there’s nothing to gain from wasting precious memory space on your phone or sharing it with your numerous followers. Also, if for some reason, you absolutely must see a snapshot of a Big Mac before you decide between it or some chicken nuggets, you can view it on your menu. The beauty of all chains and fast food spots: pictures on the menu!  Someone’s already done the hard work, so you don’t have to.

2. The least obtrusive you can be the better. Point and shoots and iPhones are perfect for quick shots. While most of us can’t seem to create high-quality images with these tools, they do the trick in a pinch. The last thing you want to see in a posh restaurant is a light box and a DSLR with a 5′ lens. Not to mention, if you’re wasting that much time taking the photograph, the beautiful dish whose photo you wish to cherish for all eternity is going to be cold by the time you get to enjoy it.

3. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see others admonished for taking photos, don’t try to do the same thing three minutes later. It’s just rude! Some chefs and restaurant owners would prefer not to have photos taken of their food or their establishment. It’s often annoying, but it’s their prerogative. In this case, the customer is not always right. The more you respect their wishes, the more they’ll want to dazzle you with their food and service.

4. Always credit the photos correctly. With the invention of Twitter, everyone knows everything about everyone else. Your chef may just be following you. The last thing he/she wants to see after he’s/she’s slaved over the meal you’ve just eaten is: “Some potato thing from Restaurant X- Yum!”  I promise you, the “yum” doesn’t make it less of an insult.

5. Last but certainly not least: Don’t be that person. You know the one I’m talking about. That person posts pictures of every single morsel of food they’ve consumed since the dawn of Facebook, often adding hipster filters to the photos to show off just how artsy they are. Even die-hard food people don’t care. We’d rather be eating it ourselves than seeing your food in our feed.

If all else fails, and you fall into the same nervous Nelly category as me, you can try my down-low move. I’m sure you know the one. Pretend you’re reading an enthralling text message.  While doing so, take a quick and silent snap when no one is looking.  But I will warn you, most of these covert works of art will be crooked or of the back of the head of the guy sitting at the next table.  Mine usually are.


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Kristen Price

Kristen Price spends most of her time teaching technology to those who understand it only slightly less than she does. Follow her adventures in reading, blogging, crafting and eating at Single Girl Seeks Adventure.