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Should You Be Allowed to Take Photos in Restaurants?

Star chef David Chang is causing a stir in the food-blog world. If you manage to get a reservation at his new restaurant Momofuku Ko, be prepared to leave your camera at home. According to Chang's new no-photography rule, diners will no longer be able to snap pics of luscious pork products or tasty eats (although the rule is not enforced at his larger sister restaurants).

As an avid foodie photographer — my friends know to let me take photos before we dig in — I find this disappointing. I take pictures of food so I can relive it later and share it with you. I make sure to turn the flash off, never interrupt other diners, and work as quickly as possible. Hearing that it's banned in a place where so few folks can dine really bums me out. If I can't eat there, I want to live vicariously through someone else.

What do you guys think? Do you think Chang, who says, "It's just food. Eat it," is on the right path, or should diners be able to take photos at restaurants?

Ultress Ultress 9 years
changs reading too much of his own press. get over yo-self. there are those of us still remember how momofuku ssam sat empty for months on end (or was it closer to over a year?) until the PR machine kicked in. nothin gets done in this city without PR so get over yourself and appreciate that diners love your well publicized grub enough to whip out the camera-better than having your joints open but empty, RIGHT? dang...shrink that big head of yours and return to reality.
allinavhcnerf allinavhcnerf 9 years
i love food photography! i like remembering what i ate.
calamari calamari 9 years
ashleylynne brings up some interesting points. If we are going to start treating restaurants and art galleries the same way, then chefs need to issue press-images of their food that have been approved for use in blogs, magazines, etc. Art galleries distribute these kinds of images for all their shows. Many small galleries have these images available to download on their website. Maybe chefs could post these images on the restaurant's site.
ashleylynne ashleylynne 9 years
If you believe that high-end cuisine is an artform, then of course you're not going to want anyone to take pictures of your art. Would you go into a small gallery where artists have their paintings on display and take photos of it so you could put it online? Probably not. And if you did, you'd probably get contacted by the artist to take it down. So not allowing people take photos of your "food art" isn't so weird. Is it good for marketing and PR? No. The more that your art gets out there, the more demand is generated for it, and more people will come to buy it. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And if he's afraid of others stealing his presentation, well it could just be a challenge for him to be more creative and come up with new ones.
phosphene phosphene 9 years
I agree with him completely. Snapping pictures not only ruins the ambience for other diners, but if half of your brain is thinking about taking pictures and what you are going to say about it on your blog later you are not in the moment enjoying the food. Unfortunately it seems there is a trend for people to go to well known or expensive places and collect pictures of their food like stamps or boyscout badges rather than just being there for the experience. And finally, I just don't see the point. Yes, presentation is a part of enjoying food, but to me only a very very small part. I know a lot of people talk about how they love to look at these pictures but I just don't identify. I read food blogs for the recipes, ideas, and techniques, NOT pictures.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
He doesn't want you recreating it at home and the picture would not only remind you to do it but remind you what exactly you're recreating. Also it is his product and he has a right to not have photos of it online.
skiwi skiwi 9 years
Even though I personally have a pet peeve against people who snap photographs of their food at restaurants, I think its okay to take 1 or 2 pictures of a dish that's AMAZING. but some people go way overboard and take pictures of every single dish! and that annoys me.
Twinkle1 Twinkle1 9 years
If you're paying for a meal you should be able to do what you want with it. He sounds like an ass.
danixk danixk 9 years
I don't take a camera to dinner for 'food fotos'.. It's normally to take snapshots of the evening of me and whoever I'm with.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
If other restaurants are intent on copying a chef's work, they can do it without cameras. He'd have to ban notepads and sketchbooks, too. Also, there is such a thing as hidden cameras, which people who do commercial espionage would have, unlike your average photo enthusiast, who'd have a huge-ass camera you can't possibly miss. Anyway, I don't even notice cameras at restaurants unless there's a flash. And even then, it's brief enough not to be a real bother.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Good point Rancher. It comes across as a little insecure.
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 9 years
It might be copied but his presentation would still be the original...on the other hand, it also smacks of arrogance and elitism. I might try to duplicate the dish at home, just to repeat a fine meal that is part of a wonderful memory but it certainly would never be as nicely done as his, so what is there for him to be concerned about?
seraphimm seraphimm 9 years
What are his reasons? if it's to secure his original ideas, then WHY NOT? I hate it when people plagiarize ideas from my research papers and claim it as their own. Why is food any different? It takes more than a few dashes of salt to create a dish worth putting on the menu. I think people need to respect that. I love taking pictures of food by the way, but I think this chef is just taking precautions. If he set this rule just because he's annoyed by people taking pictures of their dinner plates, then BOO! Pinkberry, Yogurtland, Frozos... all have no-photography rules too. I heard it was to protect others from stealing interior design ideas and yogurt machines.
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 9 years
to tell you the truth, i think he is a tad arrogant for assuming people would take a picture to intentionaly copy his presentation. ANYONE could dine at the restaurant, not like the food is a big secret...
Mmmarshmallow Mmmarshmallow 9 years
I love taking photos of food in restaurants - I write about the meal on my food blog, never mind when travelling I want to be able to show family and friends the type of cuisine I indulged in. And given that food doesn't fall under copyright protection (and as a result, food is the most creative industry - moreso than film, music, art, and literature), I'm a bit flummoxed as to why he's so precious about people taking photos of their meals. People have brazenly served Gordon Ramsay's recipes in their restaurants, and there is nothing that Ramsay can do to stop them, other than continuing to be creative and move with the times to keep business coming into his restaurants. It's definitely a turn off.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i can understand why he would enforce that rule - but i think that it depends on what you're taking a picture of. say you're out with a group of friends and you want to capture the evening, you should be able to snap a picture or 2. i guess it's one of those rules that someone will have to enforce with an iron fist.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I mean, especially when I go to restaurants that cost an arm and a leg and are truly an experience, I need the pictures to remind me how much fun I had because I have a bad memory. I think if anything, looking back at the pictures makes me want to go again, because it refreshes my memory of how good it was.
SugarFreak SugarFreak 9 years
So I love to take pictures of my dishes, however, I rarely do because I get very self-conscious. Most of the time, when I do, other patrons give me the stink eye if I have my flash on. I can't help it though since most restaurants are dim-lit! I guess I can understand, but BOOOOOOOOO!
girlrunner girlrunner 9 years
The only reason I can think of is that I know chefs get pissed off if they invent a creative presentation and then, shortly thereafter, other restaurants start copying the menu item and/or presentation of the food.
jesser80 jesser80 9 years
I can't understand this at all and it just turns me off to going to this guy's restaurant. I've added more than one restaurant to my "must visit" list just because of photos and a review from a blog. I think it's great PR! And if my fellow diner was taking a photo of his food, I doubt that I'd even notice let alone be bothered by it. This guy needs to chill ... as do many people who have these stupid no photography rules.
ameliajc ameliajc 9 years
if it's just food to be eaten, then why all the attention to presentation? and if some big time magazine comes in to review he would probably let them take pictures. therefore, i don't understand why food bloggers can't take pictures. (also, if i'm paying for my food, i think i should be able to do whatever i want with it.)
calamari calamari 9 years
Ridiculous. "It's just food. Eat it," is not even a reason not to let people take pictures. Come on David, what are you so insecure about?
kea718 kea718 9 years
I wonder how many people he's seen taking pictures of the food in his life to come up with a rule against it....
buttafli2112 buttafli2112 9 years
if its not hurting/bothering anyone i dont see why not.. i can understand if your vocation correlates with taking pictures, then you should be able to especially
o0Riptide0o o0Riptide0o 9 years
My question for his policy is that is it just for food or lets say someone is having a birthday, you cant take pictures in his restaurant of that either?
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