Should food porn and smartphone photography be banned at restaurants?

When you’re dining out at restaurants these days, seeing someone take photos of their food with a smartphone is almost unavoidable. “Food porn”, as these photos are often called on social media, is more popular than ever.

A number of restaurateurs and chefs in France, however, are striking back. According to an article in the Telegraph, at least one is hoping to introduce a ban on cameraphones and amateur food photography at his three Michelin-starred restaurant.

“If people take a photo and put it out on social media, it takes away the surprise," Gilles Goujon, the chef at L'Auberge du Vieux Puits stated to Midi Libre newspaper.

"A photo taken on an average smartphone is rarely a great image. It doesn't give the best impression of our work. It's annoying,” he added.

Another chef interviewed in the article noted that oftentimes, flash photography at the restaurant distracted other diners.

In North America, tensions between people that work in the restaurant industry and customers snapping food photos has also been rising.

In a 2011 article in the Georgia Straight, several Vancouver restaurateurs and chefs criticized the use of social media. When asked about the power of food bloggers and diners who voiced complaints through social media, Julio Gonzalez-Perini, owner and executive chef at Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca, told the Straight, “The power they have on the Internet is amazing. They can ruin people’s livelihoods.”

Recently, on Twitter, Chambar restaurant tweeted, “#petpeeve ‘If you're not a photographer, stop taking pictures & posting to social media’. P.S. Savour your meal & company instead."

Other local restaurant owners, however, have stated that the popularity of restaurant food photography didn’t bother them.

“I like it when people upload photos. I think that’s kind of cool,” restaurant owner Patti Lombardo told the Straight in a 2011 article. Sean Heather, owner of the Heather Hospitality Group, also said that he often looked at customer photos to check portion sizes at his restaurants.

Restaurants in the Lower Mainland have yet to ban smartphone photography, but prohibiting cellphone use may be an easier way to approach the subject. In 2012, a California-based restaurant encouraged customers to check their cellphones at the door for a discount off their dining bill.

“It's about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone,” restaurant owner Mark Gold told Southern California Public Radio. “We're trying to create an ambience where you come in and really enjoy the experience and the food and the company."

Would you support a ban on cellphone photography at restaurants? Do you love or loath food porn? Sound off in the comments section below. Also, what about a ban on babies at fine-dining restaurants?

Comments (12) Add New Comment
Sheila
I don't think there's anything wrong with taking photos at a restaurant, just 1) don't have flash on, 2) prevent other people from eating THEIR food because you want to take photos of their dish from every angle, and 3) have your phone out the entire time. I like taking photos of my food if it's an interesting/unique experience, especially if it's something I don't have often (or never).
21
11
Rating: +10
GregEh
If French cuisine doesn't want to be photographed, they should stop being so wanky with the plating and presentation.
20
10
Rating: +10
mg
I can see flash photography being disruptive to other patrons. I wouldn't want people taking pictures of me or my guests either. If your taking photos of your own food and you are not using flash I can't see it being an issue. Telling people they can't do this is only going to fuel the fans of bad restaurant reviews.
14
8
Rating: +6
KH-555
“It's about two people sitting together and just connecting, without the distraction of a phone,”

All I am hearing in this quote - and the rest of these restaurateurs - is "my way of enjoying life is the right way, and so we're banning anyone from doing anything different".

Actually, given the history of French dining, I am not even slightly surprised.
15
6
Rating: +9
cathy
Restaurant food porn photo takers-hate to tell you this but nobody is interested in what you are eating except you and maybe your mother.

Please stop annoying people and grow up.

13
13
Rating: 0
Europe
They already have cellphone free clubs and bars in Europe as it is deemed "low class" to bust out the ol' socially awkward safety net device in places where you're socializing.

10
3
Rating: +7
Ds
I don't know why some restaurants are complaining about people taking pictures of their dishes, it's free advertising! Often I see my friend's food pictures on my Instagram feed and even though they aren't photographers it makes me want to try that restaurant! I like seeing pictures of food and people's opinion about that restaurant so that it would make my decision easier on whether I should eat there or not. Restaurant owners shouldn't take offence, rather they should take the criticism and make their restaurant better. It's the opinion of the customer that matter anyway.
13
9
Rating: +4
Brook
I often take photos of my meals and post them to let friends know where I am at. I don't use flash but people take photos of each other using flash when they are having a night out, what's the difference? Don't worry, if your food is bad I won't be taking a picture of it.
10
8
Rating: +2
Rita
If I'm having a meal with someone and they're constantly texting or tweeting, they're going to wind up with their food on their heads. Take your Ritalin children and try to concentrate on the people you are with. Stop playing with your food and grow up.
9
9
Rating: 0
Rose
I personally don't care if other diners take photos of their food or not. However, if you are taking photos of yourself, friends or food on a night out, please crop out anyone else you happen to get in the background of the shot before posting it on social media. I am surprised at how many of my friends leave perfect strangers in the photo and I think it's an invasion of their privacy. I know wouldn't like my photo posted on the twitter, instagram or facebook wall of someone I don't know.
5
6
Rating: -1
Graham
What the heck does porn have to do with pictures of food?
It's not food porn - it's just pictures of food. Sheesh, that's ridiculous.
3
3
Rating: 0
adam gee
People are way too attached to their phones. Put them away when ur supposed to be enjoying a meal.
6
4
Rating: +2
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.