Editor's Note: Mark Hill is Director of Photography for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. He's very worth following on Instagram @photomark16
I read an article in the New York Times Dining section last week that filled me with dismay. Helene Stapinski wrote an intriguing piece discussing restaurants that ban photography because it’s a disruption of the dining experience.
But wait, am I really a bummer just because I love shooting my beautifully prepared food before digging in?
But many chefs feel otherwise, so I turned to the person closest to me for his opinion, my brother, David Hill. His restaurant, The Chef’s Table in Rocklin, California (no relation to the restaurant of the same name in the New York Times article) serves wonderful food, but his place is small. So small, in fact, that any rude person could affect everyone’s dining experience.
David agreed with the premise of the article, but has not banned photography. “To me, any rude behavior from flash photography, loud drunken parties, to taking phone calls at the table should end," he said. " All hurt everyone’s ability to enjoy the food that I have prepared.”
In the spirit of harmony, I feel it necessary to draw up a few guidelines to help keep the peace. Most chefs will tolerate your desire to record the plate that is set in front of you. With some restraint, these tips can help you avoid the icy glares from the kitchen and perhaps a well-placed fork in your viewfinder.
1. Please, no flash! Nothing will ruin the intimate mood of a restaurant or a photograph for that matter, like a bright on-camera flash. If it can’t be done with the existing lighting, put your camera away.
2. Respect the rules. If they ask you not to take pictures, don’t. It’s their establishment after all.
3. Make it fast. One or two frames should do. No one wants to see you make a production of the photography.
4. Most importantly, don’t impact other diners’ enjoyment of their meal. Don’t ask others to wait so you can shoot their plate. Don’t stand on your chair (really?). Remember you are there to eat and enjoy the company of your tablemates, not expand your photography portfolio.
Are you a restaurant picture taker or are you actively opposed? Get snapping in the comments below.
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