The etiquette of the food photograph
5. Keep your camera off the table
The table is a dangerous place for delicate electronics. But more importantly, keeping your camera on the table is a far worse offense than putting your elbows there. Not only does it take up space meant for eating, but it's also a distraction. It's even worse if it's your smartphone and it proceeds to vibrate and light up throughout the meal.
Not only will this make you more courteous, but it will also help prevent you from accidentally leaving it sitting on the able or on the seat next to you.
6. Shoot now, share later
This definitely doesn't have to be on the internet right now.
Instagram and services like that make it seem like you need to share everything immediately, but it's simply not true. Take your food picture, then leave it on the camera and share it later. The light from your screen will be less intrusive and you won't need to rudely stare at your phone ignoring the rest of the people you're with. This isn't limited to smartphone users, either. Tons of cameras have built-in WiFi now, but resist the urge to sign on and share. There's plenty of time for that later.
7. Keep your camera bag out of the way
While a smartphone fits nicely into a pocket, serious cameras often require serious bags that take up lots of space. Checking a bag full of expensive gear can be stressful and setting it on the floor could end up tripping someone. So, your best bet is just to plan ahead and bring the smallest bag possible. If you can comfortably wear it without encroaching on the space of the diner next to you, that's a fine solution. Or, if you have to, make sure it's placed entirely under the table where no one could possibly step on it.
We often think of cameras and their bags as extensions of our bodies. You wouldn't leave your foot sticking out where someone could get hurt by it. You shouldn't leave your camera bag out there either.
8. Kill them with kindness
So, what if you're being as courteous as possible when taking your photo and the restaurant still tells you you're not allowed to shoot? For some people, the next step is to make a scene, but that's often not the best course of action. Be sure to keep an eye out for signs posted forbidding photography. If the rule is right there in front of you, your argument isn't going to be nearly as effective.
If you're truly offended by their photographic restrictions, kindly ask for a manager and calmly explain your viewpoint. It is, after all, a private establishment and they make the rules. Vow to never eat there again and feel free to tell your friends to do the same. Mention it in any online reviews that you might be writing, but by making a scene, you'll only be furthering the idea that photographers are jerks and that's not good for anybody.
9. Don't include other diners
Many people hate having their picture taken and there are few things as unflattering in a photo as a mouthful of food. So, having a camera pointed at you while you're eating is the worst. In order to make food look as good as it can, you should likely be photographing it from an angle at which you'd see it if you were sitting down to eat. This will also help ensure that people around you don't think you're shooting in their direction. Keep your camera on your own plate.
10: Use common sense
Obviously, we support people taking pictures all the time. But, photographers are still people and we exist in the world. If taking a picture seems wildly inappropriate or like it will bother people, it's ultimately up to you whether or not that shot is worth it. If you're at a fast food joint, no one is going to care if you use your flash. If you're the only people in the restaurant, your lit-up screen probably isn't bothering anyone. So use your judgment and don't ruin it for the rest of us.