We’re all guilty of it, the sneaky restaurant snapshot of a good looking dish before we tuck in. But are we going too far when dinner feels more like a vogue photo shoot?
Food Instagramming is a big habit, and for a limited few it’s even turned into a profession. In the restaurant industry its massive social media success shows no sign of abating. At a last count there were almost 150 million photos on Instagram at # food, of which almost half were at #foodporn with some 68 million images posted.
Is there a blurred line between the benefits and the bug bears for a chef at the receiving end of this snap happy social media phenomenon?
We follow up on chef's opinions that include the banning, accepting or embracing of Instagram in their professional lives.
Last year French chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillère famously banned diners from Instagramming in his restaurant. Producing a menu with an image of a camera with a line through it just to make sure the message was clear Gauthier wasn't alone with other French chefs also hitting back at food porn photos in their restaurant.
We also picked up on Heston Blumenthal adopting a strict photo policy in his restaurants in a bid to avoid flash photography in the dining room disturbing other diners.
More recently speaking to The Telegraph one of the few Instagram objectors left, Daniel Galmiche, chef of the Vineyard in Berkshire, UK said “I see chefs doing food only for the photo – open kitchens, trendy crockery, serving on slate and stones – and I’m wondering, should food be like that?”
If you're not into snapping your food before you eat it you might be onto something as one study suggests we'd actually find our meal tastier if we didn't photograph it first.
Recently Thrillist sought the opinions of nearly a dozen of their favourite chefs about customer’s instagramming their food.
Surprisingly laid back responses were given with opinions ranging from positively grateful for the Instagram medium for exposure and publicity to neutral acceptance of a practice that has become common place.
Chef Wolfgang Puck was quoted as saying "I don't mind when people take pictures of our dishes, as long as it doesn't bother any other guests. We feast with our eyes first, so I think taking a picture of a certain dish will help us to remember a great experience."
Mild irritation was expressed by some chefs that photographing food can be a timely occupation during which it is likely to get cold, putting a chef's hard work to waste. "The only downside is that not everyone has the eye to take a pretty shot and, more importantly, sometimes I want to shake people and tell them that their tacos are getting cold!” Chef Alex Stupak told Thrillist.
At the other end of the spectrum most restaurants have positively embraced happy snapping.
In May the first restaurant appeared on the scene entirely dedicated to encouraging patrons to Instagram their food. The Tel Aviv restaurant Foodography thoughtfully includes a photgraphy lesson prior to the food being served along with carefully designed lighting and Instagram plates, Speaking to The Telegraph, Chef Meir Adoni said “It has become a natural part of the dinner as opening a menu.”
This footage shows another New York restaurant that positively encourages Instagramming over dinner:
New restaurants have cottoned onto Instagram as a cool marketing ploy creating a stir for new restaurant openings spreading the word of mouth virally and instantly via social media.
Chefs are also no strangers to Instagram using it a great publicity tool and for sharing ideas. World renowned chef Rene Redzepi is a frequent user of Instagram posting photos of dishes and concepts:
A photo posted by Rene Redzepi (@reneredzepinoma) on Sep 12, 2015 at 6:06am PDT
Ban, accept or embrace, it looks like Instagram is here to stay and whether chefs choose to accept or reject it is a personal choice. Just don't let your food get cold while you line up your next shot as you might well be on the receiving end of finding out just how they feel about it!
If you've got your camera at the ready here are five tips to improve your food photography.