Loathe it or love it, it has been impossible to ignore the growing trend of food photography over the last few years. Not only have I read articles published by small-scale food bloggers such as myself, food photography has also featured in local newspapers and well-known broadsheets alike. No one can deny that the phenomenon of people, such as myself, snapping pictures of the meal they are about to consume has become more common place nowadays, not only behind closed doors but also in public places and high end restaurants.
As a food blogger, I actively contribute to this trend. I adore food and sadly, I think I take more photographs of meals I have eaten or concoctions I have created than I do of my friends and family……perhaps I have a bit of a problem!!! It has been said that a picture paints a thousand words and this is especially apt when it comes to food photography. For me, a well photographed dish not only fills my head with recipe ideas, thoughts on flavour combinations and preparation methods, it can also make my mouth start to water and I can almost taste and smell the pictured dish; food photography is certainly impactive. Over the past few years, I have on occasion been a little too eager to get out my camera and get snapping away rather than think of the impact that this may have had on others. With this in mind, I have put together a few pointers on how to politely photograph your food whether at home or in public, based on my own experiences!
Memoirs of An Amateur Cook’s ‘The Polite Way to Photograph Food’!
1. Ask permission. Whilst taking photographs in a restaurant, it is a good idea to ask your waiter, waitress or restaurant manager whether it is ok to take photographs. In my experience, most places will be happy for you to share photographs of their delicious food and stunningly presented dishes, it is fantastic publicity after all! It tends to be establishments that have something to hide or have an inkling that they may get a negative review that aren’t quite so co-operative!
2. Don’t irritate your friends! When dining out in a group, it is worth asking the people at your table whether they would mind if you took a few quick (and I emphasises the word QUICK) snaps. If they are good friends or family, they will no doubt already be aware that you have a passion for all things foodie and are simply dying to get out your always-close-to-hand smart phone or digital camera.
3. The need for speed. As alluded to in my last tip, it is always best to try to take your photos as quickly and efficiently as possible. As made reference to by Xanthe Clay in her article in today’s Telegraph, it would be an absolute travesty for your fellow diners’ meals to become cold and ‘congealed’ whilst you are on a quest to capture the essence of the perfect dish that you are photographing…..it kind of defeats the whole point!
4. Less is more. Much like my last tip about not spending too much time on a photograph, if dining out do not bring along your tripod, bucket loads of equipment, or a massive flash that will blind everyone within a 500 meter radius of the restaurant for at least a few minutes. This will not only ruin your companion’s dining experience but also everyone else in the establishment. Always be discreet.
5. Eat now, snap later. At home, I have learnt to prepare extra portions so that after cooking a meal, I can enjoy eating it straight away and can think about photographing another portion of the same meal later on. This means that my starving boyfriend can concentrate on tucking into a lovingly prepared meal rather than exercising his willpower whilst I spend time presenting and photographing a meal which is quickly going cold. This often works in my favour as I can photograph the dish the next day when the natural light is better and, if the food is cold, I wont have any wisps of steam obscuring the photograph.
6. Sharing is caring. In my experience, people within the food industry are appreciative of the publicity a well pictured plate can bring. If you photograph the food at a particular restaurant, tweet, email or telephone the restaurant to let them know about the results, especially if you are publicising the picture. The same goes for dishes you have cooked at home from cookbooks. I was chuffed to bits when Jamie Oliver re-tweeted a picture I had taken of my re-creation of his ‘Sticky Chicken Chinese Noodles’ and it hopefully inspired some people in the Twittersphere to go out and purchase his cookbook!
If you follow the above tips, hopefully you won’t encounter too many issues when taking photographs of your delectable dishes. I must admit, I have never encountered an issue with snapping away, even when at prestigious venues such as The Paris House. Am I surprised about the news that a group of French chefs are potentially banning cameras from their restaurants? No, not in the slightest; no matter how you go about it one thing is certain, people either love or loathe food photography, and it always promotes a lot of discussion. With smart phones being the norm and cameras on such devices being improved each day, it looks like pre-meal snapping is here to stay. For mine and my fellow food bloggers’ sakes, lets hope that this is the case….