I can’t speak for any other avid food photographer but I am embarrassed when I take pictures of my food at restaurants. Embarrassed because it seems somewhat cliché to have yet another camera-toting Asian woman snapping away at the dish in front of her. And then there are the eye rolls and unwanted stares you can get from fellow diners, particularly at fine dining establishments. You would think I’m picking my nose based on the looks and whispers I’ve gotten.
Earlier this year I caved under the pressure and stopped photographing my restaurant meals. It was also kind of an experiment: will I enjoy the dining experience and the presence of my dining companions more? Two months later I realized the answer is a big fat no.
Conversations might have been a bit more fluid and my meal was a little warmer as I was not taking an extra 45 seconds to work out the settings of the camera but it didn’t add that much to my nor my partner’s overall experience. By following the etiquette of not using flash, staying in my seat to take the photograph, and using an unobtrusive-sized camera I realized it does help in minimizing the fuss factor.
I ended my experiment just in time to dine at Midsummer House in March. The four of us were lucky enough to be sat in the Conservatory dining room where light drenched the room and I was sat in the corner protected by friends from potential haters while I happily and quietly snapped away. (As this post isn’t meant to be a review of Midsummer House, I won’t go into details of the meal but I will vouch for it being a worthwhile dining experience.)
So I’m back to being a walking cliché. I am still embarrassed about it. But at the end of the meal I’ll have more than a doggie bag to take away.