Thanks to Instagram, dining out at a restaurant has become about so much more than just enjoying a meal in the moment. With the rise of influencers and, really, anyone who’s eating for the Insta, it has become commonplace to see groups of foodies angling to get the perfect dish pics for their feeds.
When you’re one of those photographers in the zone, it’s easy to forget that others diners around you are just trying to enjoy their food – flash free. Chef Stephane Lemagnen of 375 Degrees in Manhattan, says, “Just being aware and respectful of your dining neighbor is always a good rule of thumb in any situation.”
If you don’t want to spoil the party (or, rather, the meal) for your fellow diners, use these simple etiquette tips the next time you reach for your camera at the dinner table.
Take Your Plate Outside
This is a favorite among many influencers because it helps you avoid dirty looks from other diners and you often get the best lighting for your photo. Lori Eng, the owner of Juicy Spot Café, agrees, “We love outdoor photos in the sunlight because it captures the true colors of our creations.”
Turn Off Your Flash
It may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to turn off my own flash in a dimly lit restaurant. It not only annoys the tables around you — it also makes for one terrible photo.
Request A Secluded Spot
If you know you’re going to take some Insta-worthy shots of your food, use the notes feature in OpenTable to ask for a table in a back room or a corner. That way you can stand up, position your food however you want and use your portable light without the entire restaurant staring (or glaring) at you.
Put A Napkin Around Your Light
If you’ve got more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, you probably also own a portable LED light to enhance the color and quality of your shots. The problem is those things are bright! To soften the light and keep it contained, food photographers put napkins around the edges.
Take It to The Kitchen
When it’s dinner time and there isn’t any natural light to be found, your best bet is to ask the restaurant if you can take your plate into the kitchen. When he knows shutterbugs are dining at his restaurants, Howard Berke, co-owner of Caliente Cab in Manhattan, says, “We alert the chefs in the locations and they prep for visitors in the kitchen.” In a restaurant kitchen, you’re likely to be able to find a clean surface or tile backdrop to stage your photos. Best of all, you’ll have access to tons of bright lights and none of the groans from your neighbors.
Use Your Menu
Of course, you’re going to want to hang on to one to want to keep ordering food (if you’re like me, anyway), but you can also use your menu as a barrier between you and the table next to you. This allows you to endlessly attempt to get the perfect noodle pull without disrupting anyone around you.
Talk to Your Neighbors
Common courtesy can go a long way. The next time you plan on having a food photo shoot, give the diners at the next table a heads up that you’re a food blogger and apologize in advance for taking pictures of every dish. Food photographer and Instagrammer thefoodie.tographer says, “If you happen to order the same dish they did, compliment them on their suggestion. You might also gain a follower for valuing their insight.”
Share your etiquette tips with us here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Katie Lockhart is a Brooklyn-based food and travel writer. When she’s not writing, she’s eating her way around the world and posting it all on her Instagram @findyourhappyplate and blog findyourhappyplate.co.
Photo credit: Matt Bruck.