For foodies and amateur photographers, nothing beats snapping the perfect picture of a photogenic meal and posting it to Instagram. Photographing brunches and dinners has become so commonplace that entire Instagram accounts are dedicated to it, but over the years, restaurants have had enough of all the iPhones hovering over dishes, and have begun banning photography. The latest ritzy restaurant to forbid photos is Britain’s Waterside Inn, which has placed a “No photos, please” sign on its door. Waterside Inn co-founder Michel Roux told Grub Street that all the photography was making him “upset,” and that he couldn’t see the point in the practice: “A picture on a phone cannot possibly capture the flavors.”
But of course, Waterside Inn is hardly the first to ban photography in its dining room. In 2013, New York City chef David Bouley told the New York Times that when diner photography started to get out of control, he began inviting guests into the actual kitchen to take photos before the meal was served. Bouley and other restaurant industry professionals bemoaned the way guests would sometimes go to absurd lengths—such as standing on chairs or using bright flashes—to get a picture of their food. “It’s hard to build a memorable evening when flashes are flying every six minutes,” Bouley told the Times.
The ultra-classy Asian-American fusion restaurant Momofuku Ko has also long banned photography, but the restaurant gave diners a little love by temporarily reversing the ban for its fifth anniversary in 2013. For the anniversary, Momofuku Ko chef David Chang allowed staff from Serious Eats to take some photos. Expressing sentiments similar to Bouley’s, Chang told Serious Eats: “It’s food. Just eat it.” Who would have thoughts chefs just want people to eat their food?
Other restaurants have taken up strict no-photo policies more recently. A popular East Williamsburg/ Bushwick restaurant, Carthage Must Be Destroyed, has a policy that states: “no photos of the restaurant, no photos of the kitchen, no photo shoots, no video shoots, no flash, no excessive photo taking, and please keep the aisles clear,” according to Eater. Guests are still allowed to take some photos at Carthage Must Be Destroyed, however, so long as the photography is contained to their “personal space.”
Back in 2013, some foodies bemoaned a possible end to “food porn,” but given that plenty of restaurants still allow at least some photos, and most have no formal restrictions, it seems like beloved food porn is safe. In fact, if you take a scroll through Instagram right now, it’s impossible you won’t see at least a few overhead shots of various avocado toasts and braised meats.