Monday, January 28, 2013

Hey Man Nice Shot - Part 3

So all of a sudden restaurant photography - or the prohibition thereof - is a hot topic. At least the New York Times would have us believe that, according to a piece published last week: "Restaurants Turn Camera Shy." The article describes a "growing backlash" against in-restaurant food photography, citing bans imposed at places such as Momofuku Ko and Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare.

If this doesn't quite sound like breaking news to you - that's because it isn't. In fact, David Chang's ban on pictures at Ko already made the news cycle at least once before - nearly five years ago. Brooklyn Fare's no-photo policy (and no notes, and no cell-phones!) likewise has been around for at least a couple years.

People taking pictures in restaurants isn't anything new. Chefs and other diners being annoyed by people taking pictures in restaurants also isn't anything new. And while I can empathize with the sentiment, there are any number of other restaurant behaviors I find equally if not more annoying: loud cell-phone talking, sloppy drunkenness, heavy petting, lousy tipping.

So if you're going to do it, you ought to at least do it in a way that's least intrusive and offensive to your fellow diners, and also try to get the best shot possible, right? The NYT piece prompted a few good guidelines on that front: "How to Take a Picture in a Restaurant Without Looking Like a Jerk;" "Everyone: Taking Food Pictures in Restaurants is Not that Complicated;" and "Restaurant Food Photography: Is It Possible to Do It Well?" hit on most of the high points. To summarize: no flash; no tripods; no weird filters; no pictures of other people in the dining room; take your shots quickly; learn how to use your camera; don't clutter the table with equipment; and "Above all else, try not to be a dick."

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I'd been given the opportunity to try out a Sony NEX-5R camera as part of a Sony / Flavorpill campaign. I've been using it a couple weeks now, and am finding it to be a great tool to fulfill most of these commandments. Its body is actually about a centimeter shorter than an iPhone and not much wider, other than the grip on the right-hand side. Though it won't fit in your pocket with the lens attached, it is still significantly less of a space-hog than a DSLR. But it still has virtually all of the capabilities of a DSLR: full manual control, very solid picture quality, good low-light performance, the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. You'll be able to see the results soon at the Sony Store - details to follow shortly.

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