It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Picture this

As you may have gathered from looking at the other offerings on the site, I’m no photography expert. It’s not that I object to them exactly. There is no spiritual reason for my dislike, I don’t think that photographs can steal a soul, and I’m not worried by having photos of me available for public view.

No, my main difficulty when it comes to photos is the taking of them. There’s nothing more effective at ruining a nice occasion than someone taking a photograph. Even on my wedding day, which was, to use an old but accurate cliché, the happiest day of my life, the reception had to take 15-20 minutes off while we ran around being photographed, pulling various guests in and out of frame, smiling and smiling again, and generally causing everyone to miss valuable canapé time. Yes, we now have an album, but it’s an album with lots of posed photos in it.

Holidays are another bugbear. I never willingly look at photos from a holiday I’ve been on, principally because there are normally none to look at. I know I sound like a miserable git, but I’ve never understood why someone might say, climb a high mountain, get to the top, and during the extraordinary moment of exhilaration that accompanies the achievement, decide that the best thing to do is take a photo. Just remember it.

You can see where this is leading. I do understand that there’s a good reason for photographing food for a food blog. I’m not a complete idiot. But if you’re not sucking PR teat, then your meals out tend to be occasions for you and friends/family/dates/lovers to enjoy each other’s company while tucking in to something unholy and delicious. There’s etiquette to these situations, there are rules: listen to others at your table, talk to them, discuss your food by all means, and enjoy yourself. It’s simple.

Taking photos of the food before you’ve begun to eat should, in any right-thinking society, be anathema. It’s not going to look any better in the photo, and if you need it to jog your memory, then you’re drinking too much, or the meal is no good anyway. Anyway, photographing food is a sure-fire way to let a restaurant know you’re reviewing it.

But what about your audience? Well, the audience question is pretty much hypothetical for me at the moment, but in principle, there are some exceptions. I’ll concede that if you’re running a food blog, and you review restaurants, it makes sense to put some photos of the food up on the website. Discretion is surely key.

As a rule, if I’m getting out of my chair to take a photo, then I’ve missed the point, and possibly made everyone else at the table feel uncomfortable. What’s more, I’ve fundamentally compromised my enjoyment of the meal, which will no doubt be reflected, even subconsciously, in my review. In short, it’s rude to the restaurant and it’s rude to the other guests.

For me, if it comes to a choice between being rude to people I don’t want to be rude to, and having slightly worse photos than I might on the website, then there’s really no choice at all. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

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