Meditations

Things that happen when you bring a camera to a restaurant


Food photographer in actionThe propensity to photograph my food has become less earnest over the years. Nowadays, I bring the camera out at restaurants that have already won me over after repeat visits, excepting those far-off places that I will have little chance of patronizing again.

The number of incidents that I’ve experienced as a person visibly documenting my meal has consequently lessened, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a storehouse of fond (and not so fond) memories from yesterday. Here are some of the most memorable occasions, triggered in part by the discussions we’ve been having in the Forum and throughout the site.

At Atlanta’s Bacchanalia: Richard, one of the wait staff, noticed that I was having trouble training my lens on the veal sweatbreads in the dim light. He came by to shine his blue pen light on my dish so that I could have a focal point – what a sweetheart! Later, the diners that had been observing my food photography at the table next to me struck up a conversation, resulting in an offer to sample from their bottle of pinot noir. I was floored by her willingness to share with a total stranger. Georgians sure are a friendly lot.

At Chocoatl Chocolate Boutique: I was enjoying a cup of cocoa with my SLR on the table when a table neighbour, who also sported his Canon 40D, started chatting to me about my Canon XTi. We engaged ourselves in an hour of camera geekery while we enjoyed our drinks. He turned out to be the photographer for Chocoatl’s website and menu, whose visuals I had been admiring all afternoon.

At Bistro Sakana: While fussing with table props during one sunny lunch hour, I met the owner of the nearby Luscious Hair Salon and his brother Paul who was visiting from Sydney. Paul, who thought it a riot that someone was styling their meal, offered me a rare occasion to be in the shot with my food (unfortunately, the photos didn’t turn out). Upon coming across our interaction, the patio server politely remarked, “Oh, I see you’ve met the girl with the camera”. As it was only my second visit, I must have left quite an impression during my first time 3 weeks prior – eep.

At Alpha Global Sushi & Bar: As a regular of this fantastic izakaya, owners Keisuke and Yuji have gotten accustomed to the presence of my lens. One day, I asked Keisuke to surprise me with a cocktail. My only criterion was that it needed to be photogenic. So he concocted a drink and dubbed it “The Canon”.

At Parkside: As I was quietly snapping a photo of my Dine Out Vancouver meal at one of the city’s more elitist restaurants, the bartender came by to inform me that photography was not acceptable inside Parkside. Mortified, I apologized and clarified if it was flash photography that offended them (I never use flash). Nope, he said, all photography was verboten. I obediently began to pack away my camera, only to hear him guffaw and tell me that he was just pulling my leg. That was some joke, jerk. No sympathy from me when Parkside made way for L’Altro Buca. I’m certainly not eager to return there for Italian bistroness, if that’s what they think customer service should be.

Do you have any anecdotes as a result of your food photography?

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