>Food on film.

>I love to write, always have. I lack the discipline to do it regularly, but blogging helps. For some reason pens and paper have been for drawing rather than storytelling.

I have this funny habit of keeping a lot in my head rather than putting everything down on the page- it tends to leave people guessing a lot, which is one of the reasons I like blogging, because it allows you to edit without leaving a trail or smudgey marks.

Another thing I enjoy is taking photos- of food in restaurants or prepared in my kitchen, friends, friends eating food, friends outside, gadgets, pieces of art, basically anything that awakens my senses and makes me “wow” inside.

A recent post on this site, which is Sam’s latest work of genius, was about food blogging and taking pictures in restaurants and it got me thinking a bit. The poster was asking about a San Francisco Chronicle article and if anyone had tips about taking restaurant photos and if it was something people enjoyed doing.

My first thought was that photographing a meal is something you don’t do on a special occasion- a first date, a birthday (unless you’re also taking group photos to share), an anniversary, etc. Those are times you want to focus on the other person and not, as another poster put it, getting that perfect shot of a butter pat. If you’re going to go out with the intent of photographing your meal, make sure your fellow diners (ie the one’s at your table) know it’s going to happen and are okay with it. Otherwise you will have to be sneaky and very few sneaky photos are any good. Reasonable, right?

Last night a friend and I met for dinner to discuss an event we were planning. I’ve been to Tara Thai before and blogged about it. It’s a marvelous place: the food is good, the staff is helpful and the decor is fantastic. It’s a chain, but it doesn’t feel like one. In short, lots of “wow.” But I’ve seen this “wow” before. We ordered, talked and ate. My camera was in my bag because I’m participating in a project where you find alphabet letters in everyday things and I like to have my camera just in case a letter presents itself.

Taking shots during dinner didn’t even enter my mind, but then came dessert. And it was “wow.” It was a slice of young coconut pie topped with shards of coconut, drizzled with what looked like chocolate but turned out to be raspberry sauce, dusted with powdered sugar and laid lovingly on an orange, triangle-shaped plate.

“I need a shot of that!” I said, and my friend agreed. I took two photos, one with a flash and one without. I’m not a great photographer, but hopefully I captured the “wow.” Nobody was disturbed, the waiter chuckled and left us to it.

So now I think about the picture taking and I say this:

Use your own discretion.

I take pictures in restaurants because if I see something, anything, that appeals to me I want to remember it. And maybe write about it and share how I feel with other people. I don’t do it all time (depends, as I said, on the restaurant and occasion), but when I do I don’t apologize, I don’t explain and I don’t always post it either. And it’s not just in restaurants- the other day I was on the Metro (where they get a bit antsy if you take photos) and saw a pair of red high heeled shoes, ankles crossed, hanging over the edge of one of the benches. I took a picture and though it wasn’t perfect it captured a moment that probably has a great story attached.

I don’t critique food all that often and I don’t believe that paying for a meal entitles us to be able to whip out our camera and so my opinion is probably useless if you are a budding food critic with entitlement issues. But if you just want to the capture a moment and are nervous about it, then I say do it. If you aren’t sure it’s okay then ask. Or just screw up your courage. Or don’t do it at all. And if you do, watch your flash- especially where it’s pointed.

In the end, most places worth their salt will take it as a compliment- foodblogging may be ubiquitous, but some of use are still just visitors (guests?) everywhere we go. entranced by what we see and that’s not a bad thing.

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