Just when you thought it was the easiest assignment you get. I just read that some New York restaurants are developing policies on whether photography is allowed, or banned in their restaurant. Apparently it is a response to the foodie bloggers.
Who knew? The main concern seems to be flash photography and the interruption that it causes to other diners.
I shoot food all the time, but usually by appointment. One time, the reporter forgot to get an appointment and so we just showed up and ordered a meal- she would review and I would shoot at the same time. Problem was, we were having such a good time, and the food looked so good, we just started eating it. Then we realized what we were doing and had to patch it back together for the photo. That is why for me, work is work, and lunch is lunch.
The best time to shoot food photos is 2pm. The cooks are still there, but the busy lunch time is over.
The legal issues are this: a restaurant is private property so they do have the liberty to limit certain activity (although after the photos are taken, they have no control). There have been occasional concerns about copyright in the artistic expression of food, but I think that is a questionable claim for your average meal. Some chefs have been known to claim that their food sculpture is copyrighted, but a picture accompanying a review of that food would likely fall under fair use. There have been instances of recipe plagiarism, but a mere listing of ingredients is not protected by copyright (although substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions can be). This seems to be more of an ethical issue currently.
I think it will be a while before this anxiety of banning photography of restaurant dishes hits the fabulous restaurants of San Antonio.