It's become a commonplace sight in restaurants — customers photographing their food before they eat it. While a few restaurants are actually banning the practice, here are the reasons on why and how you should embrace it.
Customers are your free publicity
The most important reason a restaurant should allow photographs is that it is free publicity. Blog post done. You can move on.
Kidding aside, customers are taking pictures of your food and posting them on one or more social media sites. One photo could end up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Dinnerwire, Foodspotting, Foursquare and more. That's an amazing amount of reach depending on the customer's friends and followers and their friends and followers. Basically, it's priceless.
Extend that reach further
Now if you take that customer's post and re-post it on your own social media sites you've exponentially grown that reach even further.
To get even more photos, participation, and promotion, sponsor a photo contest. Create a hashtag and rules. Maybe you have a weekly special. Have customers submit their photos that week of the special or anything they ate that particular week and they could win next week's special.
Set the rules in your restaurant
Yes, taking photos can be disruptive to other guests. You can post rules while not banning the practice completely. Flash is the most disruptive. Remind guests that food photos are best taken without flash. Some restaurants actually have a photo table or area with good lighting available for taking the pictures.
Host a foodie photo night
If you have a list or keep track of the people in town that are posting the most foodie pics, invite them to a photo session. Prepare a few dishes you want to highlight or promote. You only have to make one of each dish for picture purposes and then serve drinks, appetizers, and/or small bite size portions of the dishes for tasting.
While there are always a few customers that can be annoying with their food photography, there are many more that are polite and conscientious of how they go about it. Keeping a positive attitude with these foodie photographers will, in the long run, only help your restaurant to attract new customers.