I promised to shut up over on eGullet where the debate about this topic rages on, but I'm free here on my very own blog to be less polite and more direct so I will be.
As those of you who have read my posts on the subject of picture taking in restaurants, particularly here in France, will know I'm strongly against it.
Its just plain rude and not done. It annoys everyone else in the restaurant, is embarrassing to one's fellow diners and is normally done only by those who don't know any better.
The bloggers use the fact that they're bloggers as an excuse, but I don't buy it. If you can't adequately describe your meal in words pictures aren't going to help. Not to mention the fact that the majority of amateur restaurant food photos are of pretty poor quality or are so digitally manipulated as to be not a true representation of the food they purport to show.
This photo taking behavior seems to go hand in hand with the whole attitude of I'll do whatever I want wherever and whenever I want. I see far too much of it these days. Whatever happen to the common sense approach of observation of behavior by the local populace trying to follow that, fitting in and enjoying the differences in the various cultures? I know that I'll never truly be French no matter how long I live here, but I can try to fit in and be regarded as a polite member of the local social scene rather than a typical picture taking tourist bore.
I keep hearing "well nobody complains when I take pictures in the restaurant" Well of course not; the French are far too polite to call attention to one's gaffe's. The restaurant staff regard you as a customer so you can get away with most anything. People like myself just try to make sure we stay out of your way. I also notice the slightly apologetic attitude. "I'm unobtrusive" "I don't use my flash" I have a small camera" Why bother? Could it be that deep down you know this is really not appropriate behavior?
Please please put your cameras away, enjoy your food, enjoy the ambiance of a good restaurant and, above all, enjoy sharing a meal with your companions.
As I said over on eGullet when the French start taking pictures in restaurants we guests in their country can as well.