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Photographing food in stores -- is it forbidden everywhere?

Photographing food in stores -- is it forbidden everywhere?
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  • Photographing food in stores -- is it forbidden everywhere?

    Post #1 - May 19th, 2010, 3:12 pm
    Post #1 - May 19th, 2010, 3:12 pm Post #1 - May 19th, 2010, 3:12 pm
    A lot of the images in my food blog are of food in gardens or open markets, but occasionally I'm writing about something for which I do not have a photo. I figured a grocery store would be a natural place to take a few good shots of food. I have succeeded in getting a couple of shots at some stores, but yesterday, I took a photo of a bin of peanuts at Garden Fresh, and someone immediately ran over, clearly agitated, to tell me it was not allowed. I said I was just taking a picture of the peanuts, and it was reiterated that it was not allowed. So I put my camera away. A few minutes later, a manager appeared, the first worker no doubt feeling I didn't fully appreciate how completely out of line I'd been photographing those peanuts. I was told emphatically that no one was every allowed to take a photo in the store. I pointed out that I'd already put my camera away, but added that I couldn't see any harm in it, and I was told sternly that it was against the rules. I was then followed for the next 10 minutes, until I guess the felt confident they'd impressed on me the seriousness of the situation.

    Is this normal? Did I just not get seen in other stores where I took photos, and they would have hated me too if they'd known? These people were clearly shaken. If I'd been taking photos of the cash registers or security cameras or entrance ways, I might have understood that, but peanuts?

    So has anyone else run into this? Are there any grocery store employees out there who can explain the horror cause by that snapshot? Is this a policy peculiar to individual stores, or do all grocery stores fear having their food photographed? And, if so, why?

    It's not like I was taking photos of rotting food. The produce in particular was gorgeous. So I'm baffled.

    Thanks for any insight.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #2 - May 19th, 2010, 3:40 pm
    Post #2 - May 19th, 2010, 3:40 pm Post #2 - May 19th, 2010, 3:40 pm
    Yes. That's fairly normal. Every time I have had a shoot in a grocery store, there has been a lot of pre-planning and permission-getting required, though with proper notification I find grocery store people to be very accommodating. This is true of everywhere from Dominick's to Whole Foods, in my experience.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - May 19th, 2010, 3:50 pm
    Post #3 - May 19th, 2010, 3:50 pm Post #3 - May 19th, 2010, 3:50 pm
    HI,

    The first is obvious, it is their store and they can pretty much dictate what they do and do not want. Plus they have no idea how the image will be used, which may work for them or against.

    I once took pictures at Bloomingdales of Hot Doug's demo. The person overseeing this event wasn't too happy about my taking pictures. I told her I did ask Doug's permission. She replied I was allowed to take pictures of his presentation only. She kept an eye on me for quite a while, then relaxed when she realized he was my sole interest. Later she commented they consider their displays proprietary. Taking a photo would allow someone to easily replicate it.

    I saw a jar of chittling seasoning at Peoria Packing House. I was getting ready to take a picture of the label, when I was told to stop. I didn't argue the point, I stopped. I could have bought the bottle and done the deed anywhere else. I thought it was amusing, though not enough to buy it.

    Once while a friend was taking pictures of the exterior of the restaurant. I walked in to get a menu. The cashier confronted me about why my friend was taking pictures. The next thing I know, the kitchen staff comes piling out of the kitchen with fierce looks on their faces. I found myself explaining to the group about this hobby we share.

    I vary from being very, very discrete to asking permission. More often than not, I take a quick snap to remind myself later when I get home.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - May 19th, 2010, 3:56 pm
    Post #4 - May 19th, 2010, 3:56 pm Post #4 - May 19th, 2010, 3:56 pm
    Look up Food Lion v. Capital Cities/ABC. They got a lot tougher about that after that whole business.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #5 - May 19th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    Post #5 - May 19th, 2010, 3:59 pm Post #5 - May 19th, 2010, 3:59 pm
    The obvious reason is that they're trying to make corporate spying more work than the value they can get out of it.
    Photos of the shelves gives competitors ideas of pricing and how things are displayed. Yes, you can write a bunch of stuff down, but that's kind of obvious too, and slower.

    On the other hand, the cell camera is ubiquitous, and with smartphone apps such as "Google Goggles", you can comparison shop by taking a photo of the product -- or more likely to get positive results, its UPC.

    It's similar to the ideas of photos in a public place violating personal privacy -- get used to it, shopowners, keeping this stuff secret is basically over.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - May 19th, 2010, 4:24 pm
    Post #6 - May 19th, 2010, 4:24 pm Post #6 - May 19th, 2010, 4:24 pm
    What Joel said.

    I used to take pictures of our products on the shelves in all kinds of retail stores, and it was a rare occurrence when I didn't at least get the stinkeye. Being approached and asked not to take photos was entirely normal.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #7 - May 19th, 2010, 5:21 pm
    Post #7 - May 19th, 2010, 5:21 pm Post #7 - May 19th, 2010, 5:21 pm
    I don't see what the big deal is. It's not like anyone takes photos then uses them to lambast some store on the internet.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #8 - May 19th, 2010, 8:41 pm
    Post #8 - May 19th, 2010, 8:41 pm Post #8 - May 19th, 2010, 8:41 pm
    Fair enough. Too bad, but at least it's consistent. I didn't argue the rule with them, just put the camera away when I was told (which is why I was surprised that the manager then came out -- I complied immediately with the request, though I did ask why). I spent a number of years in the food business -- longer ago than I care to believe -- and we always photographed our product on the shelves, our displays, etc. and there was never any big deal or even getting permission, so this surprised me. But if it's always going to be like this, then I guess I'll just have to rely on farm visits and open-air markets.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #9 - May 19th, 2010, 8:44 pm
    Post #9 - May 19th, 2010, 8:44 pm Post #9 - May 19th, 2010, 8:44 pm
    Perhaps you could try asking their permission before taking pictures in their store?
  • Post #10 - May 19th, 2010, 10:41 pm
    Post #10 - May 19th, 2010, 10:41 pm Post #10 - May 19th, 2010, 10:41 pm
    Darren72 wrote:Perhaps you could try asking their permission before taking pictures in their store?


    I may try that at a smaller store. I find that in almost every organization, the farther away you get from where the decisions are made, the more difficult it is to get anyone to make concessions. But I would definitely not consider trying it again without permission.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #11 - May 19th, 2010, 10:52 pm
    Post #11 - May 19th, 2010, 10:52 pm Post #11 - May 19th, 2010, 10:52 pm
    Hi,

    If you want to photograph at Garden Fresh again, I do have the name of their PR person. Let me know if you want it.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - May 20th, 2010, 5:25 am
    Post #12 - May 20th, 2010, 5:25 am Post #12 - May 20th, 2010, 5:25 am
    In all seriousness, I don't care about a store policy against photos. I'm taking pictures anyway until they kick me out. These places have hidden cameras all over the place recording my every move - by doing that they've given up any expectation of privacy from me. And some of these stores are filled with lies and unethical practices that the world should know about. Too bad for them if they're afraid of my little digital camara. Maybe they should stop doing things that warrant being afraid.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #13 - May 20th, 2010, 5:37 am
    Post #13 - May 20th, 2010, 5:37 am Post #13 - May 20th, 2010, 5:37 am
    Good point, Kennyz. Personally, I take great delight in snapping a shot whenever I like, stealthily and in complete disregard of their "rules."

    Besides Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, maybe today can be Everybody Photograph Jewel End-Caps Day too. Then we can move on to the ultimate crime-- taking pictures of Marina City Towers.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #14 - May 20th, 2010, 7:21 am
    Post #14 - May 20th, 2010, 7:21 am Post #14 - May 20th, 2010, 7:21 am
    Ever heard of cell phone cameras?
  • Post #15 - May 20th, 2010, 7:57 am
    Post #15 - May 20th, 2010, 7:57 am Post #15 - May 20th, 2010, 7:57 am
    I take pictures in stores often, and have yet to encounter an issue.

    Peoria Meatpacking, Rest. Depot, etc. are just a couple places I have snapped photos. Keep in mind I am not staging shots, etc, just a quick snap of the camera, and move on as I have heard picture taking in stores can be frowned upon by management. If I ever got caught I would simply put my camera away, their property, their rules.
  • Post #16 - May 20th, 2010, 10:30 am
    Post #16 - May 20th, 2010, 10:30 am Post #16 - May 20th, 2010, 10:30 am
    Having worked in retail (management side) aside from concerns about competitors there are also concerns about customer privacy. Because it's impractical for the manager to monitor what you're photographing it's safer to just implement an across-the-board policy.

    As for Kennyz contention that surveillance cameras already compromise privacy, people are aware of those and will waive their concerns with the understanding that the store is limiting access to those images. The issues at play here are more for the dissemination of images by outsiders who aren't under the control of the store. So they're a little more concerned if you're snapping a shot of a Twinkie display with an ironically-placed overweight customer in the frame.
  • Post #17 - May 20th, 2010, 12:32 pm
    Post #17 - May 20th, 2010, 12:32 pm Post #17 - May 20th, 2010, 12:32 pm
    Wordpress has the lovely feature of telling you what links were clicked to reach your blog. Because there has been a sudden surge in clicks on the link to my Waltzing Australia blog coming from this thread, I figured folks might have been expecting a link to the food blog I mentioned in the original post. Alas, that's a different blog -- http://worldsfare.wordpress.com -- and though the blogs are connected, I didn't see anyone clicking from the Aussie blog to The World's Fare, so I thought folks might be wondering what photos I was speaking of. You'll be hard pressed to find images from stores, as I have thus far relied on images from travels (as the blog is for food and travel), friend's gardens, or open-air markets, but at least you'll get some idea where the images would end up.

    As for suggestions of cell phones -- I've heard that some take photos, but I've never actually seen one of those. My cell phone doesn't play music or offer Internet access, either -- but it does only cost $6.50 a month. :)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #18 - May 20th, 2010, 12:43 pm
    Post #18 - May 20th, 2010, 12:43 pm Post #18 - May 20th, 2010, 12:43 pm
    spinynorman99 wrote:As for Kennyz contention that surveillance cameras already compromise privacy,...

    It's not a contention, it's a fact: I offer Dominick's no privacy when it comes to taking pictures in their store.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #19 - May 24th, 2010, 10:29 am
    Post #19 - May 24th, 2010, 10:29 am Post #19 - May 24th, 2010, 10:29 am
    As for suggestions of cell phones -- I've heard that some take photos, but I've never actually seen one of those. My cell phone doesn't play music or offer Internet access, either -- but it does only cost $6.50 a month.
    Alright Cynthia...lets hear it for low maintenance cell phones!
  • Post #20 - June 3rd, 2010, 5:45 pm
    Post #20 - June 3rd, 2010, 5:45 pm Post #20 - June 3rd, 2010, 5:45 pm
    Taking pictures in any private establishment requires permission to do so from that establishment, how hard is that to figure out, that would be end of this conversation I presume...thank you.
  • Post #21 - June 3rd, 2010, 6:55 pm
    Post #21 - June 3rd, 2010, 6:55 pm Post #21 - June 3rd, 2010, 6:55 pm
    foodmex wrote:Taking pictures in any private establishment requires permission to do so from that establishment, how hard is that to figure out, that would be end of this conversation I presume...thank you.

    If your presumption were true, then this conversation would've ended after the third post in this thread. Fortunately, this is a chat site, where people chat about stuff. Crazy, I know.
  • Post #22 - August 17th, 2010, 10:37 am
    Post #22 - August 17th, 2010, 10:37 am Post #22 - August 17th, 2010, 10:37 am
    Bill Daley linked this interesting article on FB. It is tough to get an interior or exterior without getting a few random strangers in the photo - however, do you think you need to disturb everyone you might get in such a shot to ask permission? Tough call.
  • Post #23 - August 17th, 2010, 9:36 pm
    Post #23 - August 17th, 2010, 9:36 pm Post #23 - August 17th, 2010, 9:36 pm
    Mhays wrote:Bill Daley linked this interesting article on FB. It is tough to get an interior or exterior without getting a few random strangers in the photo - however, do you think you need to disturb everyone you might get in such a shot to ask permission? Tough call.

    If you're taking a random shot of the exterior of a place, especially if the people in it aren't recognizable, you don't need to ask.

    You also don't need to ask if you're taking pictures of a news event.

    You should get permission if people aren't in public, so if you go to some kind of private event, you should ask permission before posting people's pictures online. You also need to be careful even in public of pictures of people that could place them in a false position or somehow make them appear ridiculous. (Bear in mind that anyone can bring a lawsuit, and they can be expensive even if you win.) And you shouldn't take photos of anyone who objects to being photographed.

    Photographers who do a lot of shooting of random people usually have a release form that they try to get their subjects to sign.
  • Post #24 - August 17th, 2010, 10:19 pm
    Post #24 - August 17th, 2010, 10:19 pm Post #24 - August 17th, 2010, 10:19 pm
    There is an app for thathttp://www.applicationgap.com/apps/easyrelease/.... Model releases that is...

    Not much discussion on BD's FB post....
  • Post #25 - August 18th, 2010, 6:53 am
    Post #25 - August 18th, 2010, 6:53 am Post #25 - August 18th, 2010, 6:53 am
    mhill95149 wrote:There is an app for thathttp://www.applicationgap.com/apps/easyrelease/.... Model releases that is...

    Not much discussion on BD's FB post....


    Thanks for that link. That app is going on my Droid ASAP!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

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