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Some New York City Restaurants Ban Food Photography By Customers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you're one of the thousands of people who snap pictures of your food and instantly share them on social media, you might be surprised to learn that some restaurants are now banning photos of their food.

As CBS 2's Emily Smith reported Monday, you see it all the time – not art or fancy photography, just cell phone pictures of our meals.

"I think, inherently, New Yorkers want to brag about the fantastic restaurants that are here in New York," a woman said.

"My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, they take pictures of the food wherever they go," a man said.

And it is something that has gone from awkward to mainstream, via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. What is sometimes known as "food porn" has taken on a life of its own, and some restaurants have decided to ban it.

"It can shatter the experience when you're asking your fiancé to marry you, and a flash is going off at a table next door," said David Bouley, owner of Bouley Restaurant.

At Bouley, located on Duane Street in TriBeCa, a new protocol is in place. Guests may only take photos in the kitchen, and by next week, Bouley will be providing a photo to customers with the check.

"This whole system here will be set up very soon, so we can shoot their food and have it delivered to them before they leave; before they pay their check," Bouley said.

At Brooklyn Fare on Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the owner confirmed no cell phone pictures are allowed whatsoever, citing distraction as the reason.

Pop culture expert Adam Hanft said the problem could be a lot of things.

"Somebody doesn't like a restaurant, somebody has a grudge against the restaurant, they can manipulate the food," he said.

So what's behind the "food photography" craze?

"It's another example of us wanting to document every little piece of our lives," Hanft said. "We're strapping on things to measure how many steps we take, and now we take pictures of our food."

Steven Hall, a spokesman for dozens of other restaurants in New York City, said food photography is a phenomenon that more and more chefs cannot accept because of presentation.

"There's no way you're going to take a beautiful shot of food in a dimly-lit restaurant," Hall said.

But restaurants that ban taking pictures of food also know they're banning free advertising.

Food photo policies vary from restaurant to restaurant. They can include anything from an outright ban on cameras to just a ban on a flash.

Do you snap photos of your food at restaurants? Do you think the practice should be banned? Leave your comments below...

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