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New York Restaurants Have Informal Ban on Food Photos

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The days of simply dining and enjoying have changed.  More and more restaurant-goers are pulling out their smartphones or digital cameras and taking photos of elaborate entrees and dishes at New York City restaurants.

This growing trend is commonly known as foodstagram, a photo taken on a cellphone and quickly posted online.

"With the advent of social media, it just became that people like food porn," said Steven Hall, PR representative for Bouley restaurant.  "People really love looking at pictures of food."

But some restaurants are cracking down on snap-happy guests.  The New York Times reports that owners of upscale restaurants like Fat Duck, Le Bernardin and Per Se "discourage flash photography" by their guests.

Gerald San Jose, media manager for Per Se, said the restaurant "does not have a no-photography policy, although if guests do photograph, Per Se asks that they refrain from using flash and be discreet so as to not disturb the experience of other guests."

Le Bernardin agrees, saying, "Flash photography disturbs other diners."

So far, the informal ban has not made its way to the New York State Restaurant Association, which includes 5,000 restaurants in the New York metro area.  Andrew Moesel, spokesman for the NYSRA, says the issue is not something that's on the organization's radar.

"At our level, it's not something we're looking to regulate or weigh in on in any way," said Moesel.  "Some restaurants would encourage people to share the dishes that they serve there, while others might want to make sure the dining experience is more private."

Private yes, but off limits?  Not entirely.  Although more and more guests are taking photos of their plated inspirations, Hall said he believes it depends on the setting, but "there is such a thing as the right time and the right place."

"People have kind of forgotten their manners," said Hall.  "Your food is getting cold, your ice cream is melting, all so that they can get the lighting for their picture.  It disrupts the flow of service."

One establishment that does ban photos altogether -- not in the name of food but for the sake of privacy -- is SoHo House New York in the city's Meatpacking District, an exclusive members-only club.

In an email to ABC News, Jacki Spillane of SoHo House said, "SoHo House New York does have a no photography policy within the Club.  SoHo House is a private members club, we have this policy to respect and maintain our members' privacy."

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