Origin chef Claudio Aprile once posted a note railing against "food critics and wannabe food critics... with huge zoom lenses and flashes that induce seizures" and wreck the dining experience for everyone else. He's not alone among chefs, but like it or not, the proliferation of food blogs, Yelp and Instagram has turned everyone with a thesaurus into an amateur critic and everyone with a smartphone into a still life photographer.
Whether they like it or not, that's pushed many T.O. restaurants to get more creative with their plating, catering as much to your lens as to your stomach. Here's how to get the most out of your shots.
Use natural light
Not only does your flash annoy other diners, but there's a good chance it'll ruin your close-up by blowing out the dish with too much light. Grab a table next to a window or under a light fixture and you won't need the extra light source.
Two phones are better than one
As dimly lit restaurants become the hipster norm, finding a decent light source can be difficult at night. If you're dining with friends, use one of their phones to light the dish and yours to shoot it.
Keep it simple, stupid
Indulge your inner Leonardo all you want, but what you see on the tiny screen of your phone is probably what you'll get. Make your photos thumbnail-friendly by avoiding clutter and focusing only on the dish you want to show off.
Consider the background
There's no one way to frame a food shot. Experimenting with angles and perspectives can lead to more interesting compositions, but a dish will almost always look better against a white background. Your napkin is an easy cheat.
"Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera." So read an all-caps plea posted on the door of New York's Webster Hall at a recent homecoming gig by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
In recent years, everyone from Jack White to our own hometown hero, the Weeknd, has attempted to ban smartphones at shows, railing against mediated viewing and obstruction of other fans' sightlines. But just as many bands and venues have softened their stance on bootlegging (make whatever rules you want - there will be still be fuzzy, shaky clips on YouTube the next day), and some are accepting that, with or without approval, smartphone photography will happen. With these tips, it can even be good.
Work with what you've got Your flash not only annoys artists and fellow fans, but doesn't make for good-looking photos. That can be a conundrum, since low-ISO speeds on smartphone cameras make it tough to shoot in low light. The solution: time your shots to musicians' own light set-ups, using their interesting colours and effects to your advantage.
If you can, get close Here's a secret: your camera's "zoom" function is actually just a crop. Don't use it. Instead, try to get as close as you can to the band and shoot from any interesting angle you can find. Don't feel obligated to focus only on the lead singer either. You might miss an epically strained guitar face.
Can't get close? Get high You don't want to be the obnoxious fan elbowing his or her way through a sardine-packed audience, so if you find yourself at the back of the venue, use it to your advantage. Survey the scene. Sometimes a shot of a sprawling festival crowd is more interesting than the performer onstage. If all else fails, steady your phone with both hands and reach as high as you can for a Hail Mary shot.
Don't miss your shot Unlike officially accredited photographers, you don't have to abide by the "first three songs only" rule. That's good news - unless they're deliberately posing, the big solo or rafter-swinging probably won't happen until much later in the set. Know where the "slide to camera" shortcut is on your phone (or create one) and stay ready.
For a practice once synonymous with Myspace tweens and high-angle duckface, smartphone self-portraits, or "selfies," have become surprisingly socially and politically charged. But as cultural critics attempt to parse whether they're performative re-appropriations of the oppressive male gaze or reinforcements of same (or just viral millennial narcissism), social networking sites are filling up with self-portraits, many of them sloppily angled and hastily framed.
Sure, selfies are amateurish by nature, but that's no reason why you shouldn't try to capture your subject's best side. Especially since your subject is you.
Shoot inwards Many smartphones, like the iPhone 4 and newer, include a second, inward-facing camera specifically for self-shooting. That removes the awkward arm reach or mirror shot of traditional selfies while sacrificing resolution. Still, it's worth it to avoid the guessing game as long as you don't look down at your camera. A chin-up selfie isn't a good look for anybody.
Find the right environment You probably wouldn't want someone else to snap a photo of you in the bathroom, so why are you doing it to yourself? If you must use a mirror, avoid the flash; even if doesn't block your face, that little circle of light is a distracting cliché. Natural outdoor light is usually most flattering.
Hold steady Shooting a selfie can be a tricky one-handed game. While you're struggling to steady your phone, you're probably cropping yourself in strange ways or contorting your face in concentration. Try using the interval during your smartphone's auto-timer function to steady yourself before the shutter traps you. Or MacGyver yourself a tripod. A shoe works in a pinch.