Picture this: “Food paparazzi”

Punch line: A hot dining out trend … the intersection of the foodie culture and social media … call ’em food paparazzi.

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Excerpted from brandchannel.com’s “To Cell or Not – While Dining Out”

Interested in wooing business in a challenging economy, and accommodating a younger, wired clientele, many restaurants now cater to diners who have morphed into “food paparazzi.”

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photo courtesy of JNH

Flickr, the photo-sharing website, has seen the number of pictures tagged as “food” jump from about half a million in 2008 to more than 6 million today… In the group “I Ate This” on Flickr’s site, nearly 20,000 people have uploaded more than 307,000 images of their latest meals.

Of course, this doesn’t begin to count the myriad pictures of food posted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Yelp and foodie niche social networks like Foodspotting.

Camera manufacturers are joining the trend. Nikon, Olympus and Sony sell cameras that offer “cuisine” or “food” settings, which adjust to enhance colors and textures on close-ups.

Sounds harmless enough, but the craze has detractors.

Some maitre d’s regularly face diners demanding to be moved away from camera flashes and the sound of firing shutters.

Some waiters are put off when voice recorders are used to  capture their recitation of each course.

Some chefs have had enough.

Perry’s Deli in Chicago, has gone so far as posting a sign for consumers of their signature overstuffed sandwiches:

“Attention! The use of cellular phones at Perry’s is strictly prohibited. If you are that important that you must use your phone, you should be eating in a much more upscale restaurant.”

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