Today more and more people are reviewing their dining experiences on such forums as Facebook and TripAdvisor. Many of these reviews include photos of their food and surroundings. Sometimes in these photos members of the staff, such as waiters or baristas, are either purposely or inadvertently included in the images. If this is the case, should permission be sought from that individual before posting the image?

  • 1
    Did you talk with the people at all about their presence in the photos before you took them?
    – HDE 226868
    Jul 4, 2017 at 19:28
  • Personally, I do try to avoid getting people into the shot, but I have at times inadvertently got them in anyway. So no advance conversation took place, thus the question which is in part how to proceed in the future.
    – r m
    Jul 4, 2017 at 19:34
  • So, your question is about the restaurant staff, not about the other restaurant customers, right?
    – nic
    Jul 5, 2017 at 2:52
  • Yes, the question focuses on staff , in part because, if their image is later found to be in the picture they are more easily contacted if permission is deemed socially appropriate they are more easily located to ask.
    – r m
    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:17
  • 2
    I feel like this is more of a legal question. I have seen variants of this question on Photo SE as well. I'm not saying this is off topic, I'm just adding my few cents.
    – 10 Replies
    Jul 12, 2017 at 16:12

4 Answers 4


I would endeavor to keep others out of the photos in the first place, as you really never know when someone needs to avoid detection.

I am reminded of a workshop I once gave to educators. The workshop went really well, and the teachers there enjoyed it very much. I also had photographs taken, and intended to put them on my website. When the workshop itself ended, I was pulled aside by the building administrator, who told me, "Please be careful with those photographs. Suzie (not her real name) moved to this community with her daughter last year, and has been fleeing her abusive ex-husband. She and her daughter could be in a lot of danger if he figures out where she is living now."

Therefore, I would blur out faces or ask permission before posting unknown strangers.


In professional photography, it's good to ask as a matter of etiquette, but it isn't technically or legally required in most places in the US.

As far as I understand when people are in public places there isn't a reasonable expectation of privacy, so taking and later posting photographs is technically ok.

But there are corner cases as mentioned in Ben's answer.

Some people have very good reason to not want to have their picture posted, so if you're taking photos where someone could be easily identified it's good to ask.

Generally when taking photos of places or events I don't worry too much about wide crowd shots, but if I'm taking a photo of a person I make a point to ask, and be clear about what I intend to use the photo for.

The usual spiel goes something like this:

Hi, I'm So and So, I'm taking pictures for Such and Such website. Do you mind if I take your picture for our upcoming story about this thing?

Take the photo or not depending

Great, thanks, do you mind if I take down your name?

Thanks again, we're hoping to post by this date

Check it out on example.com


If they are recognizable in the photograph, then yes--absolutely.

Using someone's image in a publicly-displayed place is illegal when it is for a commercial or exploitative purpose. And a restaurant review is commercial, whether you yourself are making money or not.

Although this sounds like a remnant from a far-away age, people have a moral right to live their lives without unnecessary molestation or exploitation. All this internet / mobile phone stuff is still somewhat new to the culture, but common manners and decent respect for the rights of others are still not obsolete.

Any decent imaging software will allow you to blur portions of a photograph. If you feel that you must post this photo, then anonymize the faces of others that haven't given their explicit permission.


There are several different things possibly going on here. I'm assuming you're not asking about the legal side of the question, since that will very much depend on your area. In some areas, posting the food with people in the background would be illegal without getting permission from those people.

However, since this is posted on IPS, I'm assuming the question has more to do with how it is socially viewed, and how others will take having pictures of them in the public.

For the majority of people, as others have already said, there won't really be that much of an issue. If I see a picture of myself on Facebook behind a picture of food, I'm more likely to go, "Hey, that's me!" and show it to my friends than "How dare they!"

So long as the article you are taking a picture of is generally viewed as a relatively amoral subject, most people won't care peanuts that their picture is on the web.

That being said, there is so much easy photo editing software available, I'd just take the trouble to blur out the faces "just in case." If there's no real good reason to have people's faces in the pictures, play it safe. In any case, if it's well done, blurring the faces will tend to draw the attention more toward the article and less toward the surroundings.

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