Brooklyn Cafe Cracks Down on Elaborate Photo Shoots

Dae has drawn the line

Digital camera
Maybe don't bring this with you when you lunch.
Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It isn’t strange to want to take a photograph of something that brings you joy. That can take a lot of forms — including elegant interior design, a stunning piece of art or a delicious-looking meal. Where things get a little more challenging, though, is when taking a photo — or photos — of something winds up overshadowing the experience of actually experiencing something.

The debate over where to draw the line has led to heated discussions about smartphone use at concerts and museums’ photography policies. And it’s led one cafe in Brooklyn to take a stand against elaborate photo shoots — something that, as Curbed’s Clio Chang writes, was getting out of hand.

The establishment in question is called Dae, and if the photos on its Instagram account are any indication, it is indeed a visually striking space. Earlier this year, Eater’s report on the space’s opening told readers to “[e]xpect butter sculptures, and cocktails like one with Korean rice wine, barley tea, elderflower syrup, and shiso oil” — all of which sounds great.

At issue is people coming in to the space and engaging in elaborate photo shoots. As Chang writes, Dae expanded a no-laptop policy to include recording video and photography other than brief photos taken while seated. Co-owner Carol Song told Curbed that some customers “would just get one drink and stay for two hours shooting.”

Where Do We Draw the Line With Selfie Tourists?
Selfie at a Miranda Lambert concert? OK. Selfie in the middle of the Tour de France that causes a major crash? Not OK.

That does feel like a violation of etiquette — as well as an existential threat to a business. There’s nothing wrong with taking a photo to preserve a particular moment (or meal, or drink) for posterity. But it seems far too easy to take this a step too far, and in doing so damage the very thing you’re looking to preserve.


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