Or is there?
This is a slightly unusual post as it's not about food - it's about food blogging and my first uncomfortable experiences as a food blogger. Now, to give you some background, I have not been food blogging that long. It has been less than 6 months, but it has been an absolute pleasure. I have learnt a lot, seen a lot and have met some truly wonderful people. However, my experiences over the weekend have left me feeling, well... a bit 'icky'.
Over the weekend I visted two stores in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I will not name names because this is not a name and shame exercise. Dear readers, I am seeking your advice. So here is what happened...
On Saturday I visit a produce store. It is my first visit and I am impressed. Luckily I have my camera with me in the car, so I bring it in and start to take some snaps of the amazing produce and deli section. I order a cheese from the deli that I have been searching for forever, and I start chatting with the lovely man serving me, who is only to happy to answer my questions about different types of cheeses. I take another picture or so, then look up to see a cranky face looking right at me.. I am assuming she is the owner. "Madam, may I ask why you're taking photos?!" she enquires looking rather alarmed. "Oh", I say, rather taken aback.."I have a food blog and I wanted to share with my readers where people can get this type of cheese because it's hard to find in Sydney". "Right", she replies unenthusiastically and walks away. After she says this, I feel like I've done something terribly wrong. I pay for my cheese and leave, and I question whether I need to ask permission to take photos each and every place I go.
On Sunday I visit the second store as I have done several times before but this time I am equipped with my big camera hanging around my neck and my shopping basket in my hand. The produce is looking great and there is a special buzz in the air because it's a weekend. Given my experience the day before, I approach what appears to be the store manager and politely explain that I am a food blogger, and ask would she mind if I take a couple of pictures. "Um no, sorry", she replies as she walks away. Again, I am left feeling a little uncomfortable and embarassed.
I am puzzled. I understand that business owners are protective of their business. However, what I don't understand is why they do not see it as a wonderful opportunity to promote their business through online media - for free I might add... Food blogging is of course more than this, but I'm trying to look at it from a business owner's prespective. So, I guess in summary this is what I am having trouble getting my head around...
- Am I wrong to feel as though I have done something bad?
- Is it that they assume I will write something negative when in reality I would have had only positive things to say (apart from the abovementioned negative experiences)?
- Is it that they think someone will copy something from their store? If so, surely any such intellectual property could be "stolen" simply by walking in as a member of the public and making a mental note of it.
Now, I must say I have never had such experiences in cafes/restaurants. But after the weekend I feel so awkward about the prospect of taking photos at the next place (store, restaurant or other)! And if I feel awkward, then that will probably impede on my enjoyment, let alone the likelihood of my blogging about it.
So tell me, my dear fellow food bloggers.. has this ever happened to you? How do you get around it? I would appreciate your advice :)