Grand Entrance, Klamath Falls, Oregon, 2008
In 1930’s, small town restaurants offered grand promises. Such is the case with this humble Chinese restaurant that still operates on Klamath Falls’ main street. I photographed its marquee from below, moving in to stress the vintage color scheme and art deco design. I reveal its workings as well – the neon tubing is evident, as are the wires that support the structure itself.
Dining alone, McCloud, California, 2008
I stress the solitary nature of this dining experience by isolating this figure eating at the counter of a small town coffee shop. I made this image through the front window, spot metering on the splash of light that illuminates his elbow. As a result, much of the image goes dark. It leaves him in silence, alone with his breakfast and his thoughts.
Pedaling to breakfast, McCloud. California, 2008
In this image, we begin on the outside and finish on the inside, moving through a series of photographic layers in the process. The bicycle is the key to this picture – it symbolizes a small town, where people often pedal to breakfast. It is a town built on trust as well – there are no locks bolting the bike to the post. The bike is painted in vivid primary colors, creating a focal point for the entire image. The restaurant, with its old barrel and peeling paint, offers context. Finally, we travel to a third layer, the interior of the restaurant itself. We see diners, deep in shadow, and a waitress waiting to take orders. The yellow light fixtures running deep within the restaurant replicate the color of the bike, bringing us full circle.
Morning coffee, Greenville, California, 2008
I enjoy making images of diners – if they are locals, they can give us insights into the town we are visiting. My prime cameras are always equipped with flip out viewfinders, allowing me to use my table in lieu of a tripod. This image was made at a slow shutter speed – 1/10th of a second – requiring table support. Because the camera stays down on the table, and I never hold a camera up to my face, my subjects are rarely aware that I am taking their pictures. I like the way this man’s eyes wanders as he sips his coffee – his thoughts are elsewhere at this moment. His grasp is firm, and his threadbare cap tells us a bit about who he is.
Antelope Café, Antelope, Oregon, 2008
This is the only café in Antelope, a small town that has probably seen better days. Yet tourists do come to Antelope to photograph its decaying buildings, and some stop here for a cup of coffee and a muffin. I made this image of its lone employee as I talked with her about the future of Antelope. She seems resigned to her task, yet she talks also of opportunities elsewhere. She is surrounded by the details that make a café a café. The menus, posters, and decorations tell us what she sells, and where she is.
Soda Fountain, Bend, Oregon, 2008
Her straw is pink, while his is green. They share a quiet moment here, while enjoying their ice cream sodas. Yet each savors the moment in a different way, she wonders, while he sips. What can they be thinking? That is the question this image asks of its viewers.
Sandwich Shop, Bend, Oregon, 2008
This image is all about decisions. The wall surrounding the kitchen window is covered with choices, options, and consequences. This diner has apparently made her choice of meal, and now must figure out where to sit. She balances a book under one arm as she carriers her meal towards us. There is enough information in this image for us to gauge both the nature of the person and the place.
Family luncheon, Bend, Oregon, 2008
I made this image because of the child’s reaction to my camera. He is the only person at the table paying any attention to me – the others are enjoying their lunch, and serve as context. It was very dark in the restaurant, requiring me to use a slow shutter speed of 1/10th of a second. The little boy’s hands are blurred. He is animated, and his smile tells the story here. This is image is all about curiosity and pleasure. He sits at the head of the table and shows the most emotion.
Quiet time, Bend,Oregon, 2008
The face of this diner is obscured by shadow – he has turned away from the window light to read his paper while he waits for his order to arrive. The shadows lend a quiet tone to the image and call attention to his gray hair, which, in turn, echoes the texture and color of the grayish grass in the western print just behind him. He is oblivious to the activity of the horses in that print, and he has tuned out the noise of the restaurant as well. He only has eyes for the news of the day.
Sunrise at Starbuck’s, Bend, Oregon, 2008
I watch the way people move in relationship to each other in tight spaces of a public restaurant and try to photograph the moment when both mood and meaning are best expressed. Such is the case here – the woman seems to be caught up in her thoughts, and does not turn to look at a construction working putting cream in his coffee only a few feet behind her. Her expression is neutral – she could be a mannequin. He learns slightly towards her, yet does not seem aware that someone is sitting only inches from his elbow. It is an early morning ballet of strangers, unconscious of each other’s presence.
Waitress at work, Greenville, California, 2008
The blinds of this restaurant were drawn, blocking out the afternoon sun, and in the process, abstracting both the waitress clearing one of the tables, and a family eating at the next table. The backlighting creates silhouettes that emphasize form rather than detail. The family ignores the presence of the waitress, who bends towards her work only a few feet behind them. The darkness in the lower half of the frame underscores the fact that she works here by herself, alone and essentially ignored.