What kind of photographer am I?

Don't look now

Now that the dust has settled on the 52 weeks project, I can start to figure out what kind of photographer I am. I carry a camera almost everywhere I go, so I could see myself as a landscape photographer, a portrait photographer, a street photographer, an architectural photographer, a still life photographer, and plenty more.

But what I love to do most is take pictures in bars and pubs. I’m not even sure why, but I am at my happiest with a beer and a camera and an old fashioned bar. There’s something about the light, the dim interior, contrasted with the window light that shines in and picks out the sheen on a table, the varnish on the back of a chair or the bubbles in a glass of beer.

There is one obvious problem – though the first beer might be good for the photographer, once the glass is refilled it’s a downhill slope.

So perhaps I am just a one shot beer photographer.

But to be honest, there are worse things to be.

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8 comments

  1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with photography and pubs. I enjoy both whenever possible. But I do have a suggestion to extend a shoot, Diane Arbus-style, beyond one beer. Arrive early in a place you’ve never been. With the owner’s permission, hand your camera to each new arrival with the understanding that the first pint is free if he or she will take a picture (of anything or anyone in the pub) before taking a sip. Continue until closing or the money runs out. In a more sober setting, evaluate the results and decide if you can or should return with the inevitable successful photographs.

  2. I think so, Carolyn, but not a drunk photographer. That wouldn’t be cool at all.

    Brian – it’s an interesting idea, but I wonder if I got it right. You buy other people their beer, and they take the shots? I can see it would help put people at their ease, and it’s a much more respectful way than just turning the camera on them without asking, which especially in a pub, I wouldn’t be happy with.

  3. The idea was inspired by a stop at a small bar in Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas, while on a cross-country motorcycle trip. I was freezing and ordered a whiskey to warm up with. The place only served beer, which is not unusual in America. To counteract my disappointment, I bought a round for the house. A safe proposition considering there were only three of us in the place, including the bartender and an old man sitting in the corner. While I tried to warm up with a cold beer, the old man bar walked out. Then I noticed every wall, and even the ceiling, was completely covered with fading Polaroids, taken during livelier times. The bartender said he would pass around a camera when things got rolling, buying film with tips. It was fascinating to see so many people having had so much fun in this small, dark bar. Then the old man came back in, carrying a bottle of Jack Daniels. Without a word, he poured about three fingers worth into my now empty beer glass.

    Oh yes, by all means stand a stranger to a beer. In the right establishment, your kindness will be repaid many times over.

  4. Great shot. Great post. Yes a one shot beer photographer is pretty cool. I’m just another try to make kids look cute photographer (I have in my advantage that most kids photograph cute regardless)

  5. I love the people in the background of the photo. They are like the people I see in my dreams: familiar but impossible to name or place.

  6. Shin – I have no kids so I have to make do with beer. I loved your recent Milan shots, especially this one.

    Thanks Jeremy. Don’t tell Ron, but they were as much a subject of the shot as he was.

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