Gritty.

I

t started this way. This picture was made at the very beginning of my career. I worked for a chain of tiny newspapers in rural Southwest Virginia. We thought we were pretty good and most of the time we were.

The two biggest photo subjects were sports and stand alone art. The former you understand. The latter are pictures that can be used as needed. That’s what this photograph was intended to do. A space filler.

We started a new product designed as a tab, meaning magazine style. It was really intended as another way of selling advertising. Unfortunately for the ad department, we took it seriously. We saw it as a prime display section.

We had a short deadline for the first edition. It hit me, we hadn’t used the welder yet. So, that was the cover. I followed him around for a while so I made a nice picture story which we used to fill the center of the paper.

It was printed at night when the press wasn’t running with the dailies. The advertising department never saw it until it was printed. They had multiple heart attacks and went roaring off to the publisher.

I’m no fool.

I already showed and pitched it to the executive editor and we pitched it to the publisher. When the ad manager ran into the publisher’s office and held up the newspaper, the publisher smiled and said, “pretty good isn’t it?”

He liked it so much that even though it was intended to sell ads, it would feature photos and photo stories. That was great until I realized that meant more work for me.

No good dead goes unpunished.


Barrista pulling my coffee.
Barista pulling my coffee.

So this is a Mardi Gras picture… and it isn’t. When I work, I like to know the lay of the land. Or, at least where the good coffee houses are located. This place is a little tiny four table hole in the wall, but I really enjoyed it. It is located on St. Charles Avenue right where the parades get started, so it was very convenient for me. After two trips there, this guy knew my drink and had it ready by the time I got to the counter. We talked a bit so he knew that I was working and needed to refuel every so often. The really great thing about all of the coffee shops and coffee houses is 90% of the people going inside to get something to drink are going into bars. You can figure out why for someone like me who just wants coffee. No lines. Or, if there is a line it’s two people long. More importantly, friendly people.

So. This picture. I photograph just about everything. I thought this moment might make a good picture so I just pushed the button a couple of times. He looked up and smiled. When things finally settle down, I’ll make a couple of prints and top them by his shop. Oh. Usually I work for bright, energetic colors. I thought that I would tone things back a bit in this image.