1.23.2012

Weird-o-graphy for Restaurant Business Magazine.


A while back (early 2000's) I got a phone call from one of my favorite clients, the art director at Restaurant Business Magazine.  When she called I usually got to shoot things like a premier chef showing off his chops while making an incredible duck recipe.  We'd shoot and talk and then, after we were pretty sure we had the shot. we'd all sit down, crack a nice bottle of wine and take a crack at the duck as well.  Other assignments introduced me to the brothers who own the legendary San Antonio restaurant, Mi Tierra.  I even drove the six hours to Laredo once to photograph the one great chef in the region, at the time...

This assignment was different.  Austin was one of the first cities in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and the gentleman in the photo above, Vic,  (owner of Vic's Restaurant) was the protest hold out in the implementation of the law.  Seems smokers comprised an overwhelming majority of his clientele and, according to Vic, they spent more per person than non-smokers.  His basic philosophy could pretty much be distilled down to, "I don't require people to smoke.  But they can if they'd like."

I packed the usual jumble of lights and stands and softboxes, and I packed a couple of Mamiya Six medium format cameras along with the trio of Mamiya Six lenses, and headed over the the "Y" at Oakhill.  That's where two Texas Highways come together just west of Austin and just outside the front gate of Freescale Semiconductor's front gate.

I walked in, met Vic and looked around.  Half of the restaurant was kinda cordoned off and I learned that this was where Vic practiced his second business, repairing computers.

The bar at which Vic is sitting faces a wall of windows so I immediately discarded the idea of lighting anything and instead went available light with the 75mm lens and camera on a tripod.  I shot two twelve exposure rolls and ended up with just the look of defiance the magazine was looking for.

I packed the car and headed to the lab.  That's how we did things back then.  The next morning I picked up the MF transparency film, edited it and chunked it into a Fed Ex envelope because, that's how we did things back then.

Of all the cameras I've owned and sold I regret most selling the Mamiya Six cameras.  They were absolute magic.  They could make a photographer better.  No matter what people say.  Some times the Indian likes to shoot with a really perfect, absolutely straight arrow.  Especially a magic one.

10 comments:

Greg Brophy said...

Beautiful Portrait. Their is something about the color that love. I still have a Mamiya 645 that I learned on in college. I have been wanting to get a Mamiya rangefinder for a long time.

Dan Higgins said...

I was blown away by the visual story in this portrait before I read your post. Thanks!!

Silvertooth said...

You can almost smell the restaurant and feel the formica on the counter from the color in that protrait. It is amazing. Thank you for sharing this one. Have a wonderful week.

Don Schulte said...

I remember Vic's very well as we live out past the "Y". We would never go in because it was the "smoky" restaurant. Wonderful portrait; you did capture that simmering defiance.

Dave Jenkins said...

I liked the Mamiya Six, but of all the cameras I've owned, the one I most regret selling is the Pentax 6x7. (Although I made more money with the Mamiya RB67.)

ezpoppy said...

Oh. My. God. Kirk. I could not agree with you more on the Mamiya 6. If any camera was close to perfection, that one was. I, too, regret having sold my 6 and the absolutely gorgeous 50mm. I vow to fix that and soon.

Ed Waring said...

Lovely photo Kirk. Just wanted to say that (I guess) like a lot of your regular readers I play "spot the camera" with the pictures at the top of each post. Something in the toning and apparent sharpness of this one reminded me of the V1 images an awful lot? Or am I just getting delusional?

sey said...

the "screw you" look and body language coupled with the lighting and colour makes for a great story teller.

Sam said...

Stunning portrait, Kirk. Always wanted a Mamiya 6 and you are not helping things...

integrative marketing agency said...

Funny post. I like your blog and I come back to read some other stories.