I find myself increasingly looking for themes to follow in my photography: common threads in photographs I’ve already taken and inspiration for new concepts to look out for in future work. In deciding on a photo to publish this evening, I think I may have found another little theme to work on alongside The Harbour Wall.
It’s window seats in restaurants, preferably empty.
I love the quiet calm of finding oneself in a cafe or restaurant with very few patrons; when you can pick out a window seat and watch the world go by with nowhere to be in a hurry.
The photograph at the top of this post is from one such occasion when I was in California and took a drive down the coast from San Francisco towards Big Sur.
After a morning spent around Point Lobos, I found myself at the Highlands Inn for lunch. The hotel was mostly empty and so I sat by the window, looking down on the Pacific coast on a glorious January day.
I watched a white car pull up down below, its occupants getting out to admire the view, and took a couple of quick snaps with the Fuji X-T2 and the vintage Asahi Pentax 55mm F1.8 lens I had just bought a couple of days earlier.
Travelling alone can unsurprisingly get lonely at times and at others the peace of being alone with your thoughts is pure bliss.
I had already had a lovely morning of photography hiking around state park at Point Lobos and trying out my 3 ‘new’ vintage lenses (the Pentax 55, a Pentax 135mm F3.5 and the Soligor 100-300mm F5 Macro) and to find such a lovely hotel restaurant at just the right time, with a great view and good food, the weekend had started out almost too good to be true.
While waiting for my food and still taking every opportunity to play with the new lens and learn its characteristics, I took an image of the scene right in front of me: a couple of empty tables with the sun filtering through the large viewing windows and half-drawn blinds.
I’ve loved the result since I took the image three years ago. It takes me right back to that moment in the restaurant up a hill in California and really captures the feeling of being there.
As with many of my images, the photo has sat in my ‘To publish’ queue in Lightroom for some time until I re-found another, similarly themed image from closer to home and another 18 months earlier.
Taken in the now-closed restaurant at the back of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, it also shows my view in a mostly-empty restaurant with some lovely light. The memory of the Carmel image was triggered and I got that flash of inspiration and enthusiasm this could be a theme to explore some more.
This second, earlier image had been taken on a similarly blissful day: a relaxed wander down through Greenwich Park in the summer sun with my then-heavily-pregnant wife, just a couple of weeks before the birth of our eldest. Having meant to try this nicer restaurant at the museum a few times, we gave it a go and found it completely empty (possibly one of the reasons it shut down!).
The food was pretty good and, with the place to ourselves, we had a lovely time.
Now, as a theme for a series, catching blissful life moments that happen to occur in empty restaurants with beautiful light is probably a tall order. These two triggers however, have at least planted the seed in my mind to watch out for further opportunities and who knows: given another 5 years or so maybe I’ll have taken at least another two images to add to the series!