The waitress steps out of her door and walks to where her customers are sitting. They’ve nearly finished their drinks; are they ready to order? They seem more interested in talking than choosing from the menu. “Can you give us five minutes?” “Yes, OK.” She walks back and steps in through the door. A few seconds later, she emerges again, and takes up her position by the door, where she is out of the way but can see and be seen. She waits. Now is my moment.
A little under a month ago, I asked what it is that makes a good photo. And I said that, “for me, the three principles of encapsulation, orientation, and colour-toning are all present in a photo that I consider to be good.” Not just present, but used well. And while they’re necessary, on their own they’re not sufficient. There must be something else, or it’s a good-enough photo.
When the waitress took up her position by the door, I knew as I watched that everything was coming together. Often, as I raise my camera, someone moves, the tableau is broken, the photo is just good enough. By the time I realised that everything had already come together, my camera shutter had clicked.
Back on the PC, it was obvious that the image could work in mono or colour. But the story is simple, and timeless, so mono works better. There’s already plenty of detail and interest in the wording on the window and in the menu. Leave the colour in and all that can easily turn into clutter.
The couple are in their own frame, in the right-hand two-thirds of the image; the waitress is in her one one-third frame. They are centre-screen and dressed in light colours, she is way off to the left, almost out of frame, dressed in dark, almost in the dark. Other customers are visible, inside the restaurant, and it’s obvious that this is not their story. Encapsulation, orientation, colour toning.
And a story. I deliberately used the alliterative title, Waitress Waiting, both to grab (and direct) the viewer’s attention and to reveal the story in just two words. Yes, I know that ‘waitress’ is an old-fashioned word, perhaps non-PC, but it works.
The photo got into Flickr Explore and at the time of writing had over 6,000 views and more than 140 favourites. One of my good ones.
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
— Barack Obama