A lonely lunch


I was eating lunch with my dad in a newish downtown restaurant. We ate chicken and waffles and tried to talk over the blaring music. The place was basically empty except for the workers and a couple sitting next to the window. They seemed happy, rarely looking at their phones. They were engrossed in conversation, in each other.

I felt the same. I rarely get to spend time alone with my dad. I’m busy, my wife’s busy, my kids are busy; we all have busy lives. My parents live in South America and only come back to the States every few years. When they do come back they’re busy. We try to cram in two years into a few months but it doesn’t leave much time for father-son lunches.

So we were deep in conversation, talking about everything we could think of. Today we were mostly talking about all of the true crime things we’ve read and watched over the past few months. I worried a bit what the servers would think, we were talking about grisly murders and corrupt cops.

In a lull in the conversation something caught my eye. A beer truck stopped in front of the restaurant and braked loudly. When I turned I saw the woman sitting by the window had left and the man was left alone. Instead of a couple in love eating a meal together all I could see was a lonely man sitting by himself. The scene had completely changed. It was now a lonely lunch.

As soon as I looked I knew I had to take a picture. I even knew what I wanted it to look like: dark tones, slight silhouette, cropped at a wide angle. The scene didn’t really look at all like my vision, it was much brighter inside than the photo shows. Had I shot it the way it appeared to me the inside would have been much clearer and the outside overexposed. Not at all what I wanted.

Sometimes this happens to me, a scene appears before me and I can see in my mind what the final photo will be. With that vision in mind I can take the shot I want rather than shooting aimlessly and figuring it out in post. Sometimes I don’t get it right, or I realize my vision exceeds my skill, but I’m rarely satisfied with a picture taken without vision.