I absolutely love drinking coffee. My favorite are the fine coffees, i.e. the ones that are made with a strong espresso and a decent quantity of milk, and then the barrista creates little works of art from espresso and milk. Works of art like hearts, swans, tulips, or dinosaurs. Works of art that you would rather photograph than drink.
At home I usually have a regular coffee with a dash of milk. No works of art, but no less delicious.
I don’t only enjoy drinking coffee, I also like taking photos of it. Maybe on my kitchen table, next to a magazine or a bunch of flowers, or on my desk, next to my keyboard and a pile of notebooks. But my favorite is photographing coffee, tarts, cakes, and other dishes in a proper Café or restaurant.
Cafés have a magical attraction for me. It doesn’t matter whether the furnishings are plain and modern, or retro and cool, or comfy and old-fashioned. It doesn’t matter how different they are, I like them! I like the atmosphere, the aroma of coffee in the air, and I like watching the people there.
I particularly like it if the café is really busy, when the guests press around small or large tables, have animated discussions, talk and laugh, and maybe even cry a little.
In situations like this I find it particularly easy to grab my camera and take a photo of my coffee. It is not so conspicuous then and I don’t get funny looks from people.
But I also enjoy it when a café is not so busy. When people sit at a table by themselves, enjoying a coffee with a book in their hand. Or a cell phone. Or they are leafing through an old magazine which has been handled by many other guests before. When couples are sitting close together, sharing a piece of apple cake, talking quietly, whispering, and smiling.
In these circumstances I sometimes hesitate to just pull my camera out of my bag. And yet, in most cases I still do it. Although it is really nothing unusual these days to be taking photos with your cell phone in public, however, holding a camera whose shutter noise can be heard clearly at a neighboring table frequently attracts some strange looks.
I try not to be intimidated by this and continue to reach for my camera. I love photographing a still life comprised of a cup of coffee, a piece of cake, a well-read magazine, and a table setting. Often tables in a café or restaurant look utilized and well-used. They tell a story and offer a wonderful photo background.
Furthermore, a lot of cafés use unusual, old, or colorful crockery. A cup of coffee with a pretty floral pattern, or maybe a little kitsch along the edge, makes a lovely photo motive for me.
My tips for taking photos in cafés or restaurants: Dare to do it! Just ignore the funny looks and get out your camera. If you want to photograph more than just your own coffee, like perhaps the furnishings, then ask the waiter or waitress whether you are allowed to take photos inside the café. Find a table near a source of light – next to a window would be best. Personally, I prefer photographing a set table from above. You will usually attract even more attention to yourself with this, but maybe your slightly crazy passion will help to start up a conversation with a guest at a neighboring table.
Bine has been blogging since 2007 at “was eigenes”. The topics of her blogs are a colorful mixture of things she has experienced or created, of culinary delights, and a dash of something personal. Photography plays a big part in this.