Ode To The Thoughtless Photographer
I hope they turned out great, those photos you took in the café this morning. I was standing behind you for a while, not because I wanted to admire your technique or your huge dSLR camera, but because I was trying to reach for a small brioche and you were in my way.
You weren’t singling me out, though, because a lot of customers in this small, busy cafe were also forced to wait while you perfected your composition. It’s always like that in this place. That’s why there are so many staff, helping customers follow the process: collect food here, use tongs, place items on trays, take them to the counter, work out the bill, then pay. Rules and routines make a small, busy place like this function, despite the crowds.
I’m particularly curious about the photo you took of the pain viennois, those long-ridged rolls of bread that drew you in closer and closer. I’m sure your lens was clean enough to eat off, since you held it for so long only centimetres away from the tray of food. You probably knew this tray was about ¥4000 worth of product for the cafe. If you were an official photographer for the cafe they would’ve discussed this. You’re no doubt you aware, food photographers – the ones who do this for a living – often photograph food that won’t be eaten by the public, because the process of making food photos often results in something that wouldn’t pass a health inspector’s scrutiny.
Perhaps your classiest move was to leave your huge, sippy cup of tepid Starbucks next to another tray of freshly baked croissants. I was in two minds whether to reach for one, but then a craving for my favourite afternoon treat inspired me throw caution to the wind, reach past the finger marks on your cup, and grab a pastry from the opposite end of the tray. I’m sure the café management, who have worked hard to create a unique, recognisable brand, also enjoyed seeing your Starbucks cup placed prominently in front of one of the their signature items. The staff certainly noticed it.
I admire how politely they turned you down when you tried to take photos of the main table area. Your sad, wounded expression suggested you aren’t used to being told no. Perhaps that’s why you took an extra long suck from your sippy cup, perhaps to drown the disappointment in lukewarm caffeine. The irony being, of course, you were only a metre or so away from the cafe’s own machine and patrons collecting their own fresh cups of hot coffee.
It makes me sad I’ll probably never see your photos and be able to judge if they were any good, and whether the inconvenience and embarrassment you caused others was worth it. Something makes me think they weren’t.