learning, Photography, street, Uncategorized

Confidence Building Part 3. The Barista Project

The previous post, #4 left off with the results of my 1st experiences on the street using initially my iPhone and then using my Nikon D3200 with 35mm f/1.18 lens. This post describes the first project with specific goals.

By way of background, the Salt Spring Coffee Company cafe in Ganges, Salt Spring Island has been a very popular watering hole for locals and tourists, since it’s beginning almost 17 years ago ( I could be out a year or so). I’ve been a regular patron for 13 years. For some time before my concerted interest in becoming a street photographer, I witnessed many memorable exchanges between staff and patrons and between staff. These observations became heightened when I started viewing them with more of a “photographer’s eye”. The idea of a candid photo project with the Baristas as the main targets developed quite quickly in my mind. Three goals became apparent:

1) attempt to capture the special exchanges that occurred with the baristas and patrons, and between baristas themselves;

2) develop a greater knowledge of camera functions and settings in less than ideal lighting conditions, and

3) increase my level of confidence in my ability to make fairly decent photographs both technically and artistically.

Getting Buy-In

I met with the manager and he polled the staff to see if they were willing to participate. Everyone signed on and I acquired an email address for each participant (8 in all).  I sent an email describing the goals of the project and asked them to the degree possible not to doing anything different (admittedly difficult with a camera a close range, 3-6 feet). I also assured them that the photos would not be uploaded to social networks or photography sites.

The Photo Sessions

I spent a lot of time observing how the baristas moved, where most of the activity occurred, attempting to develop a sense of where an opportunity might arise. I took a few initial shots with the iPhone and compared them with ones from the D3200. Lighting was a big difficulty. There are very bright overhead lights in the cafe which would project shadows from pretty much every angle.  As a result all of the baristas have “raccoon eyes”. These could be removed post-processing, but that would have entailed too much work and have taken too long.

The Results

I managed to capture many great moments. Technically many shots are not as crisp and clear, but for he most part I am very satisfied I achieved my three goals for the project. I prepared a movie maker slide-show and uploaded it as a private clip to You Tube. I then plugged in the staff email addresses and let everyone know.


When I returned to the cafe a few days later the staff asked if I would remove the private restrictions so they could share it with friends and family. I was glad to do that, so now it is out there for everyone.

The project continues, it is not yet over. Two of the staff suggested I expand the project and take shots of  locals who’ve been supporting the café for years. I tested out the idea with 9 long time “regulars” and received an enthusiastic response. So, the journey continues.

For the next post, I will describe some of the other confidence building activities I’ve tried. As a reminder, almost everything I’m doing has in some way or another, either directly or indirectly come from my research and reading on street photography websites. These invaluable articles, suggestions, tips and encouragement have been generously provided by those ESPs who are much further along the path than I.



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