The Photographer’s Story: the great American institution that is the diner
I shot diners on the East Coast and the West Coast for this project. It was great to realise that the American diner is still alive and well, considering the Starbucks culture that can be found on every corner. I could still see how important these places are as a cornerstone of their communities. The waiters and waitresses are the glue that holds them together. There is great pride in what these people do – and the menus haven’t changed in decades. Shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on American TV have actually brought a lot of interest to these places. Most of the diners I shot have been featured on that show and have a menu item that they are famous for, which has caused people to seek them out. My method was to get to the diner early in the morning, so I could set up and become part of the furniture for both the front of house staff and the customers. People got used to the camera and lights quickly enough, and I could focus on capturing their usual routines. I like to sit at the counter, so I can watch the interactions between the staff and customers. It’s always fun to watch the line cooks work; the interactions between them and the waiters are like a ballet.