The Photographer’s Story: the great Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tion that is the diner

Lonely Planet (UK) - - In This Issue... - ANDREW HETHER­ING­TON ANDREW HETHER­ING­TON is a photographer based in NYC. See more of his work at @wt­jack­anory and ahether­ing­

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.

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