Philz Coffee had a soft opening for its newest location in San Mateo (Photo #1). It was scheduled to start at 11:00 am, and when I arrived at 11:10, the joint was already jumping. I was hoping for a crowd of coffee lovers, and wasn't disappointed.
There was laughing, drinking, and noshing on a variety of complimentary baked goods (Photo #2). Boy, that traditional Kouign Amann (I read the card) sure looked good, but the last thing any photographer needs is gooey frosting smeared all over his/her equipment. I gotta tell you, it wasn't easy saying "No, thank you", but sometimes you just gotta do it. But if a smile could tell a whole story, this one would write volumes!
If you compare Photos #2 and #3, their eye level perspective allows for a good deal of the ceiling to show. I would have pursued this eye level perspective if I wanted to emphasize the architectural or decorative aspects, but instead I opted for an elevated perspective to include the barristas and the customers in the background.
I made about six images of Phil, and selected the final image by a process of elimination. Remember that you really can't monopolize too much of your subject's time, especially when he's a businessman, working the room, chatting up the customers. If you're wondering about the sometimes unconventional framing, I'll explain that later.
The big takeaway is a repetition of one of my rules to live by: A photograph is a gift. Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don't. From my point of view, I got a pretty nice shot (Photo #5), one that everybody at the Journal seemed to like. So much so that the Editor made a special place for it on Page 6, one of the few times a photo like this appeared anywhere except the Community Section.
"Hail Mary": The "Hail Mary" position, camera held high overhead and pointed downward, is usually an act of desperation. Needless to say, you can''t look through the viewfinder, so you are only guessing where the camera is actually pointed. I'm sure some photographers get pretty good at this, but I just wasn't hitting the mark, as you can see in Photo #7. Had Phil been higher in the frame, the shot might have been saved, but alas, it was not to be. Photo #5 it was.