When traveling, I mostly patronize local businesses in small towns. I never eat fast food. (And I rarely do at home.) I prefer diners, joints and eateries, where food doesn’t taste like it was manufactured to a strict formula.
When it comes to craving a jolt of coffee, I never go to a major chain because there’s too much chrome, Formica, and corporate structure. I prefer more humanness.
Independent coffee shops are rare, but I usually find one. The indies attract a casual clientele – mostly young adults, high school and college students. musicians, artists, and wannabes in every genre.
Baristas, (a term I dislike, almost as much as I dislike the terms food server and executive assistant), are usually young and adorned with a tattoo or several, and/or piercings. Most coffee slingers smile, not because it’s mandated by corporate rules, but because they’re genuinely friendly people. I’ve met the nicest photographic subjects at coffee houses.
Janna was slinging coffee at Sweetwater Coffeehouse in a small vintage wooden building of indeterminate age in Sautee-Nachoochee, Georgia. I wouldn’t call it a city, town, or village. It was merely a community with a population of 362 in 2010, within 1.5 square miles. (Google.)
I was greeted with a smile from Janna that felt like a warm fuzzy hug, and her eyes sparkled like stars in a cloudless midnight sky. Service was efficient, and although I’m not a java connoisseur by any measure, the coffee was the best I’d ever had. She also warmed the chocolate chip cookies I ordered and brought them to the table. “I made them myself,” she said proudly and beamed.
She was the type of employee that every business owner should hire. I’ll go back to Sautee-Nacoochee just for a cup of coffee…and maybe take more pictures.
When I create an environmental portrait, (people wherever they are), I rarely give directions. I usually say, “Look at me.” Sometimes I add, “And smile.”
The photo of Janna was shot with my camera set on P (Program) at ISO 400, with the flash popped up. I realize the window light behind her was blown-out by the outside brightness, but I feel the subject is strong and unaffected.