the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

EMPTY TABLES

"Each place I go....only the lonely go...."

“Each place I go….only the lonely go….”

By MICHAEL PERKINS

FEW OF US CAN CHANNEL FRANK SINATRA’S VOCAL ACUMEN, but we can all relate to the urban movies that he started running in the projection rooms of our minds. For most of his career, The Voice was a very visual actor, shaping sound into virtual landscapes of lonely towns, broken-hearted guys wandering the waterfront, and blue mornings where the sun rises on you and ….nobody else. Frank could smile, swagger, strut and swing, for sure, but he was the original king of desolate all-nighters, our tour guide to the dark center of the soul.

He was also, not coincidentally, a pretty good amateur photographer.

I tend to see restaurants, bars, and city streets in general through the filter of Sinatra’s urban myths. Tables covered with upturned chairs. The bartender giving the counter one more weary wipedown. Dim neon staining rain-soaked brick streets. Curling blue-grey wisps of cigarette smoke. And shadows that cover the forgotten in inky cloaks of protection. Give me eight bars of “One For My Baby” and I’m searching for at least one bar that looks like the last act in a Mamet play.

It becomes a kind of ongoing assignment for photographers. Find the place that strikes the mood. Show “lonely”. Depict “Over”. Do a portrait called “Broken-hearted Loser.” There are a million variations, and yet we all recognize a slice of every one. Like Frank, we’ve all been asked by the host if he can call us a cab. Like Frank, we’ve all wondered, sure, pal, but where do I go now?

It’s not often a pretty picture. But, with luck, it’s sometimes a pretty good picture.

 

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3 responses

  1. Great shot. I look the neon reflection and the very red tint to the wall. This is a keeper.

    May 21, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    • I love this neighborhood, which is located in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a regentrified corridor between downtown and the OSU campus call the Short North and it has resulted in the wholesale resurrection of some of the city’s best “joints”. Thanks as always for your kind words.

      May 21, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      • You’re welcome and it sounds like a great place to photograph. I did mean love instead of look.

        May 21, 2015 at 4:40 PM

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