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Try Talking to Them

In the video above a server at Danny’s All-American Diner (Tampa) describes an incredible sandwich. It sounds like a very spicy (four jalapeños!) meat-lover’s work of art.

I almost missed her. I had visited the diner five years ago and taken a few photos of it in the waning light. I tried a few typical angles and zoomed in for a couple of okay close-ups. Eventually I found a shot I liked and worked on it in Photoshop afterwards.

I printed it and returned a year or so later with my friend Matt and my wife Cheryl. Cheryl posed for an intriguing sunset timelapse sequence. I gave the employees the print from the previous time and they loved it. As an afterthought, I persuaded three of them to do short video interviews at the take-out window.

I assembled the video (leaving out the interviews) and inserted a jazz track, but there were problems. It didn’t seem long enough, and the music didn’t gel with the theme. Worse still, my skills just weren’t that advanced. So the project stayed on the shelf for several years.

In the meantime I learned techniques I could apply through my non-linear editing (NLE) program, Adobe Premier Pro and its special effects cousin, Adobe After Effects. I resurrected the footage and dialed up the special effects. I had realized there was a way to find a solution for any wild concept you wanted. Make missiles shoot out of Donald Trump’s ears? No problem. Almost instantly you could find five people on Youtube, usually in their 20s, who’d show you how in eleven minutes.

Eventually I realized there was a section into which I could insert one of my interview snippets. A woman named T.J. had been the only one comfortable in front of the camera. She’d given me a great short spiel. Here’s a still of her.

TJ at work

Watch how I use special effects in the video to make her burst into the scene. So what’s the takeaway here? If you want to add a really special element to your shots (or clips) of thewild and random world, don’t just jazz it up with effects. Try talking to the employees at unusual eateries and stores. You’ll probably find some of them have entertaining stories.

Note: A previous version of this video appeared for just a day. Several people found the accompanying song offensive and irrelevant. Offensive I can deal with, but irrelevant never! So the new song I’ve inserted is neither.  But it is entertaining.

Peter Bates

Peter Bates is a writer and photographer living in Florida. He is the administrator of this blog and runs the blog Stylus.

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  1. Carolyn Gregory Carolyn Gregory

    Peter, this is terrific! I love the woman you photographed here. Real salt of the earth face. Looks like she liked you, too. Good project. Good you are continuing to learn new skills.
    –Carolyn Gregory

  2. Cheryl Levin Cheryl Levin

    Excellent job, Peter!

  3. Rex Records Rex Records

    I’ve been to Danny’s hamburger was terrific. Love the selection of Robert Johnson’s music…he is one of my favorite guitarists.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous

    Very creative post, love the music and the interview.

  5. Zorro the Munificent Zorro the Munificent

    I don’t usually share your fascination with old diners, but the way you put all the ingredients together here makes it interesting and fascinating… I’m still not about to eat a jalapeno though.

    • There are people who eat only those in contests.

  6. Cary W Cary W

    The opening and closing for the interview is very well done! And the time lapse also works well (might be a bight brighter).
    Very good.

  7. Larry Lauenger Larry Lauenger

    Always worth reading/viewing. A great start to a frosty Sunday morning in Massachusetts.

    • Thanks! Never tried the food; couldn’t compete with those eateries we knew in Norwood!

  8. Balwant Balwant

    I saw your blog about that fast food offbeat restaurant. Impressed with your creative genius. Wasn’t aware that there are numerous photoshop and photography experts like you.

    Keep up your good work!!

  9. Love this sequence! The sandwich sounds perfect either for overdue pregnant women anxious to induce labor or for those who are trying to raise their cholesterol. I like the return after the interview to the darkened diner. You’ve really figured out how to do flashy footwork, Peter.

  10. Really enjoyed your take on integrating personal narratives into photography! 🌟 The way you use interviews to give depth to your visual stories is truly captivating. This technique adds such a dynamic and relatable aspect to your subjects. Eagerly looking forward to your future projects!

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