Although Brick Fire Tavern would not be open for few hours, the unlocked door pushed open with ease. They were expecting me. Natural light flooded the restaurant from the tall windows facing the streets of Chinatown, casting long shadows across the empty tables and red brick walls. I paused to appreciate the inherent beauty of the space, the rich colors from the sunlight, and unique charm of the historic building. My mind was already formulating concepts and framing. Excitement was building.
The staff was hustling in preparation for the inevitable Saturday evening bustle and buzz of hungry patrons. This was my first assignment during a restaurant’s prep time and I felt in the way. Matt, the owner and mastermind behind Brick Fire Tavern, calmly assured me that I was not.
I surveyed the dining space and began to take a few candid shots of the staff’s meticulous movements. Although the assignment was pairing pizza and wine, I also sought to capture the character of the space and process of Neapolitan pizza making.
In photojournalism, there are often only a few seconds to capture an image. I have learned that I must be observant, anticipate the moment, and always be ready. With stories happening so quickly, the shot usually does not come out “perfect.” This week’s favorite photo, a young prep cook rolling out freshly-made pizza dough, is far from perfect. Nonetheless, I am drawn to the authenticity of the image and story it conveys. I love how the natural light casts interesting shadows across the frame and illuminates the texture of the dough and hands. It also paints a visual narrative of freshly-made dough commencing its pizza journey, with the brick fire oven looming in the background as the Final Act.
The end product was The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition, a three-part series that explored the culinary traditions of Italy’s Northern, Central, and Southern regions. Disclaimer: reading these posts may result in an insatiable craving for pizza and wine.
Wait, is that a bad thing?
There is a challenging adventure in meeting new, interesting people [especially for us introverts!] and capturing their stories in a creative and genuine manner. Oftentimes, this process additionally affords fortuitous chances to establish close friendships with individuals I may not have otherwise encountered. Snap a photo, make a friend. Not a bad bargain.
The pizza-pairing assignment is most memorable for this reason. Matt has become a tremendous friend, and Brick Fire Tavern is a regular reprieve from the work day when I need a fresh environment, good conversation, and perhaps a glass [or two] of Prosecco. The Great Pizza and Wine Pairing Expedition was certainly a treat, but enduring friendships are the greatest value in any of my projects.
Cheers to you, Matt, and all the hard-working staff at Brick Fire Tavern!