I promised myself when we bought the new farmhouse that in my new neighborhood I would take more portraits of people with character in their faces, and incorporate them into my blog and my writing. I want to do this to expand myself, my photography, the range of the blog. I love taking photos of cute and appealing animals, but that's not all the blog or my photography is about.
Louise Fairbanks has great character in her face, and in her life and work. It is not easy to take a rundown roadhouse with a bad reputation and turn it into a friendly and successful family restaurant with great burgers and wraps and a good long bar at the back. "This economy" does not seem to have discouraged her. Some friends and I met at Momma's Restaurant in Jackson, N.Y., not far from our new home and I saw the light coming in through the side window and ran home to get my portrait lens (70-200mm).
I love to photograph women in part because I love women and because very few women like to be photographed. Most fuss, frown and hesitate. It is almost always a challenge, a seduction, if you will. Some women just look me in the eye and dare me to shoot away – Judy Rouse at the Rouse farm was like that. She looked at me as if she wanted to strangle me, but never flinched from the camera. These very strong women accept themselves as they are, and they dare you or your damned lens to do otherwise. Maria just pretends I don't exist, that is the way she deals with my recurring invasions of her privacy. Louise Fairbanks, the owner of "Momma's" is also somewhat like that. Like many country people, she is open and accepting. She never asks me why I am photographing her, never asks what I am going to to do with the pictures, never primps or checks her hair or make-up, never worries about the image she projects. This determination and strength projects itself into the photograph, and when I came rushing back into the restaurant with my camera, I said "I'm her to take your photo while the afternoon light is coming through that window, and all she said was "here?" and I said, "yes, there," and I took the photo and said goodbye. I'm going on a book tour and will be gone for a week or so on this part of the tour, I said, and she said, "good trip," and I left.
We are very happy to have a restaurant like this in our neighborhood and will be happier still when we can rush up to Momma's in the winter and get a nice meal and a drink for $30 or so. We used to drive a lot farther than that.
I was very happy with this photograph, the strength in her face, the shadows highlighting the character, the blue neon beer sign, the kid seat, the coats, it captured what she does, how she feels about it.
I hope to be doing many more portraits in the next chapter of our lives.