The Art of Bar Photography – Part Two

In the last article,  I outlined some basic guidelines to getting subjects to pose in bars.

This time, I am going to share the story behind some of my personal favourites to help illustrate the lessons.

The Punk Kid

punk kid

Taken at The Corner Hotel in Richmond.

Delta 3200 film – hence the extreme grain

I had been sitting with a bunch of mates at The Corner, enjoying the sunshine in the beer garden, and the cold beer. I think this was the day I started to develop my Nikon film body fetish. There was a stray FM2 body on the table, and I was itching to use it.

This guy had caught my eye as he walked into the bar. Someone who has the guts to wear this haircut in public was screaming for attention. He was with a couple of friends, and had a couple of beers.

He was pretty scary looking, but a couple of beers had given me a bit of extra courage.

Following my principles, I walked straight over to him and proffered up the FM2 asking “hey mate, can I take your portrait?”. He was quite stoked by my request and immediately asked “what do you want me to do?”.

“Just look tough”. I took two or three shots, thanked him and went back to my table. It worked a treat. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky’s quote holds true for photography as much as ice hockey! At least I didn’t go home wondering if he would have agreed…

Smoking Girl

smoking girl

Taken at The Workshop bar in Melbourne’s CBD.

Again, was with a bunch of photography mates at the bar. This girl had been sitting there for some time, waiting for a friend or boyfriend who later showed up. She was living the bohemian lifestyle perfectly – tattooed, smoking, drinking a glass of wine, reading “A Life By Design” – a biography of a wallpaper designer, of all things!

She was sitting there, looking all moody and indy. She had glanced over at us a couple of times, so I popped over and asked the question. I think the old skool 500CM I had for the day also looked pretty cool, and appealed to her. I thought there was a 50/50 chance I was going to get a straight “f&*k off”. As soon as I asked though, she got all giggly and girly. The moodiness I wanted to capture evaporated. But I still got a great shot.

I took three shots in rapid succession. I had already done a light reading before approaching her. And returned immediately to my table.

Again, at least asking the question meant I got a great result.

A Final Thought

Both of these shots were taken around 2007 – over six years ago. They both might live in Patterson Lakes now with a spouse, kid, and a labrador for all I know. You never appreciate your youth until it has gone. These portraits show both subjects radiating youthful adulthood – for all I know, both of them could also be overweight suburbanites now.

I wish I could give them each a copy of their portraits to help them remember that time in their life.

I now carry bite sized Moo Cards that have my contact details (just a website contact and email) – so if I take a potrait that features a person, they can check out my website, and if it makes the cut, they can request a copy of it.

Part One of this Article can be accessed here.


  1. The Art of Bar Photography – Part One | Melbourne Street Photography - July 25, 2014

    […] Part Two of this Article can be accessed here. […]


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