Sometimes very unlikely subjects capture our imagination, things that would not be ordinarily appealing to photograph may become interesting. During a dinner at Cafe Nuovo in Providence, the first thing I noticed as we sat at the table was the pair of salt and pepper shakers. They were made of stainless steel with matching curves that made them fit together. I took some photographs of them at the table with my phone and later I asked the waiter if I could borrow a pair to photograph. He told us that they were popular among their patrons. In fact, the number of salt and pepper shakers diminished very rapidly for a while. Now, he said, they were under instruction to put them in the breadbasket when they were clearing the table before taking the coffee and dessert orders. The food was excellent, by the way!
A little later, the manager came and greeted me with my name and said hello in Turkish “Merhaba Cemal bey“. Clearly, he spoke only a few words in Turkish, but I replied in kind and asked how he knew my name and that I was Turkish. He smiled and said, “if you want to borrow a couple of my shakers, I need to know who you are.” It turned out that one of our former neighbors was now a waiter there and he had told Dimitri, the manager, who I was. We talked, in English, about a couple of common friends and he said I could take the pair home to photograph. I promised that I would return them in a few weeks, and we shook hands and left.
Photographing Salt and Pepper Shakers
The shakers stood on the desk for about two weeks while I thought of several ways to photograph them. They had highly polished, mirror-like surfaces and brushed and matte surfaces. The polished surfaces would reflect what was around them and the dull surfaces would mostly resist reflection. Yesterday I started taking photographs with the aid of a couple of colored manilla folders, with window light, ambient light, ambient light, and flash, … The surfaces had more scratches than I thought, but I was able to clean them in Photoshop.
I present to you a pair of salt and pepper shakers! Don’t overlook simple things to photograph. (They are made by American Metalcraft and are available from a restaurant supply store in case you are interested.)