Each week, First We Feast photographer Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay) grabs her camera and hits the streets to explore a different aspect of the food world. Here, she shares her photos and stories.
Diners have always fascinated me—I love the trapped-in-time feel, the no-nonsense service, and the food that’s neither good nor bad, but comforting in that it tastes exactly how you expect it to taste. With no music or buzzy vibe to distract your attention, you can sink into the perpetual rhythm of the place, which marches along to the clinks and pings of flatware and plates.
The images make me imagine stumbling on the last-remaining diner after a zombie apocalypse.
As a photographer, I’m also drawn to the aesthetics of diners. These utilitarian restaurants can be bland and institutional at first glance, but they’re brightened by quirky details and pops of colors—the bright yellow of a sunny-side up egg, or a squirt of ketchup on the plate.
To attempt to capture the eery timelessness of the diner, I recently went to my favorite spot in my neighborhood—New York’s Upper West Side—and shot with a Nikon F100, using Fuji Velvia film (Kodak discontinued many of its color slide films, and this is one of the most saturated, dense types available now). The images make me imagine stumbling on the last-remaining diner after a zombie apocalypse—exactly where I’d want to be if a zombie apocalypse ever happens.