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Cafe Portraits | Mary Jane Rosenfeld

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Instagram: @emjai_

When did you approach photography for the first time and why?

I began taking photographs about 2 and a half years ago when I was given a smartphone as a gift.

Where comes from the inspiration for this work and what is the concept behind it?

My inspiration comes from two areas: the beauty of everyday life

... and photographs by others which I see on Instagram. I spend a great deal of time in cafes and coffee shops! I love cafes because they are a place where people can be quiet as if alone, or perhaps with a friend, but still in public. I think one reason that restaurants and pubs and coffee shops are so popular is that they answer the ambivalence human beings have to being with other people. There are other people around, which one needs, but at the same time it is not necessary to talk to them...which can also be good! Just the right balance, I think.

Also, I see such beauty in small gestures and expressions. These can be captured in the life of a cafe. Plus, in the right cafe, there is wonderful light and color and design. The cafe table, the vase of fresh flowers...all these contribute. In a cafe, coffee or wine, or something else wonderful, is being brought to the table. I love both and both also increase the appreciation of beauty and life. What more could one ask?

What is your photographic approach to your subjects? Do you know them already or do you meet them straight when you have to take the pictures?

I prefer to take pictures of people being completely natural.

Therefore, I do not interact with the subject at all.

Did you use any special photo retouch technique for these published pictures?

All of these images have been edited to some degree. Primarily I use Snapseed to highlight or darken specific areas. 

Do you shoot mobile photography?

All of these images were taken with my smartphone. Most recently I have used a Google Pixel 3, which I love.

What do you think are the main vantages using a smartphone as a camera?

Because I want to capture people and scenes in as natural a way as possible, a smartphone is ideal.

Some of my favorite pictures have come from cafes and coffeehouses, where I can pretend to be busy doing something else on the phone.

Why did you decide to use Instagram? What are the main vantages you personally get out of it?

Instagram was my photography school.

It is how I discovered both street photography and mobile artistry, in many forms. I am endlessly amazed at the talent and creativity of people all over the world. One of my favorite photographers on Instagram is @yona.elig. If you look at her work, you will see that she also, in a unique way, finds so much beauty and life in this setting. She is really amazing.

Do you think that the spread of Instagram and mobile photography is changing the way we take pictures?

I love that because of smartphone cameras and Instagram as a worldwide gallery, virtually everyone can be a photographer and share pictures with vast numbers of people. 

On a personal level, it has changed my life, giving me such a great creative outlet. 

On a cultural level, I believe mobile photography provides an accessible, egalitarian form of artistic expression....maybe the most vital and powerful art form of our time.

Pictures © Mary Jane Rosenfeld / USA

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