On Assignment: Murphy’s Bar & Grill

I’ve been hired by the Hawaii Theatre Center to shoot photos of Chinatown businesses that have supported them through the years. Murphy’s Bar & Grill has always been an iconic part of Chinatown, so to shoot the location and the owner was exciting and also nerve-wracking. The experience was stressful because Don Murphy, the iconic owner, is a very busy man, so I knew I needed to get the perfect photos in less than 10 shots so as not to occupy more of his time.

After trying a couple shots in front of the stained glass window, I asked him to move to the back bar room. It was filled with character and personality and was the perfect backdrop for him. I shot at a shutter speed of 1/8 to get the background exposed to as much light as possible. Because of the slow shutter, I needed to “freeze” Don, so I used my speedlight at 1/4 power, aimed at him. Man, that Guinness looked delicious by this point.

I took a couple shots of the bar and the exterior, but I knew my money shot was of Don. It’s funny how I stress myself out sometimes. But in the end, if you trust your instinct and go with what you know, you’ll surprise yourself.


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