diner views written out in neon letters

Diner Perspectives

How do you take your coffee? 

Everyone’s an equal at a diner. Truckers, families, cross-country travelers, hitchhikers, the regulars, teenagers who love coffee and everyone in between. Something about the booth or countertop of a diner feels like a safe place no matter your purpose. Classic and homey—plenty of adjectives to choose from. The staff feels like a family and you’re likely going to order that comfort food you’ve been dying for—one of the more pure experiences still going steady in modern times. That Americana feeling and look is translated into photos for this edition of Perspectives, where we asked photographers what a diner represents to them— the following is what they had to say. Side of grits, please. 

Pastel diner with pink booth and chandeliers
cozy diner with amber lights and blinds on the window

Michele Hamparian // @micheleonfilm 

Brooklyn, New York 
To me, a breakfast diner represents the last stop of a good night out. That golden hour where the night-goers cross paths with the morning-goers. A place, similar to film, that is steeped in nostalgia with its muted colors and warm tones. 

waffle house with a police officer outside.

Taylor Davis // @taylordavis.co

Galveston, Texas
Breakfast diners represent something both uniquely and nostalgically American — their warm glow serving as a 24-hour refuge for the hungry, the tired and the drunk. Unironic and safe, the food and coffee satisfy something deep, deep within your soul, always there waiting for your return.

Roy's motel cafe neon sign with classic car parked next to it.
photo taken from the road of old diner with distressed sign.

Jared Jurcak // @jaredjurcak

Fresno, California
It’s the black coffee in those short, thick mugs. A salty (in the best way) wait staff, and about the only place where chicken-fried steak sounds good.

vibrant diner with teal tabletops and ketchup mustard napkin holder on the table

TK Wang // @tk.somewhere

Kansas City, Missouri
Breakfast means a lot to me because it’s half an hour in a day just for me. I work in a very fast-paced tech field, so starting a quiet morning with a cup of morning coffee gives me that little quiet moment of the day I need. Dinner is when I release my energy. I try to share and receive positive energy with my family and friends at the dinner table. I’m usually an extroverted person. So dinner is where I give out that extroverted energy and breakfast is that little part of myself who likes to enjoy calmness that nobody knows.

window reflection of person walking by diner with checkerboard shades.
"hot cake house open 24 hours 1/4 lb special hamburgers" neon sign

Griffin Malone // @griffinforme

Rockland, Maine
I think I often lose sight of how many different communities and microscopic subcultures are out there. Wandering down random country roads and stumbling across a small diner (with coffee that’s still somehow a dollar for a cup) gives me the opportunity to sit and observe those communities. It reminds me how vastly intricate every town can be and I am forever grateful for that reminder.

person dressed up as a ghost wearing fake glasses and mustache eating at Waffle House.

Claire Tadeo // @clairetadeo_photography 

Atlanta, Georgia 
This is a place that hosts transition, but always feels familiar. It has seen me at both dusk and dawn and never asked me to rush into the next phase of the day. Although time will continue on, I think there is a source of respite in these booths for all who pass through. 

nighttime shot of Waffle House light up sign and building.

Gunner Hughes // @gunner.hughes

Madison, Florida
Cheap black coffee and a stomachache. For me, it’s a refuge on the road. Late nights, early mornings, cheap black coffee and the perfect amount of comfort, nostalgia and Americana rolled into a reflective metal shell.