Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Louis Photographer Takes Eat-Rite to the Smithsonianan. Again.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM

In 2007 Jane Linders, an artist specializing in alternative-process photography, took her Polaroid to the corner of Chouteau and 7th to nab a piece of St. Louis' Route 66 history. She captured the original Eat-Rite Diner, still serving slingers and bags of burgers for over 60 years, in a gritty, ominous photo that could have been taken decades earlier.

For the second time, the Smithsonian will be utilizing Linders' work on Smithsonian Spotlight: Picture Perfect on the Smithsonian Channel on March 6 at 10 a.m. and March 8 at 8 p.m. The program is a behind the scenes look at the Smithsonian's annual "Picture Perfect" contest and the photos that have been a part of it.

Linders talked to Gut Check about her iconic photo, restaurant photographs, and how to make your own haunting old diner photos.

  • Jane Linders

When was the photo taken? The photo was taken in 2007 and exhibited in the Smithsonian Museum for several months that same year in the "Through the Eyes of Our Readers" exhibit. Tell us a bit about the process you used, and why. I used the Polaroid transfer process to capture the Eat-Rite Diner because the final image ends up having a painterly antique quality reminiscent of an old post card or fresco painting. Since the Eat-Rite is an old-timey diner, I felt that using this process helped magnify the vintage quality of the diner. Have you gotten any reaction from the Eat-Rite folks about the show? I'm afraid to tell them. They might get all weird on me and say that I'm not allowed to use the image of their diner for commercial use. I sell the hell out of the Eat-Rite Diner photo and don't want to kill off my cash cow. A few years ago I took a Polaroid transfer of the Elvis Is Alive museum in Wright City , MO and started selling it online. I got a cease and desist order from the "Elvis Police" demanding that I stop selling the image. I don't want that happening again. What can we expect to see on the program? The Smithsonian program is about what properties make a good photo. I haven't seen the show yet, so I'm not exactly sure.

Any other St. Louis iconic restaurants in your photo inventory? I have photos of Amigetthi's Restaurant and Crown Candy Kitchen in my photo inventory. Will you have the print for sale at any upcoming craft shows? I will be selling the Eat-Rite Diner [print] at the upcoming St. Louis Craft Mafia-sponsored event, Indie Craft Revolution at the St. Louis Artists Guild April 30th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and May 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Folks can also purchase the print online at

Next, Linders gives instructions on how to create that vintage diner look as seen in her photo.

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