Despite the obvious awkwardness of photographing strangers made famous for eating, there’s the perpetual question of how to make a unique environmental portrait.

For this shot of Bill Warwick dining at El Corazon, I’d already run the gambit of maneuvering around Bill to make photos: angled sideways, from a distance, sitting across from him and hovering above him.

Then I spun around and noticed the wall coverings behind the bar. If I angled my camera just so I could frame Bill in the reflection of a mirror.

Holding myself steady in the correct position was a bit of a pilates workout (which is normal) and then it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment after Bill and his playful demeanor engaged the wait staff.

While this portrait didn’t run in print, it’s a reminder that turning a bland portrait into an engaging one is sometimes just a matter of looking around the room.

(A final note for gear heads: I used a 105-mm macro lens at 1/30 at f/4 at ISO 800. Despite its label as a macro lens, the 105-mm is a stunning multi-purpose telephoto with vibration reduction. Best of all, it’s sharp as all get out. Seriously.)

If you’ve yet to check it out, here is our June cover story about restaurant regulars.