He’s known as Cam Brown behind the coffee bar and BamCrown behind the lens. As a Barista and Photographer, he’s always finding ways to create meaningful relationships whether it’s with coffee shop goers or other photographers who join in on his Happy Hour Street Meets. Cam is someone who truly cares when it comes to paying attention to detail when dialing in a shot.
Who are you?
Hey, I’m Cam and I’m a barista and manager at Espresso a Mano. But whenever I’m behind the camera, I’m known as bamcrown.
When did your love for crafting coffee begin?
My love for coffee began back in March of 2011. I was in need of a chill coffee shop with WiFi and I stumbled across a cafe with their garage door open on a warm spring day - it was Espresso a Mano. That was whenever I discovered the Iced Mocha - and its been history since. I was a customer for 5 years before working there, and now I’m coming up on my 4th working anniversary.
As a barista, what is the key component to maintaining a successful shift?
I have been working as a barista for a few years now, so creating the coffee is second nature. The key to maintain a successful shift - in my opinion - is more of the experience for the customers. I want everyone who walks in those doors to feel as if we’ve known one another for years. Its all about the friendship and rapport that I want to establish with them. That could be quirky nicknames or just having the right tunes on to create that vibe for them.
Since there is an abundance of baristas in the city of Pittsburgh, what makes you stand out from the rest? How do you make your work with coffee unique?
The ability of create a powerful rapport with customers is truly what helps a barista stand out from the rest. People want to be more than another cup of coffee - and that’s the experience I want to provide whenever you step in the coffee shop.
How has your photography been influenced by your work as a barista?
Being a barista has influence my shooting style in a big way. As barista, I am constantly dialing in the espresso to the correct perimeters that are in the Espresso A Mano’s recipe.
In doing so, I’m aware of the size of the grinds, the weight in and weight out of the dose, and the taste of the extraction. With my style of street photography, practice the “Fishing” technique, so I dial in my shots the exact same way. After I have my desired composition, I will dial in my aperture for the depth of field, pick the correct shutter speed to stop or blur motion, and then the ISO. Long story short, that’s how I dial in my shot - in the coffee shop and in the streets.
Happy Hour Sreet Meet is a photographer meet-up that you’ve created in the Pittsburgh community, why is this concept so important to you?
Happy Hour Street Meet (HHSM) has been an amazing experience and it has been extremely important for my mental health. I started shooting in August if 2017 - about 4 months after the passing of my mother. But, nothing really stuck and I felt creatively stagnant. It was then when a friend introduced me to street photography. So to get myself to shoot at least once a week, I created the meet up to hold myself accountable. Now, i shoot at least 5-6 days a week. But the most satisfying part of hosting the meet up is: creating a stronger photo community, and hearing the testimonies from fellow photographers, where the
HHSM community has helped their mental stability with bipolar and desperation, or a friend where their family members has been in the hospital for 8 months, and the community has provided a sense of normalcy from their everyday struggle. That’s the most satisfying part of hosting HHSM.
Photos By: Garrett "G" Yurisko