The interior of the Café Métropole has been richly decorated in 1890s fin de siècle style. The success of the café allowed the owners to open a hotel next door, the only 19th century hotel in Brussels still open today.
Brussels – Photo Tip

Sometimes the photo you don’t like is also important

Photo by Ruben Drenth

Brussels – Photo Tip Sometimes the photo you don’t like is also important

Brussels is one of the most interesting European cities I’ve seen. I didn’t immediately fall in love with it but it conquered my heart in time.

Ruben Drenth
Ruben Drenth Travel Photographer

Brussels does have plenty of photogenic places but I felt as though a grey veil covered everything. You have to look through this veil to see its charms. But getting through can be difficult, and I have never experienced so many problems in gaining approval to photograph people and locations. I had to change tactics to get the shots I needed for my clients.

Inside the Café Metropole, I saw an elderly man who was the perfect subject. He saw my camera, shook his head and looked angry. I answered with a smile. I let him cool down while I ordered a beer and changed my lens to a smaller one that didn’t stick out.

After he had finished his meal, I walked towards him, then took my photo in a split second. He just stared at me. I thanked him sincerely and he nodded. And then he smiled. It felt like the sky cleared up and the sun began to shine. Maybe a good meal helped, but we both had to cross a certain border to reach this positive ending.

However, I wasn’t happy with the photo when I got home. A disappointment? Not at all. His smile gave me a boost of motivation and creativity that let me make the shots that actually did reach publication.

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Café Métropole on the busy Place de Brouckère sits in a historic art nouveau building dating to 1890. The café is as famous for its outside terrace, seating 150, as for its interior, which holds only 80 customers. Photo by Ruben Drenth

Ruben Drenth

Ruben Drenth

Canon EOS 6D

Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/45
ISO
800
Focal
50 mm

Café Métropole on the busy Place de Brouckère sits in a historic art nouveau building dating to 1890. The café is as famous for its outside terrace, seating 150, as for its interior, which holds only 80 customers.

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