Portrait Series of Pete Koromilas, Owner of the Legendary Ellam's Diner

last month
48 in portraitphotography

A couple nights I heard that Pete Koromilas past away. Pete is the long time owner of the local diner (Ellam's Restaurant) that has existed since the 50s. Though I've never actually been a customer at Ellam's Restaurant, I've been inspired by Pete's presence in the downtown core. For years I've walked down Ontario street, mindlessly looking into shop windows and every so often I'll see Pete sitting inside of Ellam's, mostly on his own lately. His wife past away just a couple years back, and he hasn't been the same since.

I feel a range of emotions when I see him, often times I'll just feel inspired by his perseverance. There has been two occasions over the years that I've stopped in, and asked if I can take his portrait. Recently was actually the night that I heard of Doe Wilson's passing. Another Stratford Icon who I've spoken to for years and photographed twice.

Since moving back to Stratford after a couple years in Toronto I have been working the midnight shift at a local factory. It was Sunday May 14 2017, early evening. I woke up a couple hours before my alarm went off and checked my phone to see what time it was (around 7PM). I noticed an unusual amount of Facebook messages, so I took a quick look when I saw a Facebook friend tag me in a comment about Doe Wilson's passing. Just earlier that week I was planning a summer portrait series that would feature Doe Wilson as well as Pete from Ellam's Diner. I immediately felt sad about losing Doe, and thought what's the point of waiting any longer, why not approach Pete if he happens to be at the Diner. So I got dressed, grabbed my camera and headed out.

Sure enough Pete was alone in the dark empty restaurant, so I knocked on the window and entered when he warmly waved me in.

I told him about my project and asked if I could take a few portraits of him, and at first he seemed confused as to why I'd want to take his picture, but was happy to do a few quick poses.

We ended up hanging out and shooting for about 45 minutes until the sun fully set.

Rest in peace Panayote "Peter" Koromilas, 1931-2018.

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33
  ·  last month

Beautiful story. Beautiful photos.

60
  ·  last month

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50
  ·  last month

can you tell me if the photos are yours?
you should give credit to the photographer or tell people that they are yours if they are...!!!

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48
  ·  last month

They are, all of the photos are mine unless otherwise stated. I wrote about our entire photo session in this exact post...?

39
  ·  last month

Great pictures! He looks like an awesome guy.

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48
  ·  last month

Thanks @Woodzi!

35
  ·  last month

Beautiful narration and photographs. I hope the photographs make it to his family. Thank you for sharing.

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48
  ·  last month

I believe they have. Though I don't know his family, I've posted in some local groups on facebook. Hundreds of responses, including some close friends.

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35
  ·  last month

That's excellent :)

59
  ·  last month

What a beautiful post. I am teared up typing this. Small town life totally resonates with me, growing up in a small town in Alaska - I know how an iconic fixture like Pete can become an expected and integral part of the landscape of a town. Beautiful portraits. I am glad you stopped in to grab these pictures when you did and I am glad you shared them with us here.

Much love - Carl

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48
  ·  last month

Thanks for the touching comment Carl! There really is a lot of easily overlooked beauty in small towns everywhere. It's no secret here that he's been sitting on what people have been calling a 'gold mine' of a location. Ellam's Diner has been there my whole life, and my parents. I'm sad to see him go, and very afraid of what will happen soon to the historical location.

44
  ·  last month

Wow amazing photography all the snaps are awesome.... perfect click....thank you for sharing with us.... keep sharing more

43
  ·  last month

I love the detail on the glass behind the subject - the slight scratches and wipe streaks with the bokeh background. Really nice composition! I feel like in all of the shots, I get a real true sense of this man. Great work! Can't wait to see more.

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48
  ·  last month

I had not considered the wipe streaks to show personality. Interesting intuition, thanks @underwaterwoman

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43
  ·  last month

You're welcome! I really loved these.

37
  ·  last month

Beautiful pictures. Keep up the good work!

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48
  ·  last month

Thanks @itsmidhun, you have some great shots yourself!
Cheers,
-Jonathan

54
  ·  last month

Great photography sessions you had with Pete Koromilas mate. Now it seem your decision to quickly approach him just paid off. I believe this should be a lesson for us all.... We need to act on our plans as soon as possible.

Nice work mate keep up the good work @jonathansippel

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60
  ·  last month

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42
  ·  last month

This is really great how you can actually ask someone random about their lives and even get to take their portraits! Great job and ur photography is awesome!

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48
  ·  last month

Thanks @eddieboo!

69
  ·  last month

This person really has reached the maximum! Bravo!

55
  ·  last month

These are great, really tell a story of the owner! Amazing!

31
  ·  last month

Wow. What a beautiful tribute. I am glad that you did not wait, and that you made this photoshoot happen. I do not live in your town or know this man, but I do appreciate how you captured his last days. Great job. Please keep doing these.

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48
  ·  last month

Thanks @Brazenbre, me too! Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in our daily plans and lose track of what is really important in life, the people we experience around us.

25
  ·  last month

Great pictures, but my favourite thing is that you cared enough to go and photograph him in the first place. It's got me thinking of all of the people that I've had chance to photograph, but never did because I didn't care enough to pluck up the courage to ask. Great stuff.

73
  ·  last month

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48
  ·  last month

That's correct, also my post. Thanks.

55
  ·  last month

this uncle is so cute. and he treated you well. It is very nice to have understanding people. You have beautiful portraits. quite successful. I liked the framing. congratulations :)