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Seattle Times photographers offer a glimpse into what inspires their best visual reporting.

January 9, 2014 at 12:49 PM

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Behind-the-scenes: Hawktails! shoot





"Where's your camera-man?" says one of the bartenders to Seattle Times happy hour writer Tan Vinh.

"Camera-woman," says Vinh as he points to me untangling and arranging lighting cords in the narrow space of Liberty Bar in Capitol Hill on Monday.

I look up and smile. As a one-woman camera crew, I'm pretty used to this by now.

It's not always easy on assignments like Hawktails! where I alone am in charge of filming, lighting, interviewing, equipment set-up, audio, shooting stills for print and then editing, producing and publishing for a one-day turn, but it can also be surprisingly awesome. I enjoy the experience all the more when a features story, like this one, allows me and my subjects to flex our innovative muscles.

Liberty Bar was holding a tasting event in its back room, which made filming and maneuvering around extra bodies in the bar a burdensome task.

Without an assistant or crew, I'm jumping on and off chairs, asking for a moment of pause to focus or adjust a barn door on a light one more time, and most important when there's a team of subjects waiting on me and only me, I am keeping the pace of the shoot going at a good speed.




GENEVIEVE ALVAREZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Clockwise from top right, Tommy Stearns of Suite 410, Cale Green of Sun Liquor, Jeshua Madden of The Gerald and Jason Finn, former bartender and drummer for The Presidents of the United States of America create Seattle Seahawks inspired drinks at Liberty Bar in Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle, Wash., on Jan. 6, 2014.



Tommy Stearns of Suite 410, Cale Green of Sun Liquor, Jeshua Madden of The Gerald and Jason Finn, former bartender and drummer of The Presidents of the United States of America, were all patient and marvelous to work with as I filmed each one concocting their drinks twice. I set up a Canon C100 as the main camera changing between 16-35 mm and 70-200 mm lenses during takes. In addition, I roamed with a Canon 5d Mark II with a 24-105 mm on it for more dynamic, hard to reach angles. A soft box acted as my main overhead light with a hair light on a stand several feet to the bartender's left.

After all had worked their cocktail magic, and Green wrapped up his second "Maple Caper," I knew I needed to quickly switch into still photography mode and set up a makeshift studio on a bar table. My intention was not only to make each drink look different, but to do so in a timely manner, because regular customers were starting to trickle in.

Although I had brought themed props, I made sure I shot the products with and without them -- one never knows what photo editors have in mind, or what space looks like in print. I attempted to play to each drink's visual strength. A green backdrop for the "Beastronessey" to highlight the chartreuse. Work the egg-white tones of "The Maple Caper" and place in the background some Top Pot Doughnuts maple bars, but don't let them overpower the meaning of the image. Think stadium tunnel light while backlighting the blue and green tones of "Russellmania." How do I throw a (Wilson) football in the shot without being too obvious?





PHOTOS BY GENEVIEVE ALVAREZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

In honor of the Seattle Seahawks' journey through the playoffs, we asked Seattle bartenders to create Seahawks inspired drinks. Such drinks included The Maple Caper, a twist on the Sun Liquor holiday classic egg nog, The Beastronessey, a take on Marshawn Lynch's favored combination of Patron and Hennessey, The Hauschka Sour, a sophisticated nod to kicker Steven Hauschka and Russellmania, a shot styled in the team's colors.




Once the last frame is shot and I rapidly thumb the image wheel on the back of my camera, "chimping" to make sure I don't leave the bar without the goods, I take a long exhale and prepare to arduously pack up every last piece of equipment I have strewn about the bar in the past four hours. If there's one thing I've learned about being a one-woman camera/film/video/shooter/editing crew, it's that assignments like these that help keep me in physical and creative shape.

Phew! Now how about that drink?





This player was created in September 2012 to update the design of the embed player with chromeless buttons. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites.






This player was created in September 2012 to update the design of the embed player with chromeless buttons. It is used in all embedded video on The Seattle Times as well as outside sites.



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