22
Jan

Drinks With Murray Stenson

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under BTS, Editorial Work, Tear Sheets

I hinted at a fun assignment I was working on last month on Twitter, and now I am excited to to be able to share the images with you.  I had a lot of catching up to do when I first got the assignment to photograph Murray Stenson from Art Director Jane Sherman at Seattle Weekly, but it didn’t take long for me to find out that Murray is widely regarded as the best bartender in the country.  Don’t believe me?Just ask Esquire, Playboy and Tales of the Cocktail.  It felt like when you get a new car, and all of a sudden you realize that just about everyone else on the road has the same car as you.  As soon as I got this assignment, it seemed like everyone I knew was going out to get a drink from Murray.  Apparently I was the last person to know.  I was quite excited to not only photograph Murray, but to also have a drink from him.

I did the shoot at Canon, which is a new bar in Seattle where Murray works, along with an all-star group of bartenders led by Jamie Boudreau who is also the owner.  There is a bit of a wait to get in, but I can tell you the wait is well worth it.  I filmed a short video of Murray mixing and explaining how to make an Absinthe Julep, which you can see below.  And yes, I did get to drink it after we were done filming.  Someone had to, and I didn’t want it to go to waste.  We did have to do 2 takes, but thankfully my assistant handled the second one since we were dealing with 124 proof.  For what it’s worth, I made sure the video was the last thing we did so my pictures wouldn’t be out of focus.

Although Murray has been written up in many other magazines, this article is the first time he has told his story.  It was written by Mike Seely, and is a really fascinating read.  Here is the link to the article if you are interested.  Along with the video, I also included a few behind the scenes pictures at the bottom.

Thanks to Jane Sherman for working with me on this, and thanks to Murray and Jamie for being such gracious hosts and subjects.  Photo retouching by the fine folks at Gigantic Squid.

Behind the scenes pictures by Lonnie Webb.

12
Jul

Medical Marijuana Pusher

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Tear Sheets

Medical marijuana leader Steve Sarich on the cover of Seattle Weekly.  Photo by photographer John Keatley

Medical marijuana grower Steve Sarich in his bedroom.  Photo by John Keatley.

Pot plants.  Photo by John Keatley.

Seattle Weekly gave me a call last month with a cover story, and it was so intriguing and different from what I am used to, I couldn’t pass it up.  The subject is Steve Sarich, and it is going to be very difficult to give good description of him without going on for several pages.  Fifty-nine years old, former Penthouse photographer, used to date Anna Nicole Smith, currently dating a 20 year old aspiring model, medical marijuana grower and seller, and he is surrounded by an entourage of young “volunteers” in their 20′s and 30′s, including a personal cook who is really good!  I photographed Steve at his new home in the foothills about 40 minutes outside of Seattle.  He moved there after a home invasion at his previous residence, where he was sprayed by a shotgun blast just before he shot one of the intruders.

When I arrived at his home, I was greeted by a large pit bull and I honestly thought it was over.  I may have thrown my hands high in the air and yelled something.  Not really sure what holding my hands above my head would have accomplished had I been attacked.  Then, I was mistaken for a “patient” and presented with some options.  After quickly explaining I was the photographer and not a patient, I was introduced to Steve and got a tour of the compound.  I know there are some new laws and marijuana is legal with a prescription, but apparently it is legal to grow and sell it now, too.  Growing up with the understanding that marijuana is an illegal drug is a hard concept for me to shake.  All through the day I found myself wondering, “Could I get arrested if this place gets raided right now?”  Not to mention, guns make me a little uncomfortable.

“Marijuana’s never been on a path to greater acceptance than it is now. But to Steve Sarich, the change just isn’t coming fast enough. With his guns, brash manner, and retinue of followers who look too young and healthy to be in need of weed, Sarich is the enfant terrible of Washington’s medical marijuana movement.

Sarich doesn’t exactly shy away from confrontation. Where many activists believe that a quiet, non-profit model of providing pot to patients will keep them in the good graces of legislators and law enforcement, Sarich’s vertically-integrated enterprise has unabashedly mixed medical clinics with pot brownie sales, and scoffed at the legal limit on plants. And sent taunting emails to cops while he does it.” – Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly

The cover shot is a perfect example of his brash attitude and confidence.  I asked him if he had a particular strain he wanted to hold and his eyes lit up.  He had just created a new strain of pot and named it “Alloway 420″.  Roy Alloway was a Bremerton drug cop who is notorious for his aggressive tactics.  He retired shortly after this issue came out, but I’m sure his retirement had nothing to do with this story.

Pretty crazy stuff.  If you want to read more, it’s long, but it is an interesting article about Steve and medical marijuana.

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