Drinks With Murray Stenson

Posted by / Filed under Editorial Work, BTS, 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.


Great shots, John. As always, I really enjoy seeing the BTS shots. The video looks top notch. Did you use on camera audio for that? If so, you should look at getting a Zoom H4n and the software Plural Eyes for syncing. It will make dealing with audio a whole lot easier. And the story on Murray was great too. Thumbs way up on this post.

POSTED BY Matthew Coughlin on 1-23-2012

[...] • John Keatley’s series of portraits of master bartender Murray Stenson are some of the best images I have seen online in weeks. Seeing stuff like this is like visual caffeine, it wakes you up and pulls you out of the online static. | Keatley Blog.  [...]

POSTED BY Required Reading 2.3.2012 | Luke Copping Photography - Blog on 2-3-2012

Looks like it was a fun job. Good lighting set up.

POSTED BY Sharon Campagna on 2-6-2012

I really enjoy watching your photos and reading your articles. Keep up the good work.

POSTED BY Jack on 2-19-2012

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