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michael@mwesselphotography.com

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Bottoms Up Tavern

‘Hey Wessel, what’re you up to?’ my friend Brian West, owner and operator of Alcoholmanac magazine, asked me in a jovial voice over the cell phone. I leaned back in my chair taking my eyes off the monitor to which they had been affixed for the last couple hours and let them stray to the snowy outdoors. ‘Not too much. Why?’ There was a short tentative pause, ‘how would you like to take some pictures of a bartender for me?’

It was something I had never done before, a challenge yet to be faced. Sure I had done head shots and portraits but this was an ‘on location’ shoot. That meant that along with bringing my own lights and gear I had to pull out my ‘A’ game. Figuring out lighting, angles, and poses on the fly with people watching my every move and expecting results.

I have to be honest, my heart was beating like rain on a tin roof as I pulled up but once my camera was out of the bag and I started to set things up inside that irregular and frantic patter settled into a steady confident rhythm.

It helped that the bartender, Stephanie, was also a model and knew how to move in front of the camera. A photogenic and attractive woman, she moved from shot to shot with grace so I barely noticed when Brian left on other business halfway through the shoot.

I even managed to get some crowd involvement in the shot that ended up being the main feature photo for the Alcoholmanac article on Stephanie. I apologized for taking him away from his friends and his beer but he waved me off with a smile on his face knowing what was to come. I had a chuckle at that as well.

Overall it came to two hours at Bottom Up tavern and another four or five at home editing to get the shots Brian, I, and the owner wanted. It may have been an extremely stressful and challenging experience but it was also really satisfying to see the look on people face once I showed them the final product.

Bottoms Up is a small yet very well endowed tavern located in Butler, Wisconsin. Friendly staff and patrons make this a great place to spend some time tipping back a few tasty drinks. The bartenders alone are a good enough reason to visit the place and from what the owner tells me they apparently rotate through different outfits that are sure to please the eye. Check out Bottoms Up tavern here.

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