Odd fellows Cafe + Bar

The final stop on my Pacific Northwest trip was at Oddfellows. A beautiful cafe + bar that resides in a historic building in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. 

I was a bit surprised on my arrival to find that they were far more a restaurant than a coffee shop, but that’s not to say that they don’t fit on this site. They have baristas, pastries and an espresso station separate from the bar and restaurant side where the chefs reside.

The cafe was already rockin’ with customers when I arrived and I hadn’t planned on shooting around a lunch rush so that made it a bit difficult to take portraits of the baristas at first. Not wanting to bother them, I continued capturing images of the cafe as I normally do and was getting some great stuff. The location is large and full of beautiful vignettes where you’ll find antique typewriters, plates and cool lights hanging from the ceiling. Essentially, a photographers dream.

I also wondered down the hallway outside of the cafe itself and came across an old flag of sorts that said, “Anchor Lodge No. 221” and after a bit of research I came across a link to the “International Organization of Odd Fellows”. Freakin’ crazy.

Yet, even after my brief adventure around the building and their beautiful cafe, I could feel the resistance – as Steven Pressfield coined in The War On Art – creeping into the back of my mind. It’s that, not so small, voice that tells you that your project sucks and you’re going to fail.

Thankfully, they had a beautiful enclosed patio that was out of commission due to the rain, so I sat out there for a few quiet moments to think. After a long week of shoots in both Portland and Seattle I was beginning to doubt aspects of this series and more questions than answers were being raised. Sadly, I was feeling this even though I had been welcomed in at each location with warmth, having great conversations over coffee all while capturing beautiful images along the way.

I called my wife for some moral support and consolation, but she was in more of a butt kicking mood! She listened, as she supports my pursuit of this project. But in the end she essentially told me that I have already put so much energy into this and to: “Shut up and shoot“. Sometimes, what you need to hear isn’t necessarily what you want to hear. But that’s how it goes.

Thankfully, I listened. After 9 years of marriage I’ve learned…we’ll, for the most part.

Here’s a bit of the internal dialogue: I mean, come on man: You’re here, you spent the money out of pocket to fly to both Portland and Seattle for this project. There’s no guarantee that things will ever go as planned. But this also the time where you have to challenge yourself to push through even harder. You love photography. You love coffee culture. This is all part of the journey of a personal project. There are ups and there are down. It’s time that you listen to the advise that you used to tell your old studio manager, “Keep moving forward” no matter what sucka!

So I slowed myself down and waited an extended period of time until the rush died down. I then began to approach the employees individually and pulled them aside to capture their portrait. I was determined to not leave until I captured the human element of Oddfellows. And Im glad that I made the decision to see it through. Below is proof that sometimes it pays off to set aside your doubts, reflect on what originally inspired you to begin with, and practice that one virtue I will most likely never master: Patience.