Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

The Anti-Starbucks

-Jamie Hershman

On almost every corner of every street in the bustling city of Seattle, Washington, you will most likely find a coffee shop. And among the many coffee shops that inhabit Seattle, one of the most ubiquitous is Starbucks.

Starbucks is one of the best-known coffee shops nationwide. As a large corporation, I don’t associate the company as being a homey, community-oriented coffee shop. But the Starbucks corporation begs to differ:

  • “From the beginning, Starbucks set out to be a different kind of company. One that not only celebrated coffee and the rich tradition, but that also brought a feeling of connection.”

I don’t know how much of the “connection” I feel, though. When I walk into my neighborhood Starbucks, the baristas don’t know my name or my order, and because there are so many locations, I know that I can get my usual drink in whatever town, city, or state I’m in.

However, Starbucks does want to go back to its roots of being that unique and cozy coffee shop that it first set out to be when it opened in Seattle in 1971. To accomplish this, they set out on their mission to open secret locations in Seattle, known as “un-Starbucks

In an attempt to shy away from the corporate monster that Starbucks has transformed into, these anti-Starbucks are brand-free in everything, from the classic paper coffee cup to the well-known sign that hangs above every location. While all the coffee beans are solely Starbucks, there is no indication that it is a Starbucks corporation creation.

There is an “un-Starbucks” on Capitol Hill in Seattle named “Roy Street Coffee and Tea,” which is their second location so far. To make this location more original, the store is decorated with furniture from vintage and antique stores throughout Seattle and offers alternative baked goods from Essential Baking. There is also a drop-down screen for showing films.

But, do all these factors truly make “Roy Street Coffee and Tea” original? The secret has been revealed and was even being investigated before this location opened. So many Seattle citizens know about these secret Starbucks shops, that it isn’t such a big secret anymore.

This project does not hide the Starbucks brand, it simply puts on a show for the customers’ sake. The Starbucks corporation wants to prove that it cares about its customers’ love for coffee more than the brand. Yet, if people know they are walking into a secret Starbucks location, then there is an obvious brand name association.

No doubt, it was a smart business move to regain title of comfortable coffee house, but it also just shows how willing they are to trick customers who are looking for a one-of-a-kind coffee experience.

One Weekend with National Geographic

-Tiana Bouma

I thought I knew something about cameras. I could take a decent picture, and the auto function always helped. My mom knows about her camera, she loves photography and has been able to answer any questions I have had so far.  But I found out this weekend that my knowledge was limited.

Thursday night, November 19th, was the first evening of my 4-day photography workshop with National Geographic in Washington D.C. That night, we heard the background stories of two of Dan Westergen’s trips.  Westergren is a senior photo editor for National Geographic Traveler. His adventures include a trip was to the North Pole at the 90th parallel and another to Mt Kilimanjaro to climb to the peak.

The workshop was led by Westergren, Jennifer Davidson, and Krista Rossow, a photo editor for National Geographic Traveler and University of Oregon graduate.

Day 1

The day started out early with a three-hour class at the National Geographic building. We met with the editors of the National Geographic Special Edition and got to drill them with questions about their jobs and photos.

In those three hours it was obvious that I knew little about the nuances of photography.  When the class released to go take pictures in Dupont Square, a few people stayed behind to get a quick crash course on our cameras from Jennifer Davidson, an expedition leader for National Geographic and a phenomenal photographer. A half-hour class changed my whole perspective of my camera. I had a greater confidence taking a million pictures of anything I saw.

After three hours of adventuring around taking pictures with my mom, the group met again at National Geographic for a critique and share session. Their editing process was simply about picking our twenty favorite shots from the hundreds taken during that day, no tweaking or cropping needed. From our twenty favorite shots, Westergren and Davidson would choose their four favorite and explain why they were good shots.  Those four were then presented to our workshop group of 20 or so people to get feedback from everyone.

It was slightly stressful having my photos critiqued by so many talented photographers, but the advice was well worth the nervous butterflies.

Day 2

Saturday was our earliest and longest day. Although optional, we were told by Westergren, Rossow and Davidson that it would be best to be at the Lincoln Monument at 6:30 AM for sunrise shots of the monuments and surrounding area. As a west-coast resident still trying to adjust to the time difference, 6:30 AM felt like torture.

The photos were worth the early morning. My mom and I explored a new side of Washington D.C. and got helpful tips of taking nighttime shots. (They usually don’t work; sunrise and sunset are the times to get “night” shots).

Again, we met for a critique session with the workshop group and the difference in the photographers from day 1 to day 2 was obvious. The depth of field and focus had transformed to fit what National Geographic Traveler looks for in photos.

A 13-hour day exhausted everyone and we retired early after a group dinner for another workshop at the Eastern Market on Sunday morning. The workshop leaders collaborated on a video of the top photographs from the workshop and showed it at the dinner.

Day 3

The workshop was concluded with a trip to the Eastern Market, about 8 blocks from Capitol Hill. The Eastern Market was a hodgepodge of homemade jam stands, purse makers, butchers, antiqued wares, and the famous button lady. Most vendors were willing to be photographed and some even approached me, but it was the candid shots that I loved best.

A flea market covered two blocks and the items on sale had been collected from every corner of the world. Everything presented such clear stories in the photographs. It was easy to take 200-300 photos in two hours.

The final hours of the workshop were spent in a tour of the National Geographic layout room. Westergren explained his process of editing and choosing photos for the most recent edition of National Geographic Traveler. The behind the scene look into the Traveler magazine helped to cement my love of the company. The experiences of National Geographic photographers and writers can’t be replaced or duplicated.

The week I spent in DC felt much too short for all the information I learned. It has altered my work as a photographer and even as a writer. I have a new standard to hold myself to and a new goal. The vibe of National Geographic and D.C. isn’t something I can explain in words. It was an encompassing joy to be a part of the workshop and explore parts of D.C. I hadn’t seen yet.

It was a trip that changed my future, that made my dream that much more real. The workshop was an experience and a detailed lesson on professional photography that can’t be repeated.