Portrait and culinary photographer Jack Robert spent a few hours in Wonderland at Greenville, S.C.’s brand new literary-inspired cocktail bar, The Rabbit Hole. Jack, who is based in Greenville himself, is a regular freelancer for TOWN Carolina Magazine and his talent for capturing the vibrancy of his city made him the perfect person to announce the bar’s debut. Once he was able to find his way back out, he shared his journey down The Rabbit Hole.
Bar owner Sebastian Carter is from Daresbury, a village in Cheshire, England, which happens to also be the hometown of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (or the more commonly known Disney title, Alice in Wonderland). The bar pays homage to the strange world Alice falls into in the famous children’s story. With plush, velvet seating, a moss wall, vintage chandeliers, and a memorable bathroom, one feels as though they are drinking with the Queen of Hearts.
The bathroom is quite the experience at this place. I know you might be thinking, ‘The bathroom?!?’ Yes, the bathroom.
The decor is straight out of Alice in Wonderland, a collage of vintage photos and illustrations line the walls, flowers are bursting from the ceiling, and a recording of the book is played through speakers the whole time.
For years, Jack has been TOWN Magazine’s go-to photographer for many of the major social events in Greenville. If Jack’s not there, it hasn’t happened. Feeling comfortable with how he documents the city’s scene, the client gave him the reins on this assignment.
I was able to reach out to the owner and work with him on timing, considering part of the bar was still under construction. When I arrived, the mixologist and I decided which drinks would photograph best. All in all, we probably spent two to three hours photographing the place.
As short a time as that sounds, Jack is tenacious about making the images to his liking during the shoot, and much like the story, he has the ability to transport you to a space. The lighting in the images evokes the feel of velvet and the clink of ice in a cocktail.
I try to make the lighting as awesome as possible in-camera. The better it looks in real life, the less I have to do in post. I used a bare bulb strobe, along with a 3’ softbox – my typical setup these days!
The most time-consuming image was the full room shot. Jack uses a technique called compositing so every section of the room is well-lit. To ensure that he is covering all his bases, he likes to have an assistant on hand to help with lighting and placing.
I typically have an assistant with a keen eye for detail come with me, as was the case for this shoot.
Jack really enjoyed working with the owner, whose attention to detail and care for his bar were apparent. Being featured in TOWN Carolina is important exposure for a new business in Greenville. Jack’s appreciation for this lush, thoughtful bar comes through in his photographs, helping to promote the space in an authentic way.
Sebastian was an incredibly kind, informative person and was passionate about his bar.
There’s one more twist to this Alice in Wonderland-themed cocktail lounge that Jack divulged.
The Rabbit Hole has a secret bar that isn’t pictured, maybe you’d have to come to find out!