Back in October when I drove up to Colorado by myself for the first time in an effort to meet Jane West, I reached out to dispensaries in Boulder and Denver to see if anyone would let me come in and take some practice photos of their stores, and I could supply them with full rights to the photos for free. When I sent out the inquiry emails, I thought that people would be thrilled to have someone come take photos for them for free - but I quickly found out this was not the case. Turns out, there are all kinds of laws about photographing in dispensaries and who can be in what ares of the facility when. I discovered it was a much more complicated request than I had intended.
One dispensary, however, decided to give me a chance. Ean Seeb at Denver Relief was kind enough to let me come in for an hour one morning and take photos of whatever my heart desired. I even had a bud tender pull down products for me to get close-ups, and I got to talk to him about the different strains and his life experiences - which was fascinating.
Originally, I had planned to bring props to this photoshoot so that I could do more styling - but I ended up getting lost in Denver, parking about 2 blocks away from the building, and didn't want to lug my rolling prop case into the store with me - especially since I had no idea what to expect. Was I going to have an area to set up? What would the light be like? I almost always use natural lighting for my photos - so this was a struggle for me. And I was only going to have a short period of time.
I had never before been to Denver Relief. It was clear upon entry that it was a friendly and welcoming environment. Ean gave me a tour of the place, and I was enamored with the culture they had created through their brand. They had come up with their own house strains and their own branding for each one - something that as a design nerd, I had a total soft spot for.
I of course found myself panicking as I began taking photos. I had lots - and I mean lots - of throw away images. And I wouldn't call what you see below anything special by any means - in fact, I'm almost embarrassed of what I came out with. But it was exactly the experience I needed to give me the confidence to talk with those in charge of successful businesses, and if I ever do get hired to come take photos at a dispensary, I know much better what to expect and some of the issues I might face.
While photographing, I wanted to capture the entire experience of the dispensary. While cannabis is a part of it, it's not the only part - the waiting area, wall displays, and coffee table books all combine to create the total experience that is Denver Relief. Below, I've compiled the top images.
In return for allowing me to disrupt their day and encroach on their privacy, I edited and put together all of the keepers from my photoshoot to give Denver Relief to use however they wanted. I also put together a contact sheet that outlined how to navigate the folders of images. I had every image in both black and white and color, and in its original aspect ratio as well as a square, for easy posting to Instagram. Check it out to see even more photos!
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