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Street photographers have different ways to maximize their creativity. Some like to meditate before shooting, while others pump themselves full of caffeine. When I’m in a country that legally allows it, I like to dine on an edible before I shoot street photography. (You know, the happy kind.) I’ll paraphrase: I like to get gently toasted before going to make street photographs.
Editor’s Note: Dan pitched this idea to me. I approved it. We’re not telling you to go out, do it, and talk about it on social media just so you can get a quick algorithm bump. This piece is for fun. If you’re going to do something like this, do it safely. The Phoblographer will never condone illegal activity or anything that can annoy or cause harm.
Although the world is becoming more open regarding edible consumption, the conversation isn’t quite where it should be. While it’s socially acceptable to have a couple of Old Fashioneds on a Tuesday, getting a little high still seems taboo. While I’m not an advocate for constant consumption, I believe getting high comes with many benefits. One of the main benefits is that it opens up your mind and makes you more sensitive. This is something I believe is highly advantageous when shooting street photography.
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Shooting Street Photography on Edibles in L.A.
I remember arriving in Los Angeles, California. It was the first city I had ever visited where it was legal to purchase edibles. In the past, my purchases involved a spotty teenager on a bike, a sketchy alley, and an awkward handshake. When I arrived at Sweet Flower on Melrose Avenue, I felt like I was in an Apple store. I was greeted by Monica. She was helpful and showed me the range of products available on her snazzy iPad. “Where am I?” I thought to myself. After she identified my “wants and needs”, I left Sweet Flower with some magic candy.
It also happened to be Halloween. Every street photographer should visit L.A. on Halloween. Santa Monica Boulevard transforms into one big, wild street party. From spooky outfits to S&M leather, the apparel displayed is a photographer’s dream. All this was the perfect recipe to take my edible and see what happens.
Street Photography and Paranoia
Let me preface this section by saying any paranoia I had quickly went away. After a small amount of time, things improved and became extraordinary. That said, with edibles, it’s a waiting game, which can create a little bit of nervousness. As soon I began to feel my gummy bear kicking in, I became super aware of the world around me. More so, I felt like everyone around me had become super aware of me, which is a nightmare for street photography. But, after a bit of a pep talk with my brain, I started to settle. And this was where things got interesting.
I Brought Out my Flash for Street Photography
I can count on both hands how many times I’ve used my flash when shooting street photography. It’s just not my style. Firstly, I worry too much that I’ll upset somebody. And secondly, I’m never sure how best to utilize flash for my street work. But while working a little high, my inhibitions quickly lowered. I wanted to paint the streets with light and have my eye-catching subjects immersed in some creative illumination.
Color, Color, Color!
A quick disclaimer: I gravitate towards vibrant colors with or without the help of a gummy bear. But on this occasion, I didn’t gravitate; I magnetized myself to the vibrancy of the streets. I made the below photo at the peak of my high. Lady Luck was on my side as the night sky was purple, perfectly positioned above a hot dog joint called Pinks. I remember being totally in the zone at this point. I was connected to the scene and I waited until the colors blended perfectly for, what I believe, was the perfect moment to create the image.
Gaining More Empathy
I think many street photographers are empaths. I’ll admit I’m at the bottom end of the emphatic scale. However, when shooting street photography gently toasted, I felt an overwhelming connection to people’s feelings while they enjoyed their time on the street. At this point, I photographed people rejoicing, hugging, and being physically and emotionally connected.
In the past, I would turn my nose up at public displays of affection. At this moment, however, I felt it was truly beautiful. For me, it was overwhelming. But it allowed me to create images you wouldn’t often find in my portfolio.
I Appreciated My Relationship With the Craft
Sometimes, we do things so often we no longer connect to the true value they brings to our lives. There was a distinct moment that happened during that evening. I stopped shooting, stood in the middle of the street, and gripped my Fujifilm X-T2 tightly. It’s difficult to put into words what happened, but as it’s my job, I’ll do my best. There was a cloud of euphoria that surrounded me. I also felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for street photography. I was grateful for having a passion, grateful for every single person on that street that had connected to my lens.
I’m not ashamed to admit that at the moment, I cried. I had tears of pure joy because I realized that in a world full of struggle, street photography was my escape.
Those who enjoy getting high will understand what happened that night was due to my happy edible. It heightens your senses and allows you to connect to your mind on a much deeper level than usual. Shooting street photography was a beautiful experience that evening. And the following day, I felt emotionally lighter.
Will I do this every time? Of course not. Again, I think everything should be done in moderation. But sometimes, when I’m creatively lost or struggling to see the value in the craft, a little gummy bear in a place where it’s legal will certainly have its benefits.
What helps you get creative while shooting candid photography? Do you enjoy a little special something to open up your mind? I’d love to know about your experience. Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.