The Life of a Cannabis Photographer: Kyle LeGrow
When you follow your passion, amazing things can happen. Renowned dab photographer Kyle LeGrow explains the trials and tribulations he faced starting out, and how perseverance has paid off.
After trying my first dab in 2013, I was instantly hooked. What started as a fun pastime soon became an obsession, and I found myself wanting to join the cannabis industry but had no idea how. Around this time Instagram began to pop, and I noticed my news feed was flooded with low-quality pictures of everyone’s most recent pack. I dusted off my old DSLR camera and set off with the goal to document all the best dabs in Canada. Now, I fully support myself by taking photos of weed for companies like Kind Selections and Cookies.
Growing up, my dad would have a camera on him anytime he wasn’t at work, so I started to ask him how to take photos of dabs. He lent me his old macro lens and sent me off with a few good pointers. Every time I would get a new jar of oil, I would try capturing a good photo, and eventually after reaching out to every company I could find on Instagram trying to get them to send me a jar of oil to photograph, I finally got a response from a local B.C. company. After giving me extracts to photograph, the company told me, in a nutshell, “I need one good photo, not 20 mediocre photos,” and let me go.
Creating the Perfect Photo
Over the course of a few years more and more companies began reaching out to send oil for photos. Suddenly I was photo documenting one of the greatest eras in Canadian cannabis history, with legalization a few years away, many medical companies began seeing the value of good pictures to help their immediate sales, while helping build a brand that stands the test of time.
hash into a paying side hustle. The company that had let me go years prior approached me, and I began doing photos for all their weekly drops. Kind Selections was pumping out more strains in a week than many companies dropped in a month, and suddenly my photos were being seen coast to coast. I was working 40-50 hours a week as a backcountry guide in Whistler, Canada, and would spend another 20-30 hours a week working on my dab photos. I had to start getting my shifts covered to meet photo deadlines, and I was getting to try all the tastiest jars of extracts from all over the country. I would reinvest all my money into camera gear. At the time I lived in a tiny illegal suite, and my roommate would eat microwavable meals to allow me to use our entire kitchen as a studio. Eventually I decided to leave the expensive resort town for a smaller town where I could afford a room dedicated to being a studio!I was able to turn a hobby of trading photos for a jar of
Persevering in a Pandemic
Around this time COVID hit, and I lost my job as a guide. I realized my next check would be coming from the government, and I knew I had to do something. I reached out to a lot of the companies that I had previously gotten no response from, and suddenly I was booking photoshoots three months out in advance. My camera took more than 200,000 images that year. ZOOM meetings became the new norm, and soon I was chatting to marketing teams and executive boards about objectives of upcoming shoots.
As our industry changes, the grows have changed from transformed garages into 600,000-sq. ft. facilities. My favorite thing about working in the cannabis industry is the resilience and hard work ethic of everyone involved. No matter where I get to travel for photos, the love and respect for the plant is the same.
Since becoming a cannabis photographer, I get some funny reactions when people ask what I do for work. I have also gotten the freedom to work for myself. Getting to choose who I work with, and what projects I take on allows me to stay engaged in everything I do. I wake up every day stoked to do what I love.
The thing that makes it so easy for me to love my job is I live and breathe dabs. The ritual of a perfect dab, the taste and effects of a craft extract, and all the hard work it takes to get there makes each dab a special experience.
I am also proud to be able to work with companies like Maximum Yield to share the story of Canadian producers with the rest of the world. To see a photo of Kind Selections on the front cover of this magazine on a rack next to National Geographic and Forbes is one of the highlights of my career so far.
Through working in the industry, and since writing my last article I saw the opportunity to create a new product and released a new way to clean your dab nails after having a dab, with a dual dunk station, called Banger Basket. With legalization on the horizon around the world, I look forward to continuing to document where the plant and its resins go and hope to continue to reduce the stigma and make cannabis more accessible worldwide through education. If you have a cannabis story to tell, whether it be the newest dankest strain, or a fight for legalization, I love to travel and work with likeminded people to bring our stories to the world.
Huge thanks to everyone that’s believed in me and pushed me to get here. Never stop believing in yourself. Anything’s possible if your heart’s fully in it.