In recent years, the popularity of cannabis and CBD products has skyrocketed, causing a slew of new and innovative brands to hit the market – and they look nothing like the hippy-dippy iconography of the summer of love. Portland, Oregon-based photographer Richard Darbonne recently worked with Make & Mary, a new luxury beauty CBD brand.
The resulting project offers us a glimpse of just how the cannabis industry has changed (and how it hasn’t) through his portraits of founder Yvonne Perez Emerson.
In Oregon, where recreational use has been legal since 2015, cannabis is not unusual. Still, it’s a growing industry that has embraced all kinds of experimental products and a new generation of young, creative professionals from various backgrounds. Yvonne is one of those people — a Latinx designer who saw an opportunity to merge her love of plant medicine with her creative, entrepreneurial spirit.
Yvonne approached Richard about shooting some lifestyle portraits to launch her brand, and as they discussed ideas, they both felt that photographing her in the hemp field where she sources some of her products would be the ideal backdrop. She had been approached by Forbes magazine, and they knew the images would be used for an article in the magazine.
Richard vividly recalls the scent of cannabis when arriving at the farm. The aroma that permeated the air had a calming quality, one of the many reasons Yvonne’s line includes CBD aromatherapy products.
In recent years, large patches of land have been turned into cannabis farms, and in the summer months, the smell of cannabis hangs thick in the air. When you get to the farm, the smell immediately hits you. The cannabis plants are big, some getting as large as five feet tall.
The vibrant green hemp fields and tall plants made for an ideal backdrop, creating a harmonious visual contrast between the subject’s dark clothing and the greenery. It also served as a storytelling device to showcase Yvonne’s connection to the plants and her commitment to natural wellness.
I got her to walk through the rows of cannabis plants which really set the mood. I was shooting as she was walking toward me and these plants were about as tall as she was, and the smell was intoxicating.
During the shoot, Richard took the time to chat with Yvonne and make sure she felt comfortable. This allowed him to capture more natural and spontaneous moments, like Yvonne’s warm, genuine smile in a moment of laughter.
Just trust your process and be patient. Wait for the right moment. When the energy shifts and things start clicking, you feel it, and your subject feels it.
Using props like a hat and Yvonne’s motorcycle, Richard created images that authentically communicate her personality and her unapologetic approach to embracing who she is and showcasing it in everything she creates for Make & Mary.
For the main portrait, I wanted something bold. The whole shoot, I had been eyeing her friend’s brown felt hat. She put that hat on, and I did some close shots and knew those were the ones.
See more of Richard’s work at richarddarbonne.com
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