Denver, Colorado-based editorial, commercial, and advertising photographer Matt Nager has been covering stories about marijuana for years. His portfolio features a variety of images — everything from grow houses and dispensaries to political players and pot smokers.
Recently, he had the opportunity to photograph a series of portraits for The Times Magazine of Charlotte Figi, a little girl who uses a non-euphoric strain of marijuana to treat her epilepsy. The strain, which is low in THC and was developed with her in mind, is appropriately named “Charlotte’s Web.” The shoot with Charlotte and her family required portraits in the Figi home, and in the grow house where her strain is cultivated.
For Matt, unconventional locations are the norm, but this shoot presented a different set of challenges:
Because [Charlotte’s] story has become the center of so much media attention, the family devotes specific days for the media. Charlotte was having a tough day, and being in front of camera was not in her plan. She didn’t want to look at the camera and had trouble sitting still. We photographed in their home and at the location where they grow her marijuana. Oddly, she was most comfortable simply walking around the farm. I was able to get some quiet shots.
Matt used a visible background in some of the shots to give Charlotte her own “space within the scene.” The photos were featured prominently in The Times Magazine, and the reaction to the images has been positive.
The magazine was very pleased. Given how the media has covered the marijuana issue, this is one of the most unique aspects of the whole story. It sparks an actual conversation about the pros and cons of the pot.