Like a lot of photographers, I get the most powerful information from visual cues. More than any other system of information, for me, is to see something is the beginning of understanding it. I live in suburban Philadelphia and have spent a lot of time in the city photographing what I guess you could call its cultural ‘pulse.’ Wandering through that world, I found my way to vaping.
About a year and a half ago, a vape shop opened near to my home called Blue Dream Vapor Lounge in Voorhees, N.J. The name of the establishment is worth mentioning. It’s owned and operated by two incredibly knowledgeable guys, Will Merget and Armando Schiano. From my perspective, the atmosphere they’ve created for vaping is a goldmine of beautiful imagery. Will is an artist himself and has original art hanging everywhere. The colors, the lighting and the way the space flows makes everything a photographic opportunity. It wasn’t long before I was asked to be the house photographer for their special events, aspects of social media and general advertising. It’s time well spent, and I’ve abandoned my Black & Milds for a temperature controlled box mod, a Vapeston Maganus, and an e-liquid called Blue Smash by BlueDream Vapor.
I’ve become passionate about vaping, its correlation with a healthier lifestyle and the growing awareness of that benefit. To my way of thinking, documenting it photographically is the best method of communication I’ve found to contribute to a revolutionary cause. Photographs tell stories and, if successful, can explain and help people understand what something is. The vaping culture is tied in closely with new technologies, a steep learning curve and a proactive changing society. Some people write about these things to explain them, some weigh and measure, but I’d rather show them to you. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a painstaking process to set up a shot or if I’m stopping an instant in time spontaneously. What matters are the things the image will do ultimately. I ask myself, ‘What will this idea say about vaping?’ As a vaper, I’m conscientious about whether the device, as a whole, is sound and if the subject appears to be using it correctly. I don’t want my images associated with risky behavior. So, if all technicalities are in order, is the photograph relatable? Is it relevant? I want my photographs to talk to everyone about today, the present.
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The majority of the ‘visible’ vaping population are people in their 20’s and 30’s, so that limits who I can photograph. I wish it were otherwise because this is not simply a trend for young people. It’s a rational option for all people in all age groups. In spite of who I have access to photograph, it’s my job to make honest, dynamic images of real people. No matter how ordinary or how much glamour or grit in the frame, there’s always something curiously beautiful in the ‘elegance of the cloud.’
Instagram: @JFontPhoton Email: JFontPhotography@yahoo.com