This week we had the pleasure of sitting down with cannabis and lifestyle photographer, Oleg Zharsky. Well known in the Seattle area for being a staple in the photography community, Oleg is a great resource for information on all things cannabis industry-related from a creative's perspective. In the interview, he talks about balancing his 9-5 with his freelance work, the unique challenges to shooting cannabis, and his own personal smoking preferences. Check it out!
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Oleg Zharsky and I am a freelance photographer, including the cannabis industry.
So I know you have a job outside of your freelance work. How do you balance your photography with your 9-5?
It took a while to get that nailed down, but my job is pretty flexible with my schedule, and I can take the time off that I need to do my other freelance projects. It took about a year to figure out my schedule and get that all balanced out.
Why do you choose to consume cannabis?
That's a good one. I guess I like to consume cannabis because it makes me a better person. I tend to run a little angry and so it just tapers my anger down a lot throughout the week. It calms me down.
How has cannabis affected your day to day lifestyle?
It's greatly affected it. Ever since I got into smoking more and being in the industry, it's part of my life every day now. I've gotten to meet a lot of really cool people who are in the industry.
How did you transition over into working in the cannabis space?
That's a good question too. So, back in the medical days, me and a buddy actually ran a cannabis delivery service. I used to take all the photos for our little website that we had, so we could have a little menu. That's kind of how I got into it, and then as I met more people in the industry I saw that there was a need for it.
Okay so, this is a really important question for other photographers who are trying to do what you're doing. Both your macro shots and your lifestyle shots are really good. What's your camera setup?
I use a Canon 5d Mark III camera body. For my macro shots, I use a Sigma 105 mm macro lens, and then for portraits and lifestyle stuff, I use a Sigma 35mm.
Which do you prefer? The portraits or the macro shots?
At first, I liked doing the macro shots, but they're just very technical. There isn't much as far as having a creative outlet with those, just a lot of technical knowledge that you need to do those, and it gets a little boring. So I definitely like to do a lot more lifestyle and portrait stuff with cannabis. It's a lot more fun, and you can get a little more creative with it.
What are the unique challenges that you find yourself facing when you shoot cannabis versus non-cannabis?
Since it's just a really still object, you have to give it more life and make it seem more interesting than "Hey here's a macro shot of a nug." So you have to add something else to it, like a really cool background or some color to make it pop more. That's definitely the most challenging part of shooting cannabis.
What advice would you give to someone looking to move over into the cannabis space, or maybe more specifically, into cannabis photography?
Be patient. There's a lot to learn, and the cannabis industry is still very immature, so it's really easy to get discouraged by the people you work with because they're still very new to working with creatives. So just, be patient.
How does your family feel about you working in the cannabis industry?
I think my mom's cool with it. My dad, not so much. But you know, he doesn't really like weed that much so, there's definitely some butting heads with that. We always get into little arguments, and he thinks I'm wasting my time, but I'm not.
Okay, so we're going to move over to some of the fun questions. First, what's your favorite activity to do while stoned?
Probably editing photos, and learning new techniques from watching tutorials. It's a lot easier for me to get into that mode if I'm high, as opposed to a sober mind because some of those tutorials get a little boring. If you're high it just makes it a little more entertaining.
What's your favorite way to consume?
I think my favorite way to consume is smoking flower. There's a lot more taste to it, you can check out the structure of the bud and you can smell it. Concentrates are great when you're on the go and trying to get high fast. Definitely, the best way I love smoking flower is in joints.
What is your most memorable high story?
Probably the first time I got high. I was with some buddies, and they decided to get me high with a gravity bong. So yeah, my first time getting high was with a gravity bong and it was really intense.
What is your favorite high food?
That's a little difficult since I just recently started eating more vegetarian. I would say pizza, but cheese pizza is kind of boring. Chips, maybe? Yea, chips.