Checkout this month's issue of Kush Magazine featuring an interview with Cannabis Camera owner and lead photographer, Kim Sidwell! Pick up a copy at any Colorado dispensary or read the full text below!
Kim Sidwell – “The future motivates me”. By CiCi Dunn
Kim Sidwell is no stranger to the broad spectrum of the art of photography. From cannabis activism to family portraits, Kim Sidwell touches many people’s hearts with her sincere approach and strives to document the ever-changing political landscape here in Colorado. Recently, I caught up with Kim to find out more about the person behind the lens.
Tell me a bit about your background.
I’ve been shooting professionally for over ten years. I shoot everything; portraiture, products, events, time-lapse and documentary work, however, I mostly focus on activism. I received my Bachelors Degree in Photography from The Art Institute of Colorado in 2009. It wasn’t until my graduation in 2009 that I became heavily involved in the Cannabis Community. I chose this path after seeing how cannabis helped my father when he was fighting his battle with colon cancer. I also observed how harmful common pharmaceuticals were when treating my mother’s many medical problems, so when it became time for me to choose a treatment for my own migraines, I made the healthy choice to medicate with cannabis instead of the other potentially deadly and highly addictive pharmaceutical options. I chose to involve myself in this industry professionally because I have very high hopes for the future of this plant and truly felt like I was in the right place at the right time to record history in the making. I love working in every aspect of this community such as documenting protests and rallies, shooting new interesting products, and of course photographing the most beautiful and useful plant Mother Nature has given us.
Tell me something about yourself that not many people know.
I have an identical twin sister. She lives in Missouri and has the cutest little girl you’ve ever seen.
When did you discover that you wanted to dedicate your life to the art of photography?
There was not a specific moment when I decided to be a photographer. For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in photography. I received my first “real” camera on my 16th birthday, since then I haven’t stopped shooting.
You’re an incredibly versatile photographer that shoots anything from commercial, time-lapse and portraiture to activism. Which area of photography is your favorite and why?
One reason I enjoy shooting so many different genres is because it’s never the same day twice. It’s always interesting, but if I had to pick one genre, I’d say time-lapse because it takes me back to of the days of film when you had to wait hours or days for your results to be processed. With time-lapse there isn’t that instant gratification that exists with digital photography. It adds an element of anticipation that I miss from the old days of film.
One of the things that I truly respect you for is your activist heart for the MMJ/Hemp movement; you’re always on the spot documenting big and small happenings here in Colorado and nationally. What motivates you?
The future motivates me. I believe that we are currently witnessing the last days of cannabis prohibition. We are at the end of an era and I want nothing more than to be here to document the efforts of all the dedicated people who continue to work so hard for what they believe in. The future is ours and I can’t wait to tag along for the ride.
How do you think your photos can teach people social justice?
I think photography in general is a powerful tool because it allows images of people standing up to injustice to be seen by the masses, and it creates a document that future generations can see to understand how activists who spoke out and stood up for what they believed in changed things.
If you could have a photo session with any person in the world, who would that be?
I have always wanted to turn the camera on Annie Leibovitz. I admire her career, her work and her ability to shoot anything, anywhere. It would be an honor to photograph her.
Tell me something that annoys or frustrates you about people.
The one thing I really can’t handle is a person with a closed mind. It bothers me when people are so set in their ways that they refuse to acknowledge basic facts or even hear them.
While out on a photo mission, what is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and was it worth it?
The biggest risk I’ve ever taken was probably during the 2008 Democratic National Convention when I made the decision to follow an anti-capitalist protest a little too closely and wound up getting myself arrested. And yes, it was absolutely worth it. It opened my eyes like nothing else could have.
Something you’ve always wanted to photograph, but have yet to?
Way too many things to list here, but if I had to say something off the top of my head, I’d go with The Aurora Borealis. Someday, I’d love to take my camera around the world and knock out half the list in one big trip.
Tell me a few words that sum up your philosophy on life.
My life, so far, has been somewhat of a rollercoaster, with lots of ups and downs. The one thing I always try to remember is that life is constantly changing so when you’re up, enjoy it while it lasts and when you’re down just hang in there and things will eventually get better. As much as I used to hate this expression, I’ve found that what doesn’t kill you REALLY DOES make you stronger. So I try my best to just hold on for the ride, learn from my mistakes and remember that the ride is ultimately shorter than you think so make sure you give lots of hugs, laugh a lot, and if you love someone, let them know it.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
I hope to document the end of Cannabis Prohibition and witness the birth of a new and booming hemp/cannabis industry.
TIP! The entire month of March at HoodLAB is dedicated to the works of Kim Sidwell showcasing a year of art shows and activism.
‘One Year of HoodLAB & Activism by Kim Sidwell’: March 2nd – April 5th 2012
HoodLAB - 629 Santa Fe Dr. Denver (303) 893 -1069