Vaping is a phenomenon that has swept across America and much of the First World, mostly as a safer alternative to cigarettes. The culture, however, is what has caught the attention of the media worldwide. Smoke tricks have likely been around for as long as humans have been inhaling smoke, but vaping has spawned something quite interesting out of it: smoke tricks and ridiculous plumes of vapor spilling out of people’s nostrils. Photographer Louis Amore (whom we featured last year with his portrait series of English veterans) went to a local vapor shop, Prohibition Vapes, to document a vaping competition.
Amore told me that he was never aware of the culture that surrounds vaping. “I couldn’t quite work out how a competition would work, but Billy, the owner [at Prohibition Vapes], showed me some videos and I was pretty amazed,” he said.
The series was conceived upon his stumbling into Prohibition where he had gone for coffee. He went on to tell me that, initially, it was a strange feeling for him.
“It felt like I shouldn’t be in here, this is for cool kids. Everyone was smoking vapes. I loved the shop and surroundings; the vibe was really pleasant. I loved the fact that I knew nothing about the ‘craze’. It’s so new and refreshing to see young people getting together and socializing over something other than alcohol,” Amore said. He realized then that this could be a fantastic subject for a portrait series.
Amore said that the process of photographing the event and creating the portraits was very enjoyable. The compositions, he told me, were difficult to create as predicting what the competitor was going to do with the smoke was near impossible. “I didn’t know whether it would cover the whole frame or what direction it was going to go,” said Amore. “The people were really lovely, however.”
While creating the series, Amore was pleased to learn that the vapor doesn’t always contain tobacco. The owner told him that a lot of customers come in wishing to give up smoking. Personally, I don’t understand the culture much, but it’s great to see people looking out for themselves and having fun with it.
To create these images, Amore used a Nikon D810 wearing a Sigma 24mm Art Series lens. The lighting consisted of an Elinchrom ELB400 One Action Head To Go kit with an Elinchrom 100mm Rotalux softbox. He mentioned that this setup allowed for maximum portability and quick set-up times, something I imagine is a must in a crowded vape shop.
Louis Amore is a photographer in North London. More of his work can be found on his website.