Written By Jennifer Lipinski
Canadian psychologist, Steven Pinker, once said that the art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer. Lit Studio, a commercial photography studio in Long Island, New York, does exactly that through their highly curated product shots.
New York native and founder of Lit Studio, Keith Romanowski, is capturing a fresh perspective for viewers on cannabis, one flash at a time.
“I think cannabis is one of the most diverse and medicinal plants on earth. Cannabis deserves to be on a throne. It should be shown in the very best light. And to show the world the beauty of this amazing plant is one of the reasons I’m here.”
Romanowski united his photography career with the industry in 2019, before New York and surrounding states had legalized cannabis for recreational use. After his two passions crossed, Romanowski decided to transform the way brands presented their consumer products to the market.
Emerald sat down with Romanowski to discuss his career, his new passion for cannabis photography, and what the future holds for Lit Studio and the industry.
Emerald Media: When did you first realize that you wanted to go into cannabis photography?
Keith Romanowski: It was early 2019 and hemp had just recently become federally legal. The hemp industry was flooded with terrible images. I knew this was a huge problem. But why do you need great images for your business? If your website is like a brick-and-mortar store, your images are the salesperson. It’s the thing that gets people to walk through the door, but it’s also the thing that makes them want to stay and buy something. And if you don’t have great images? You may as well lock the door and shut off the lights. It’s just not going to work.
This was my opportunity to make a difference, and be a part of this amazing community. Yet, when I first started trying to sell my services it was incredibly hard. Fast forward three years, now no one is caught dead with poor product images.
EM: What makes cannabis photography special?
KR: I think cannabis is one of the most diverse and medicinal plants on earth. Cannabis deserves to be on a throne. It should be shown in the very best light. And to show the world the beauty of this amazing plant is one of the reasons I’m here.
EM: Do you remember the first time you started smoking or using cannabis products?
KR: I was in San Francisco in my early 20’s shooting for a BMX magazine. It was a late summer night when I was passed a joint. California Dreamin’ was playing in the background. After one or two hits, I began to sink deeper and deeper into the couch. Later, I took a cab ride back to my hotel. I remember looking out the cab window and the street lights were streaking by as if I were on the Millennium Falcon and just hit warp speed. It was an incredible euphoric feeling that I’ll never forget.
It wasn’t until my early 30’s did I realize I could use cannabis as medicine. It could help with my stress, anxiety, and boost creativity. The more I learned about it, the more I loved it. Now I can’t imagine life without it.
EM: What is your favorite part of the job?
KR: Any business owner will tell you that running a business is tough. It takes an enormous amount of time, patience, and energy. And when you see your business starting to grow it’s exciting. But doing it alone is not easy. As they say, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” When a client tells me that working together was one of the best business decisions they have ever made, it always makes me happy. Nothing is more beautiful than seeing my clients shine in their own space.
EM: Tell us about your process of working with other brands and photographing cannabis.
KR: From soup to nuts, I like to keep the entire photography process simple and straightforward. I guide all my clients through the process, listen to their needs, and offer suggestions to help make their products look their best. I want every client to walk away with images they can be proud of. Getting great photos every time for your business should be easy.
EM: How has cannabis impacted your life?
KR: Let’s face it. We all got something. Mine is anxiety. It can feel like there is an elephant on my chest. Yet, sometimes, all it takes is a few hits to keep me grounded. It allows me to navigate through that tension and focus on the important things in life.
EM: Are there any stigmas around cannabis that have affected you or your company?
KR: When I started Lit Studio I had no support. No one thought that shooting cannabis full-time was a good idea. Every inch of the way was uphill. Why exactly, I’m not sure, but more than likely it was due to the stigma of cannabis. On the other hand, I didn’t have a drop of doubt I was on the right path.
EM: What are the core values of your company?
KR: Have you ever been to a five-star resort and had an amazing experience? Where not a single detail was overlooked. And when you checked out your standard of quality and service was forever changed? That’s the experience I want to give to my clients. The reason why is because I’ve been there and it changed me. It’s not only helped me run my business but more importantly changed how I treat others. And if I can give that experience and level of quality to my clients nothing would make me happier.
EM: What do you hope to see for the future of the cannabis industry?
KR: Hands down federal legalization. I believe we are getting closer and closer every day. Fingers crossed!
EM: What is in store for the future of Lit Studio?
KR: With New York rolling out legalization, I am really excited to help support cannabis vendors in the state I call home. Great things can happen when we come together. It’s time to get New York Lit!