Smoking On the Clock (Pipe Smoking on the Job and Other Stories)

Layers of Autumn copy

It was a cold Autumn day in 2014, and I was working with a fresh model named Rose. She came to me to help her build her portfolio, which is one of the many services I provide as a photographer.

Our shoot location came to mind immediately when she showed me the outfits she wanted to shoot in. I often pick outside locations for portfolio building shoots. This style of shooting adds character, is more comfortable for a new model, and of course, affords me the opportunity to smoke on the job.

I often worry about smoking on the job, due to the manufactured and bureaucratic demonization of tobacco. I always try to approach non-smokers with a mind of change and equality, leaving them with a bit of wonder, and perhaps a good memory related to the tobacco itself to help combat these ridiculous wars on the leaf.

I usually only take one pouch of tobacco with me on the shoots. It keeps things simple so that I can focus on my work. I store the tobacco in an old, leather Peterson tobacco pouch that I bought years ago and has served me faithfully since. Works great! It’s a quality pouch!


The pouch holds my tobacco securely so that nothing spills while I’m moving around taking my shots. I enjoy the aroma of the rubberized inner chamber; it smells of years of hard work and memories made and preserved.

That day my pipes were packed in a Maxpedition FR-1 Pouch . It’s a military-grade First Responders bag that holds 3 Pipes and the various accouterment I need for a good smoke. It keeps it all together quite well and offers minimal protection while I’m working. When I show the bag off to other pipe smokers, they are often surprised that it wasn’t designed to hold pipes. It honestly works that well.


I move around quite a bit, and sometimes I work in crime-ridden areas, so I don’t use a flashy bag that would draw the attention of a crook. It’s all about convenience, utility and blending in. The Maxpedition meets all of these qualities and is rugged as hell. I’ve had mine for over eight years, and it still looks like it did the day I bought it.

It’s nice because it has room for other things I may want to take along as well, including my notebook and pen, which are necessary if I plan to write articles like this very one you are reading.


It also connects well to other bags, such as this Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger

I like that I can combine the two bags because they both use the molle system, which lets you tether them together using plastic or nylon inserts.


In the tobacco pouch, I had packed a Seasonal Blend that I burn every Autumn, Straus Tobacconist’s Sleepy Hollow. I get it from my local Brick and Mortar Shop. It’s a Pumpkin Spice aromatic in ribbon cut that includes Black Cavendish, Burley, Cavendish, and Virginia tobaccos. (Keep an eye on the site for a full review.)

The sweet and spicy tones of the Cavendish mixed with the beautiful aroma of the topping and come together to make set the perfect stage for a memorable smoke. I filled my pipe while I was still in the car and lit up, because it was quite windy and cold outside.

I remember Rose commenting on how beautiful the tobacco smelled and how “cool” it was that I smoked it in a pipe. She had never seen anyone but me smoke a pipe, her only other connection to tobacco was through cigarettes.


We walked through the field where I wanted to begin our shoot. It was located on a large plot of land managed by a local Parish. I noted the beautiful skyline and forest, the way it all layered together and matched the horizontal layers on the sweater Rose was wearing. I puffed deep on the Sleepy Hollow and smiled.

Autumn in Layers.


I had a title and a direction to guide the shoot. Often my first order of business when designing a portfolio is to try and find what I call a through-line plot, or a direction that runs through everything from the model’s persona, to the clothes she’s wearing, to the surrounding environment. Today it came to me rather quickly. Why can’t it always be like that?


I finished my pipe and loaded another bowl. Rose and I went on to make an incredible portfolio for her work. We still keep in contact to this day and always, without fail, the first thing she asks me is what’s in my pipe.


All photos are the property of Justin Day at Photography By Day Studio. You can find more of my work here.

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One thought on “Smoking On the Clock (Pipe Smoking on the Job and Other Stories)

  1. Hello there!
    I discovered your blog on this second day of spring here in France. Cold air (-2°C) now on the early night, clear sky after two days of snow last weekend, and today celebrating back of the sun with a bowl of… Ashton Rainy Day, is it the so called French paradox? AHAHAH.
    Anyway, wandering on the web while smoking in front of an old manor lost in burgundy, I found your article, that I read delightfully, as I am 36 you, pipe smoker (casual, not a big one), and also photographer (amateur).
    I can say I love your blog, reviews, stories, anything is greatly written. I will share your blog on my forum (
    Will continue to read your articles and wait for upcoming others.
    Best regards from France, Champagne region, Troyes city,

    Liked by 1 person

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