Bring Your Brand to Life with Cannabis PhotographyWe cover everything you need to know about professional cannabis photography - and why it’s an absolute must for any cannabusiness.
In marketing, the old saying holds true: a picture is worth a thousand words. Humans respond to visual stimuli – and an evocative photo is a far more powerful storytelling tool than a wall of even the most eloquent text could ever be. In this article, we’ll cover cannabis photography, and how it can elevate absolutely any cannabis brand – plus, our guide to the best photographers serving the cannabis and CBD industries.
Why Professional Cannabis Photography is Essential
First impressions are crucial for any brand trying to stand out, and this is doubly true in the highly competitive nascent legal cannabis industry. High-quality images can truly make the difference between your brand coming across as legitimate, trustworthy, and high-caliber versus cheaply thrown together and fly-by-night. Even if the luxury market isn’t your target, don’t underestimate the necessity of high-quality marketing photos.
Not only do pictures tell a story about your brand and what you have to offer, but they also give novice cannabis consumers (and those who like planning ahead) clear expectations about your products or location. Pictures are an instantaneous way to catch and keep people’s attention. Great photos can even inspire other senses (such as smell, taste, and texture) to come alive in the viewer’s imagination, piquing a craving that they’ll associate with your product.
Where is Cannabis Marketing Photography Used?
The most common placement of cannabis and CBD marketing photos is on your company website. But other placements to consider include social media, blog posts, printed brochures or flyers, in-store signage, magazine spreads, and billboards. Photos can be especially helpful for brands trying to build a social media presence. Many popular social networks disallow cannabis-related text, making photographs an excellent storytelling tool that won’t break the rules and get your account banned.
Who Should Hire a Cannabis Photographer?
Virtually every single cannabis and CBD business out there can benefit from hiring a professional cannabis photographer, including:
- Any cannabis, hemp, CBD, or ancillary business with a website and/or social media presence
- Any company that produces, manufactures, distributes, or retails its own cannabis products
- Dispensaries, cannabis tour buses, and other businesses with a physical location that potential customers or clients may visit
- Cannabis lifestyle bloggers, podcasters, and influencers
Types of Cannabis Photography
- Product Photography – High-quality cannabis product photography is crucial. This can include still-life or 360-degree images of products or packaging and macro photography of cannabis buds.
- Lifestyle Photography – Lifestyle photos reflect your brand’s image and company culture, including the types of customers you want to appeal to or the iconic scenery of your location.
- Business Photography – In a similar fashion to lifestyle photography, business photography is a great way to showcase your facility or your staff in action. Dispensary photos can ease the nerves of cannabis novices. Likewise, if you have staff that customers or clients will be interacting with on-site, photos can humanize your brand, building comfort and rapport before they even set foot on your premises.
- Headshots – Headshots are another great way to build consumer credibility, showcasing the founder, CEO, and other notable people behind your brand.
- Stock Photography – Stock photography is a less-expensive source of ready-made photo content. While many cannabis photographers offer beautiful stock photographs, it’s important to remember that these images can also be purchased and used by multiple other companies and organizations. Whenever possible, it’s better to opt for original photos to set your brand and products apart. However, stock photos do have their place, and can be a terrific and inexpensive accompaniment to blog posts or used as podcast covers.
Video content is another highly-effective way to get your customers’ attention and evoke positive feelings about your brand. Many professional cannabis photographers and marijuana marketing firms also offer videography services. Here are some of the most effective ways for cannabusinesses to utilize video marketing.
- Landing Page Videos – These videos are prominently placed on a website’s homepage, greeting visitors with information about your company’s values, mission, and products or services.
- Social Media Content – If your company maintains a presence on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or any other video-heavy social networks, high-quality produced video content is a must.
- Customer Testimonials – Customer testimonial videos create an atmosphere of trust for potential new customers as they research your product or service.
- Event Coverage – Whether you’re hosting, vending, or sponsoring events, a well-produced video highlight reel is a superb way to show your customers what you’ve been up to and increase your brand’s clout.
- Educational Videos – Whether you share them on a YouTube channel, embedded within blog posts, or on your website’s “Resources” page, educational videos can go a long way in helping curious or trepidatious potential new customers feel at ease. Especially in the still oft-misunderstood cannabis and CBD industries, professionally produced cannabis educational videos can go a long way.
- Premises Tours – Another great way to build new customers’ comfort is a video premises tour. Whether you’re a cannabis grower, testing lab, or dispensary, a premises tour is a fun behind-the-scenes way to show visitors what your company’s made of.
Benefits of Using a Professional Cannabis Photographer
Despite recent advancements in smartphone cameras, there is truly no comparison when it comes to photos taken with high-grade equipment. In addition to DSLR cameras that capture crisp, vibrant, grain-free, high-definition images, professional photographers also have access to an arsenal of tools including tripods, lenses, lights, filters, reflectors, and backdrops that can dramatically increase the quality of an image. Some photographers even utilize drones, which can be especially useful for location shots.
Perhaps the greatest value of a professional photographer lies in composition expertise. Setting up the perfect shot is a far more intricate process than most may realize. From framing and angling the subject to creating the right lighting and contrast, professional photographers know what works (and what doesn’t) to create beautiful, engaging, eye-catching images.
Even the most beautifully-shot photos require a little extra finesse to look their best. Professional editing is what turns great images into truly outstanding ones, and it’s another critical reason to enlist a professional cannabis photographer instead of attempting to DIY your photos.
Location, Prop, and Model Sourcing
An often overlooked aspect of marijuana photography is the sourcing of models, props, or even locations. Most professional photographers have a network of working models and favored shooting locations and can help you get the exact look you’re going for. Some cannabis photographers also shoot in a studio, which is ideal for product photos or headshots. Sometimes achieving the right vibe (particularly for cannabis lifestyle photography) might include sourcing additional props, such as outdoor gear (bicycles, skateboards, picnic baskets), luxe accessories, or whatever else fits the image of your target market.
Furnishing your website, creating initial marketing materials, and getting pictures of your entire product catalog and staff headshots is a huge but necessary undertaking for a new (or rebranding) company. But photography generally shouldn’t be considered a “one and done” expense. While you certainly don’t have to redo your entire website spread every season, there will be occasions when updates are necessary, such as launching new products, renovating or opening new locations, and attending or hosting special events.
If your company maintains a social media presence or a blog, having a steady stream of interesting, relevant photos on hand is essential. Many cannabis photographers offer a retainer or subscription option, keeping themselves on call within specified parameters, and creating high-quality, on-brand visual content any time you need it.
Finding the Right Cannabis Photographer for You
Here are the essentials to consider when shopping around for a cannabis photographer:
- Location – Naturally, your geographical location will affect the pool of cannabis photographers available to you. However, if your budget permits, a number of top cannabis photographers throughout the world are willing to travel to you.
- Price – Photography can get pricey, but you really do get what you pay for and high-quality images are well worth the expense. Images are perhaps the most powerful marketing tool you have access to and can make the biggest lasting impression. Consider exactly what you need photos of and how much you can build into your budget for startup and ongoing photography services.
- Field of Expertise – In the cannabis and CBD fields, working with photographers who understand the industry is crucial. From appealing to current consumer tastes to taking macro shots of cannabis buds, you need a photographer with a deep understanding of the story your photos need to tell. From there, ensure that whomever you hire is well-versed in the specific photo types you need, be it product photos, facility tours, headshots, or lifestyle shots. Also consider whether you’d prefer to hire a photographer a la carte, or have photography and/or videography services bundled in with other services from a full-service cannabis marketing company.
- Style and Portfolio – Any professional photographer worth hiring will be happy to share their portfolio with you. Additionally, they may also provide references from business or event websites featuring their work. Browsing a photographer’s portfolio is an excellent way to get a feel for their artistic style – and assess whether it’s a match for your vision.
- Reputation – A fantastic portfolio is only part of what makes a photographer worth working with. A reputation for being punctual, personable, dedicated to bringing clients’ individual visions to life, and getting photos back in a reasonable amount of time are all important considerations. Don’t be afraid to ask other local cannabusinesses for photographer recommendations. To aid your search, we’ve also included a list of the industry’s best cannabis, hemp, and CBD photographers, below.
The Best Cannabis Industry Photographers & Videographers
The Best Cannabis Photographers
A Pot Farmer’s Daughter
A Pot Farmer’s Daughter is a full-service creative agency dedicated to elevating all types of cannabis, CBD, and holistic wellness brands. Founded by Kristen Angelo, an extraordinarily skilled photographer with a compelling and highly personal connection to the cannabis industry, A Pot Farmer’s Daughter specializes in brand storytelling, through beautiful, engaging product and editorial photography, video shorts, stop-motion, and on-site as well as in-studio content creation. They also offer access to a collection of gorgeous ready-made stock photos. Kristen’s work has been featured in numerous books and prestigious cannabis magazines. A Pot Farmer’s Daughter is based in Washington state and available for projects worldwide.
KindTyme is a full-service branding agency, completely dedicated to serving the cannabis industry. KindTyme’s award-winning, completely customized, individualized approach to cannabis marketing includes product, lifestyle, and business photography services, access to beautiful stock photos, and a full suite of branding, digital marketing, and design services including animation, picture-perfect 360-degree product shots, and more. KindTyme is based in Portland, Oregon, and works with marijuana companies throughout the US.
High Rise Agency
High Rise is a full-service marketing agency completely dedicated to the cannabis industry. Since its start in 2018, High Rise has served over 500 brands, rising to become one of the world’s foremost cannabis media and marketing agencies. Alongside stunning photo and video content, High Rise also specializes in branding, events, and strategy. They have created imagery for some of the world’s top cannabis companies, including lifestyle, product, facility, macro, and menu photos. The agency also runs High Rise TV, one of the world’s first, and now biggest and most popular cannabis content platforms. High Rise Agency is located in Los Angeles, and frequently hosts events there in partnership with Green Street.
Photography by Jinnifer Douglass
Jinnifer Douglass is a full-time freelance NYC-based photographer passionate about the craft. Her photo-journalistic approach lends itself to images with an authentic, natural, and always intriguing feel. Jinnifer’s range spans everything from personal portraits and branding for small companies all the way up to the likes of Google and Uber. Jinnifer now also brings her skills in product, portrait, lifestyle, and event photography to New York’s newly legalized cannabis industry. She offers affordable on-location photo packages with quick turnaround times and beautiful, personally-edited digital photos. Jinnifer also offers the option to shoot on 35mm film. Jinnifer shoots on location throughout the metro NYC area with the potential to travel for the right project.
Oniracom is an innovative creative services agency delivering fine-tuned marketing that creates lasting impressions and profitable results – fueled by its signature data-driven Actionable Intelligence approach. Since 2001, Oniracom has proven itself a true expert in international and local brand strategy, content production, and web development and has worked with many of the industry’s top cannabis and ancillary businesses. Strikingly beautiful, evocative photography is part of Oniracom’s superb branding offerings, with a retainer option available for a consistent stream of precisely targeted, engaging content. Oniracom is based in Santa Barbara, California, with a production studio and event space at LoDo Studios.
Located in the Canadian Cannabis mecca – Kelowna, British Columbia – the Sessions team of cannabis experts have the experience and know-how to show off cannabis products and companies. As cannabis connoisseurs and professional photographers, Sessions is uniquely qualified to capture stunning photos of all things cannabis. Their own in-house studio allows them to capture high-quality photos and video in a controlled environment perfect to showcase live and dried flower, concentrates, equipment and packaging. The Sessions team also travels to their clients’ facilities with all the necessary gear to highlight their processes, people, and products.
Colorado Cannabis Photo
Frankie (aka @Fr33Water) is a Denver-based freelance photographer and cannabis community advocate who brings over a decade of experience – in Colorado’s cannabis industry as well as in professional photography – and a true artist’s touch to his work. Frankie’s Colorado Cannabis Photo studio has worked with many local and national cannabis, MMJ, and CBD brands, creating engaging, warmly-lit photos showcasing products in real-life scenarios, as well as lifestyle shots that reflect a brand’s authentic story. With a focus on retail and social media management, content creation, and product photography, Frankie’s team carefully curates every photo set, developing detailed shot lists and artistic inspiration boards, scouting ideal locations, sourcing models, and always delivering stunning images to elevate your brand.
Jacob Lewkow Photography
Jacob Lewkow is a talented, versatile photographer with an eye for crafting stunning cannabis images and portraits alike. Jacob brings his creative vision to elevating absolutely every aspect of his cannabis clients’ brands, from cultivation to the retail experience, as well as lifestyle shots, portraits, and beautiful product photos. With this goal in mind, cannabis brands that work with Jacob end up with a well-rounded collection of images perfectly suited to an over-arching campaign, instead of simple, limited-scope highlights. Jacob Lewkow Photography is located in Detriot, Michigan, and works with clients locally as well as globally.
Maryland Connoisseur is a dedicated cannabis and CBD photography and video studio serving both national and local brands. Founder Greg Malcolm (who is also lead photographer for Maryland Leaf Magazine and an experienced marketing expert) was inspired to create this studio to share his branding, photography, and videography skills with Maryland’s newly-minted legal cannabis market. Specializing in product photography, creative portraits, and commercial video production, Greg’s work for Maryland Connoisseur is bold, edgy, and always attention-grabbing – creating an instant sense of intrigue for the story behind the image. Maryland Connoisseur operates out of a fully-outfitted studio in downtown Baltimore.
Big Sun Cannabis Photography
Big Sun Cannabis Photography has worked closely with Colorado’s cannabis and CBD markets from the beginning – even capturing the state’s very first legal cannabis purchase. Big Sun has extensive experience creating compelling images for cannabis growers and refiners, as well as product, lifestyle, and event and trade show photography. Big Sun brings its client-focused touch to on-location projects, studio product photography, creating standout marketing images to enhance your presence at festivals and trade shows, and more, with access to models, stylists, and other important players. Big Sun Cannabis Photography is based in Montrose, Colorado, and services locations throughout most of the state.
One27 Media House
One27 Media House is a cannabis-friendly digital creative studio specializing in web design, branding design, and gorgeous photo and video content for personal brands and businesses alike. One27’s visual services include portraits, lifestyle, and product photography, as well as beautiful, evocative videography. Their branding and visual packages are the perfect way to set your business up with all the essential content you need, while content subscriptions deliver an ongoing stream of photo, video, and social media content to keep your brand consistently on your customers’ radar. One27 Media House is a two-person creative team based in Portland, Oregon, serving clients locally as well as on-location and remotely around the world.
Ella Sophie is a commercial photographer based in the San Francisco area. Ella’s images have a bold and powerful aesthetic, with a detail-oriented focus on how light, form, and texture work together. Ella has a deep understanding of the CBD and Cannabis industry and her services include art direction, photography, and moving images. If you are looking for compelling images to elevate your cannabis or CBD brand, Ella Sophie is the ideal photographer for you.
The Best CBD Photographers
C&I Photography’s innovative and passionate team of marketing and in-house creative professionals is dedicated to bringing your brand’s vision to life. With creative CBD marketing, branding strategy, video production, photography, and so much more, C&I is dedicated to telling your brand’s story in a compelling way that makes people take notice. C&I Photography has offices in Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, with professionals available to travel anywhere in the world. C&I’s home film studios are located in Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, with models, actors, stylists, props, state-of-the-art equipment, and crew at the ready for your project.
Angie & Co.
Angie & Co is a freelance full-service branding agency, founded in 2016 and built on a passion for photography and design. In addition to graphic, logo, and web design, Angie & Co delivers stunningly beautiful photographs to tell your brand’s story. Angie & Co’s impressive range of experience includes CBD product photography as well as headshots, facility, and other branding photography. The agency’s founder and headwoman, Angie, is personally based in Atlanta, Georgia, with a branding team presence in multiple cities across the US.
Vision Balm’s founder, Michelle Fiorello, has a true talent for bringing a brand’s unique story to life through warm, vibrant, colorful images that evoke a sense of joy, class, and down-to-earth relatability. Vision Balm offers standout in-studio CBD product photography suitable for any retail platform, as well as full-service branding photography to capture the essence of your brand in a memorable way. Vision Balm’s branding photography services include expertly organized half-day branding photo sessions, complete with full creative direction (including references for hair, makeup, props, and more), and quick turnaround time. Vision Balm is based in Charleston, South Carolina.
Yi-Chen Chiang is a Hawaii-based freelance photographer specializing in commercial product and lifestyle photos. Through the use of custom lighting, expert composition, and creative storytelling, Yi-Chen creates gorgeous, inviting photographs with a highly-professional touch. Her areas of expertise include crisp, beautiful e-commerce and catalog pictures that let your product shine, lifestyle images that bring your brand’s story to life, and even fun, eye-catching moving pictures to make your website more interesting. Yi-Chen’s studio is located in Honolulu, Hawaii, and her portfolio includes beautiful work for CBD brands.
The Best Cannabis Videographers
Sparkhouse is an award-winning video production company known for adventurous, innovative videos that are not only entertaining but highly effective! With over 20 years of experience and over 10K videos under its belt, Sparkhouse is cannabusiness-friendly and works with small start-ups all the way up to Fortune 500 companies. Sparkhouse can bring your brand’s story, mission, and vision to life via any type of video, from product videos, brand videos, and social media videos to animations, training and educational videos, and more. Sparkhouse is based in Costa Mesa, California, and works with clients throughout the world.