(Last Updated On: May 16, 2022)
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As a photographer, you may dream of traveling the world for location shoots, having your work appear in editorials, and being the creative behind huge marketing brands. You may think that such dreams would never transpire if you worked in the cannabis industry, but this is far from true. Cannabis brands are transforming the sector and luring even skeptics into buying their range of products. The industry is booming, and as a photographer, you have a new path that can lead you to reach your wildest dreams and beyond. 

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Why is the cannabis industry booming? 

The days of buying a joint in a shady alley are over. Today, cannabis products are easier and safer to buy because many countries have legalized CBD. The latter is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant species, and it is legal because hemp-derived CBD with less than 0.3 percent THC cannot make you high.  

As a result, brands infuse CBD into everything from edibles to capsules, oil, and skincare products. Early research on CBD indicates this cannabinoid’s potential to treat various physical and mental challenges, from arthritis pain to anxiety, infertility, and skin issues. People use CBD to treat insomnia, potentially slow down the onset of diseases like cancer and Alzheimers and deal with various other health issues. 

Besides helping humans lead a serener and more manageable life, CBD gives climate crises hope. The cannabis industry offers a new generation of sustainable clothing and material thanks to hemp to make clothes and building materials better for the planet. From dresses to sofas, construction materials, and luxury cars, many companies are opting for hemp’s sustainable material options to avoid the continual degeneration of the planet. It is no wonder that Forbes magazine claimed back in 2017 that the cannabis industry would offer Americans more jobs than the manufacturing industry by the year 2020.  

How the cannabis industry can propel your career as a photographer 

As a photographer working in this industry, your career options will go beyond working in a Cannabis photography studio unless that is what you want to do. Start-up brands are looking for photographers who can work on displaying their products in various forms of media, from print to digital, not to mention social media. More than a photographer, you could become the go-to strategic person for cannabis companies and build their brand from the ground up.  

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Cannabis brands are looking for photographers with different shooting abilities. It is up to you to determine whether you prefer to excel in a niche or be more flexible in your work. Some brands require portrait photographers who can shoot the people behind the products to help them connect with clients. Many brands are always on the lookout for lifestyle photographers who can shoot captivating images of their products so that the images speak to the target audience. These photos are often used on social media, with Instagram being the priority because it is image-based and still highly popular. Many social media influencers catch a brand’s attention through their posts featuring their products. This has often led to collaborations between photographers and brands.   

Cannabis brands also prioritize top-of-the-notch macro photographers and commercial photographers who can capture different strains in images for web and social media. Some also hire real estate photographers to shoot dispensaries. As the cannabis industry continues to boom, more opportunities will also be available. You can work as a fashion photographer for cannabis brands that create sustainable fashion or shoot for luxury car brands that use hemp to create sustainable luxury. Photojournalism is also a creative niche you can focus on, as is documentary photography with expertise in food photography and still life.  

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Patience and finding the right brand 

If you are in the early stages of your career as a photographer, you must practice patience. It will take time, experience, and focus on your career goals to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. You can start by finding a brand that you like. Although billion-dollar cannabis brands have made their mark on the market, start-up brands are also beginning their journey.  

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Start-up brands will not pay as well as established brands. However, this could be our opportunity to gain experience and grow together with the brand. You may be the one to execute brand visions for the company and become the go-to creative. It may take time, but everything is worth pursuing.  

If you prefer to work as a freelance photographer for cannabis brands, consider working on your social media and online presence first. Take as many jobs as possible and have an extensive portfolio with your best work. Don’t just shoot anything. Photograph what you want to be hired for. If you are interested in portraits, make sure your portfolio shows excellent examples of your skills.  

Written by Kathy Cooley