Effective ways to produce quality photos

Effective ways to produce high quality cannabis photos

Taking High Quality Photos of Cannabis With a smartphone or lower basic DSLR camera

Cannabis strain, Gelato. Flowering Stage.
Gelato, flowering stage. Grown by Yuma Way LLC.

For newly founded cannabis brands it can be difficult capturing high quality photos without a big production budget. So how can smaller marijuana brands compete with more well established companies? This guide will provide effective ways for brands to produce high quality photos with any smartphone or DSLR

Cannabis strain Member Berry on week nine of its vegetative stage.
Member Berry, vegetative stage. Grown by Yuma Way LLC.

 No matter what camera equipment you’re using, taking professional level photography in 2020 is easier than ever. Utilizing high quality photos of products, accompanied with meaningful information can significantly improve any brands reputation online.

Effective ways to produce quality cannabis photos

Understanding composition is key to capturing high quality photos. If you’re struggling with ideas on how to capture live plants, products or landscapes, don’t be afraid to gather inspiration from social media. The three biggest composition techniques to understand are formal balance, depth of field and the rule of thirds.

Cannabis strain Gelato on week nine of its vegetative stage.
Gelato, flowering stage. Grown by Yuma Way LLC.

Formal Balance

Also called symmetrical balance, is a concept of aesthetic composition involving equal weight and importance on both sides of a composition. Below are some examples of photos that have strong formal balance. 

This photo of flowering Gelato exemplifies formal balance.
This photo of flowering Gelato (our subject) exemplifies formal balance. Notice the subject is centered and maintains a consistent background. It also maintains equal focus throughout the photo which will be covered in the Depth of Field section of the guide. Grown by Yuma Way LLC.

Depth of Field 

Depth of field is the distance between the closest and farthest objects in a photo that appears acceptably sharp. Depending on your equipment, you may be able to adjust focus options on your smartphone camera or manipulate the aperture (commonly known as an F-stop) and focus ring on your DSLR camera.

Cannabis strain Lemon Zkittles dried and cured bud.
This photograph of cured flower (Lemon Zkittles) exemplifies strong depth of field. The subject itself is in focus and shows a high amount of detail while the background remains unfocused creating a Bokeh background.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a “rule of thumb” or a guideline that proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

The Denver skyline at sunset
This photo of the Denver skyline exemplifies that composing your photo using the rule of thirds creates a stronger visual.

Smartphone Cameras

Smartphone cameras have come along way in the last five years, and most smartphones today have the ability to capture photos that compete with photos captured on lower end DSLR’s. Remember a lot of these cameras have focus options by just tapping on the subject within your frame.

With most smartphones have the ability to utilize third-party apps that will give you more ISO, shutter speed and aperture options. If you have a new smartphone, be mindful of keeping the lens covered by some sort of protective case to reduce scratches. I recently experienced this while shooting photos at our Cherry Peak Dispensary. The photo shoot focused on a newly available cannabis strain Cherry Hills, an indica dominant hybrid grown by Veritas Fine Cannabis.

Cannabis strain Cherry Hill grown by Veritas Fine Cannabis.
This photo of Cherry Hills cannabis strain grown by Veritas Fine Cannabis was taken on an iPhone 6 Plus.

DSLR Settings

If you have access to a DSLR camera these few tips will significantly increase the quality of your photos. If your shooting live plants inside a grow with HPS (High Pressured Sodium) Light, adjusting your white balance to the “Tungsten Light” setting will get rid of that yellow tint the sensor is recording. Another more advanced option is to set a custom white balance in your cameras manual settings. This will generate the most accurate temperature in variable conditions, including HPS Light.

Photo of cannabis strain White Walker Kush. Taken without any white balance adjustment.
Photo taken without white balance adjustment. Strain: White Walker Kush, grown by Yuma Way LLC.
Photo of cannabis strain White Walker Kush. Taken without any white balance adjustment.
Photo taken with white balance adjustment. Strain: White Walker Kush, grown by Yuma Way LLC

Consistent High Quality Product Shots

When shooting cured flower or products it helps to use a tripod and intervalometer to reduce camera shake. Having a consistent light source and product position will increase the quality of your photos.

DIY, at home cannabis photography studio. Camera set on tripod, aimed at marijuana positioned on a white backdrop.
DIY at home photography studio for product shots.
Cannabis Strain Blackwater. Grown by Yuma Way LLC.
Blackwater. Grown by Yuma Way LLC.
A screenshot of Yuma Way's Instagram profile from featuring the Gushers Cannabis strain photo positioned on a white background.
An example of simple and sharable micro-content from just one high quality photo. Strain: Gushers.

Maintaining a consistent presence on social media is crucial to any business in today’s market, especially within the marijuana industry. Cannabis in all forms is very photogenic and is easy to capture if you follow these easy steps for Effective ways to produce quality cannabis photos.

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