By Cassandra Dowell
Trim, color, shape—those are just some of the elements of a cannabis bud that are captured in cannabis photography, which is growing in popularity as dispensaries ramp up their marketing efforts in a sea of increasing competition.
“We’ve had people call because they saw a picture [of a bud] and they were interested,” said the director of operations at San Diego-based Lucky Shamrock Cooperative, Inc., who asked that his name be withheld. The delivery-only medical marijuana dispensary works with a local specialized cannabis photographer to showcase its product.
“Trust with patients is really huge, so the pictures help a lot,” said the director of operations. “Marijuana is a lot like wine. You want to look at it, and it has to look nice. Photography is another way to display the product.”
Spend a few minutes on marijuana strain locator and dispensary finder site Weedmaps and a consumer will see over 200 dispensaries in the San Diego area, noted Erik Christiansen, president of San Diego-based Nugshots.
“Something that looks like it was put together in the garage” isn’t going to stand a chance against a photo that “brings to light what you can’t see with the naked eye—the trichome, the trimming job, the shape that tapers off as you get to the top,” Christiansen added.
Not only do high quality images inspire consumer confidence, but they also enhance credibility and create an atmosphere of professionalism, said Kim Sidwell, owner of Denver-based Cannabis Camera.
Since starting to specialize in cannabis photography in 2009, Sidwell has observed an increased demand for high-quality photos.
“As the industry continues to mature and customers begin to expect a more professional image from dispensaries, more and more of them are seeing the value in promoting their products with quality photographs,” she said, adding that those who are resistant to pay to put their product in front of the lens are sending the wrong message to consumers. “A potential customer sees poorly done images and whether they know it or not, assumes your product is poorly done as well.”
Professional photos get even more likes, shares and comments on social media channels, research shows. In fact, photos on Facebook business pages receive 53 percent more likes and attract 104 percent more comments than other posts, according to inbound marketing and sales software company HubSpot.
“Increased consumer interaction with your posts increases your overall page likes, website views and EdgeRank, Facebook’s visibility algorithm,” Sidwell said. “This leads to more visibility for your company and can lead to a significant increase in sales, especially if you’re utilizing other social media platforms to reach different audiences.”
And this is especially true in the cannabis industry.
“Everybody loves to see and share beautiful photos of gorgeous cannabis flowers, quality extracts, beautifully designed products and delicious edibles,” she said.
In addition to giving marijuana industry members’ social media efforts an edge, quality product photography can also improve a website, blog and other online and print advertising efforts.
“While the world is generally shifting from print to digital more and more every day, there is still profound value in having professional, high-resolution images for print marketing,” she said, adding that a good professional image can be used in a full-page magazine ad.
Dispensary owners can also get creative with professional photographs of their product by placing those images on promotional items, such as calendars, magnets, stickers and more.
As the number of medical and recreational marijuana permits being issued continues to climb, dispensary owners are faced with increasing competition from others eager to have a foothold in the emerging multibillion-dollar industry. High quality photos are one way owners can gain consumers’ trust and showcase the unique properties of their plants—the details that set them apart from the rest.