Blazing a New Trail

By Simon Herbert

Where confusion and opportunities arise, pioneers step in first to make sense from the haze; and Stock Pot Images is a new start-up that steps into that medicinal marijuana haze, the first stock photo agency to specialize exclusively in cannabis-related imagery. At a time when the Feds and the States vie over the application of the letter of the law, sporadic legalization is nevertheless occurring at a breathtaking pace, this seems like a different world from only a few years ago. Remember that old saw from the ’80s (and probably the ’70s, and the ’60s…), when stoners would sit around and nod knowingly, talking about how big tobacco companies had already copyrighted their own marijuana brand names? Well, there’s probably some truth in that, but the future seems more about a diverse mass acceptance of cannabis in our lives across multiple outlets and markets… and Stock Pot Images wants to be there first. With the good stuff…

© Josh Fogel/StockPot Images
© Josh Fogel/StockPot Images

Stock Pot Images feature rights-managed and royalty-free photography and illustration. According to them, their “selection reaches far beyond the small number of stereotypical images currently offered by major stock agencies,” and even a cursory tour through their portfolio shows an astonishing array of creative photography. In some cases, it’s the plant itself, and we see macro photography of buds, glistening with resin, strange otherworldly buds writ large, fecund and entrancing. Other images show the process of growing, of the hot houses and UV lights and mass production set ups. Other user-friendly images posit a “Martha Stewart” world in which, one day, we will all be turning up on each other’s doorsteps with delightful leaf-shaped THC cookies.

© AJ Rose/StockPot Images
© Alicia J Rose/StockPot Images

Founder Ophelia Chong and partner Alicia J. Rose (who between them have a daunting resume of photographic activity, ranging from marketing, designing, education and management) smile wryly when acknowledging that they are trying to introduce some new iconic tropes that might just take the new women-friendly, medical-friendly, national dynamic way beyond the snide national media footnotes.

What remains paramount to these images is a desire to service an industry, and a culture, that is still finding its feet under new circumstances. Stock Pot Images curates from a select group of up and coming photographers, to create the content that will fit the needs of the burgeoning cannabis industries.

Stock Pot Images targets healthcare, ad and branding agencies, as well as corporate and emerging industries that will need cannabis images to service a new market of users.

When asked, Chong indicates that they plan to be the agency art buyers come to first.

1) Stock Pot Images aims to go beyond “stereotypical” pot-related stock imagery. As a creative, can you indicate the new aesthetic that you’re searching for, from artists and photographers?

In the last 3 months, I’ve looked at more cannabis photographs than I have ever done in my entire life, however from what I have seen, I have already seen what’s available if I never was in this business. It’s the same bud shot, the same glowing leaf, or the same Gen X on a couch with a bong and a cat. There are so many creative cannabis photographers out there, and I’ve been finding them or they have found me, now there is an outlet for them to show their work and make some money from it. My mantra to the contributors is this: Kinfolk + Dwell + Martha Stewart + Nat Geo + Cannabis = Stock Pot Images.

From my roster, the majority are professional photographers and illustrators, the minority is learning the ropes of stock photography and all are creating spectacular work. The look and feel I suggest to Stock Pot’s contributors is first, be true to your own style, secondly, and don’t shoot stereotypes. I am looking for the clean, professional curated images, I want to move cannabis imagery away from the “half-dressed female in a tiny nurse’s outfit” to images of real cannabis users, the same person you pass by everyday, real people.

2) Stock Pot Images’ inventory seems to reflect a refreshing new diversity of images, and the healing aspects of the pot trade; but will the collection expand to balance the ambassadorial/medicinal side of the trade with a little recreational stoner humor, or would that ‘damage’ your brand?     

I am encouraging humor in the images: we have a stuffed big mouth bass with a joint; we have martini glasses with weed ice; we have people making cookies and smiling, not all droll and serious. Although we do have serious, dark moody imagery as well…

One series we will be shooting later in May is a spoof on the royalty free image of the “doctor” with a jar of buds. 

Cannabis users on the whole are a funny, laid-back, proactive, close knit, creative group; they have had to run in-between changing lines of the law. It’s like hopscotch made from chalk lines… you just never know when one line will be erased or changed…

© Davids/StockPot Images
© Davids/StockPot Images

You can find Stock Pot Images at: http://www.stockpotimages.com

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