Cannabis and photography might not seem like two things that go together: most of us don’t take selfies with our bongs since potential employers know how to Google. But, if you own a marijuana business, product photos are an important aspect of a good marketing plan. In an industry where the competition is fierce, companies must do all they can to stand out. So, say Cheese (or Blue Cheese or Royal Cheese) and consider these ecommerce tips:

Product Photography 101

Get a good camera: Yes, your phone is also a camera, but it can’t compete with a professional camera. A good digital camera is a smart investment: you don’t need to buy something that turns you into Ansel Adams, but find something that helps you take pictures that are as crisp as possible. If you’re on a budget, your iPhone may make a reasonable substitute – there are apps available that improve a picture’s vibrancy – but once your throw in the flash, the iPhone’s photo credibility starts to blur.

Perfect the lighting: Lighting is an important element to photography and one that varies: you’ll likely take a picture of buds under different lighting than you would edibles. And those will differ too: hard candies require different lighting than a marijuana infused fettucine alfredo. You can use natural light (i.e., the sun) or find your own kit (such as the Elinchrom D-lite 4).

Whatever kit you buy, get one that operates in continuous mode, rather than merely providing a flash

Buy a tripod: Even if you have a hand so steady you could be a brain surgeon, taking photos without a tripod often results in blurred images. Plus, the more photos you take, the shakier your hand becomes.

Use a neutral background: Depending on what you’re shooting, you may want a background that has pizzazz. But, most of the time, the best thing you can do is keep it basic: white or grey. It’s simple to achieve (use craft paper) and providesPhoto_Practices, Photography a professional look. If it fits what you want to spend (or you’re going to be taking a lot of inventory shots) consider purchasing a tabletop studio. They run about three or four hundred dollars.

Use a wide aperture: They say that the camera adds five pounds: when you’re photographing ganja, this is a good thing! A wide aperture also provides better depth and a richer look.

Ditch the shadows: Shadows will ruin a good photo as fast as a drawn-on mustache and devil horns. To avoid them, keep your lighting on the same side of the object as your camera.

Make sure your product is clean: If you’re taking pictures of your new line of bongs, dust, fingerprints, and the like will leave consumers wanting to go elsewhere. Thus, make sure your products look their best before they head off to get their proverbial Sears portrait.

The Importance of Good Photography

Product photos are time-consuming, occasionally expensive, and, if you don’t fancy yourself the creative type, something you might not love to do. But they’re necessary.

There are many ways pics can make you click with your customers, including:

They show what you offer: Cannabis photography is a bit different from other types of products. This is because most consumers can’t order cannabis on the internet and have it shipped to their homes. Still, good images entice your customers enough to make them want to visit your shop. If you offer innovative products, things that people might not know of yet, pictures help offer clarity. Remember, they’re worth a thousand words.

They’re conducive to social media: Social media is a major aspect of marketing: companies that engage with their customers online are not only more likely to find more customers, but they’re also more likely to keep their customers from going elsewhere.

Photos are a mainstay of sites like Instagram and provide a prime opportunity to show your “friends” and “followers” your quality product

They tap into the senses: Saying that you sell some of the best tasting edibles on the market isn’t enough: customers want to see for themselves. Photos of infused brownies and breads, coffees and ice cream, tap into the senses much more than mere words. Post photos so awesome your customers lick their computer screens.

They let people know what to expect: Not everyone is well-versed in cannabis; some people have never consumed it, others haven’t touched a joint since that one time in college when their RA was locked inside the janitor’s closet. Rule_of_Thirds, PhotogrpahyThis makes going into pot shops and dispensaries nerve-wracking; people don’t know what they’re in for. Pictures don’t assuage this hesitation completely – looking at an image of CBD oil won’t suddenly make someone an expert – but they do put a face to a name, so to speak. If someone has never heard of dabs, for instance, a picture helps them understand the product and preps them for what they’ll experience upon setting foot inside a dispensary.

Get Ahead of the Competition

Odds are your competition is already using product photography (since pretty much everyone is using it). Thus, if you’re the only pot shop or cannabis business without a visual presence, people may jump to conclusions. Perhaps they’ll assume you’re hiding something – an inferior product, moldy edibles, shatter that’s shattered – and that will steer them away from your service.

Photography helps do the opposite: it draws customers in. Yet, if your photos are inferior – if they don’t do your product justice or are thrown together in a manner that’s unprofessional – your image (literally and figuratively) can suffer. Hence, investing in the proper equipment is usually required. If pictures are simply not your thing, there are several companies who specialize in cannabis photography (yes, that’s a thing). Some even use macro photography, which truly captures the beauty of cannabis. If you want your pictures to really stand out from the competition, it’s may be a road worth exploring.

Jenn Keeler

About the author: Jenn Keeler is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in humorous lifestyle articles. She is one of the few people on earth actually using an English degree. Her heart belongs to the Denver Broncos and her husband. In that order.