Creating and Leveraging Quality Cannabis Photography 

cannabis Photography in marijuana field Field Canna Obscura
Photo: Canna Obscura / Shutterstock

Imagery is one of our most compelling visual marketing tools, it’s a powerful mechanism to influence people instantly. But without the right photography, businesses struggle to showcase important aspects of their products and brand to the public.

Professional, beautiful, and clean photography leaves positive impressions on potential customers and encourages community members, whether they use cannabis or not, to view the industry more favorably. Cannabis plants and processed buds photographed with their packaging or brand image can illustrate the beauty of the strain and reinforce the customer’s connection between high-quality flower and a chosen brand.


Photography can also create a sense of community through familiarity, which is important for both marketing purposes and destigmatization. Lifestyle images and stylized product photos in which customers can see their interests reflected create important connections between the brand and the consumer. Despite the restrictions of social media, photographers and creatives have been hard at work in the cannabis industry, redefining popular depictions of cannabis to align with the current state of cannabis culture.

Cannabis Photography Tutorial: Key Elements to a Shoot

Producing high-quality flower photography may seem overwhelming to anyone without experience in cannabis marketing or media production, but success is possible with the right knowledge. Whether a brand is shooting with professional equipment or an iPhone, there are steps everyone can take to produce effective and stunning images that delight potential customers.

Different shooting conditions call for different approaches, but ultimately, cannabis photography is about trial and error. With a few key tools, both professionals and amateurs have the power to produce the content they need to showcase the products they’ve crafted carefully for months.

Getting the proper lighting

Cannabis photography should showcase the dynamic and intricate elements of the bud, depicting it as honestly as possible. Cultivators work tirelessly to preserve the stunning terpenes and trichomes that make buds so beautiful, and it is the photographer’s job to capture those features with key light elements. Lighting can make or break a photo shoot, so it is vital to consider the light sources and conditions when preparing to photograph cannabis.

If a cultivator wants to showcase its outdoor crops before they are harvested in natural light, a photographer with a DSLR camera should bring various filters for lenses since outdoor lighting is typically very bright. Photographers can gain control of the light exposure in their images by adjusting the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

1 quarter ounce of marijuana or 5 cannabis buds
Photo: Wonderbrett

To shoot indoors, whether a company is using a DSLR camera or a simple phone camera, it will be helpful to obtain a basic dome light and a few LED panel lights. Creating as much brightness in a space as possible will result in more honest and vivid photos. Shooting in a grow room is a unique and challenging setting, but a blue-tinted lens filter can neutralize the effects of harsh grow lights and produce crisp and saturated images of live plants.

Finding the right camera lens

The best cameras for cannabis photography are DSLR cameras, but the right lens and depth of field can make a big difference. DSLR cameras offer a variety of benefits over a phone camera; they allow for lens changes, more setting adjustments, and greater technical flexibility.

Beautiful Pink Cannabis Flower macro cannabis photography example
Photo: Canna Obscura / Shutterstock

Many cannabis photographers use a macro lens ranging from 35 to 85 millimeters and zoom lenses that range from 70 to 200 millimeters for macro cannabis photography or macro shots. The right lens can completely transform the images a camera produces, and it is important to experiment with lenses to find the best equipment for each unique shoot.

For businesses marketing on a tight budget, it is also possible to take high-quality cannabis photography with a phone camera. Even with the best lenses and lighting setups, cameras struggle to capture every element of the plant and images require editing to highlight those elements. For those approaching cannabis photography with a phone camera, lighting is essential and editing is extremely useful.

Giving the proper presentation

With heavy restrictions on cannabis images, it can be difficult for brands to visually market their products on social media. However, strategic branding and product displays can help cannabis companies build recognition with customers. When the bud is one of many elements of an image, it is often more permissible on social media platforms. While it may seem meticulous and complicated to create branded photography that doesn’t center the bud, brands cannot afford to avoid social media.

Afterdream-Cannabis infused spirits
Photo: Afterdream

There are a variety of photography styles that companies need to create a holistic brand identity.

For product images that will be used on POS systems and websites, it is important to accentuate the true tones of the flower so customers see an accurate depiction of the product that they intend to purchase. Lifestyle pieces can be displayed in dispensary spaces to enhance brand identity and demonstrate the type of culture the retailer is fostering.

The images customers see online should be cohesive with the images they see in the store. Buds of the same strain should appear consistent in all images and product packaging should be familiar to consumers. With strategic and thoughtful photography, companies can shape their brand identities in their own vision.

Dedication to the craft

Before a business can take high-quality photos of its product, it must cultivate a high-quality product. Cannabis flower with full trichome profiles has the variance in hues and the crystally appearance that customers look for when choosing a strain. During a photoshoot, no matter the subject, it is always helpful to take a large number of photos at a variety of angles.

one gram or nug of cannabis flower alone on a white background
Photo: Wonderbrett

Sometimes shooting a one-gram nug can take an entire hour, but that may be the length of time it takes to get the perfect shot. Photography is a creative pursuit and there are endless ways to take photos. Each photo shoot and each subject is unique, and dedication is key to successful photography. Anyone can craft the perfect cannabis image with enough time and knowledge.

Editing Software

Even the most skilled photographers use editing software in post-production to refine and perfect their photography. Editing software like Adobe Suite gives creators the opportunity to draw out the visibility of natural highlights, textures, and colors in the plant. There are numerous photo editing software platforms available, but Adobe is by far the most popular among professionals.

For those shooting on a phone or looking to edit on a mobile device, Adobe offers mobile app versions of their editing software. With Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, creators can refine the brightness, clarity, continuity, and saturation of an image. After editing, cannabis brands can confidently share their professional and visually striking photography with the public and differentiate themselves from the competition.