Why Specialist Photography Is Critical For Successful Cannabis Marketing

Featuring Risa Knight – Lead Photography Specialist

Everyone’s heard the mantra: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is truer than ever in today’s fast-paced world of digital consumerism. Especially so when marketing cannabis products and services to a new recreational market.

Once an afterthought for enterprising entrepreneurs that settled for grainy, do-it-yourself cellphone camera pictures, specialist photography has become an absolute necessity in today’s competitive market.

This week we got a chance to catch up with our lead photographer, Risa Knight, and sit down for an exclusive interview to talk all things photography and cannabis marketing. Risa has over 10 years of photography experience and continues to push the frontiers of digital marketing for cannabis by producing beautiful shots and images for cannabis dispensaries and lifestyle brands.

In our conversation we explore:

  • What specialist photography is
  • Why it’s important
  • The current state of photography within the wider industry
  • What consumers look for in cannabis photography
  • How CCM’s photography department exceeds client’s expectations

What is specialist photography?

Specialist photography is professional photography that is used to create images for a client’s purposes.

In the cannabis industry, specialist photography has a become a necessity for producing beautiful and clean visual images that establish a connection with customers and visitors: from high-resolution macro shots of raw product to lifestyle photos featuring real people and real models.

Risa knows firsthand what specialist photography means for consumers and clients,

Professional photography and design are so important for marketing today because of the visual and psychological aspect that only photos and images can deliver. It is all the more important for marketing in the cannabis industry. Marketing cannabis on a professional level is relatively new. People are still trying to figure it out.

Go on Weedmaps and you will find that many brands and businesses have dark and grainy images of product in unmarked bags. That kind of low-quality sends a message. Just the same as clean, tight photography with all-white backgrounds alike to high fashion brands sends a message. Most cannabis businesses are still in the first category.

Successful cannabis photography is much easier said than done. It requires high-end camera equipment and lenses, professional photo editing software, studio lighting, a network of photogenic lifestyle models and most importantly, a superstar photographer like Risa Knight.

When people think of photography, they automatically think of someone holding a camera. But Risa explains that it’s much more than that — it’s about getting to know the people beyond the lens.

This is a brand new field. There are so many opportunities to take photography and cannabis and make something new. Because of the lack of rules and norms, people are left to their own design — which can be both good and bad.

People need to look at your product and know it’s safe. They need to feel comfortable. At the same time, you want to create an image that will wow the customer and leaves a lasting impression.


Risa Knight – Lead Photographer at CCM


What are audiences and customers looking for in cannabis photography?

Successful marketing, from email newsletters to high-quality images on web pages, requires brands to connect with customers across all mediums of content.

At the same time, because marketing cannabis is relatively new, there is no blueprint for what cannabis photography is supposed to look like.

We are still picking apart what people really are looking for — because at the same time many people don’t know what they’re looking for. But you can draw some comparisons to high-level food photography. People want to be enticed into a trying a bite. It needs to be inviting.

Risa has been working on creating that inviting image for businesses and brands for over a year now. Her experience has enabled her to work with a variety of clients and partners to produce stellar imagery for cannabis clients.

I’m working on a brand right now that has put a lot of money into their marketing and products. It looks luxurious. You want to keep that brand image and build on it — so with that client, I make sure that the photos and images are cohesive with the overall brand image. The photos make that brand’s cannabis look like a luxury product that is part of a lifestyle. Some customers are drawn to brands that have that high-life, clean and classy look.

Other customers are drawn to the more grassroots, down-in-the-dirt rugged appeal. As a photographer, I have to be aware of what the brand image is trying to be, and what their target audience is drawn to.

Risa’s extensive amount of work includes a diverse range of brands that exhibit different lifestyles and evoke different emotions. Today’s customers are drawn to brands that speak to them, using their language. And a picture is worth a thousand words.

The current state of photography in the cannabis industry

The cannabis market is becoming increasingly saturated. Especially now with legalization measures boosting the prospects of big players entering the market. Pictures have become all the more important in differentiating a brand.

Despite this, many businesses are still relying on DIY and novice skills and equipment to create amateur shots. This is evident across all platforms: stores, websites, product menus, Weedmaps. These people are still used to the lower standards of the black market.

You need high-resolution shots. Macro shots. Nowadays, professional photography for products and brands requires a wide range of shots. And this means working with other people, like models for example.

You need to work with models, speak to them, get to know them. Some people feel uncomfortable so you need to get them to relax and just be themselves. You want these lifestyle shoots to look real, and that means you want the people in the images to look natural and carefree. I work hard to make sure that they have a fun time.


With this year’s prediction of California’s market becoming a $7 billion market — cannabis businesses that don’t have professional photos will face increasing pressure to upgrade their photography game or face being crowded out by bigger players.


What makes CCM’s photography department special?

Photography was one of the first departments established at CCM. The marketing team recognized early on that photos and imagery will play an ever-important role to set their clients apart from the rest of the competition.

CCM does in-house product shoots, lifestyle photoshoots as well as specialty design and editing services.

We are a grassroots marketing agency. We are young, we have passion, we have enthusiasm and we really take careful consideration into every decision made to make our clients and our brands thrive.

If you are a cannabis business, or a budding entrepreneur trying to break out, you need a professional photography department working for you. This is especially true of today’s market.

Bigger companies usually value quantity over quality. There is less emphasis on urgency and dedication to the clients’ needs. CCM makes sure that I have the appropriate time and equipment to meet my goals as a photographer, which allows me to meet and exceed the expectations of the client.

However, Risa’s job isn’t always so simple. The legalized cannabis industry is still in its infancy in California, and many clients have a hard time defining what exactly they want out of cannabis photography.

Many entrepreneurs don’t exactly know what they want at the first meeting. I’ve become good at getting to know the client; their customers, products, and vision. I try to get the client to discover what they want for themselves. And then we take it from there.

How Risa and CCM can create beautiful imagery for cannabis brands and businesses

CCM’s photography department is lead by Risa’s raw talent and photography skills. Risa is also equipped with top-notch camera equipment necessary to deliver the best shots possible.

As far as equipment goes, we have the right tools to get the job done. We have some really high-end cameras and a wide range of different lenses. This equipment gives us the luxury of shooting any type of image in a variety of ways.

Risa acknowledges that having the right equipment is critical to producing the best images and photos possible. However, it is the intuition and skill of the photographer to catch eye-popping photos and really sell the beauty and wonder of cannabis products.


Cannabis can be beautiful. It is beautiful. With the right lens and the right shot, you can show off the honey-golden concentrates, the frothy buds, the crystal trichomes, the fiery hairs, and the beautiful eye-popping color of flower. That’s up close and personal. That’s specialist photography.

With the industry becoming more competitive, it is necessary to have stellar photography that connects with customers on a personal level.

More than ever, brands need to explore and push the limits of what’s possible with their imagery. To achieve that, cannabis businesses need talented photographers with industry knowledge. Risa and CCM’s photography department work with brands to create that perfect imagery.

Is your cannabis business or brand looking to take their photography and imagery to the next level? Leave us a comment or start a conversation with one of our experts here for a free consultation.