PDN: Do you have difficulty
getting access to growing
KA: Not particularly, but that
is probably one of my biggest
challenges: earning their
trust. I always [ask]: What
are you comfortable with
me photographing? Can I
photograph your face? Can I
share your identity? Are you
more comfortable with just your
hands and your feet showing?
Wherever they want to take it,
I’m fine with that.
PDN: What are some
KA: At first it was a challenge
making a living, and legitimizing it
as a career. Now I feel established
and confident in calling myself a
PDN: You seem careful to
call it cannabis instead of
pot or other terms. Is that
KA: I don’t avoid it [the word
“pot”]. My website is [called]
A Pot Farmer’s Daughter. But
the image that I’m projecting
is important. If I use the word
“cannabis,” it’s a bit more
respected. It’s politically correct.
PDN: How did you get your
business up and running?
KA: I would say 90 percent of
my connections evolved through
Instagram. I established an
Instagram account and shared only
my professional portfolio there.
PDN: How did you get people
to notice your feed?
KA: I researched who in the
cannabis community is on
Instagram, and targeted who
I might want to work with
[using hashtags]. Now I pitch
to mainstream publications.
PDN: Who are some of
KA: I just left CannaCon Expo,
which is a three-day [cannabis
tradeshow] in Seattle. I was on
assignment for mg magazine.
That’s a business-to-business
magazine [for the cannabis
industry]. Cannabis Now, a
cannabis culture publication, also
found me through Instagram.
The very first relationship that
I had with a magazine was
Marijuana Venture magazine,
based in Renton, Washington.
I met the publisher at CannaCon
[in 2014]. I didn’t have a large
enough portfolio to where I felt
comfortable pitching myself to
someone, but I took his card with
intent to connect with him at some
point. So I spent a year building
a portfolio, and then called him.
PDN: Do you do commercial
KA: I do. I work with Weedmaps,
a tech company with an app
consumers can use to shop for
[retail] products. Weedmaps
contracts me to shoot products
for their menu and right now I’m
managing the photography for
about 25 different recreational
stores. I’ve also been hired by soil
and lighting companies, and an
independent marketing company
based in California. Then of
course there are independent
cultivators who are looking to
have a portfolio to help them
with their sales.
PDN: What are rates like
for editorial and commercial
KA: Every publication has a
different budget. I have a client
I charge as little as $50 per
image, and a client who pays
me $300 for a full-page spread
and $1,500 for a cover. Right
now I’m averaging about $1,500
per month in editorial fees, and
about $6,000 per month for
PDN: What gear are you using?
KA: I’m shooting with a Canon
5D Mark II, which is a bit outdated
but it still works fine for me. I’m
going to run it into the dirt! My
favorite lens is a 35mm L. It’s a
great storytelling lens. It pretty
much lives on my camera 90
percent of the time. The other 10
percent of the time I swap between
a 50mm f/1.4, or an 85mm f/1.2,
and a 100mm macro lens.
PDN: Are you lighting things?
KA: I’m an all-natural light kind
of girl. On occasion, I’ll bust out a
flash if I’m indoors. But I feel like
manipulating [available] lighting
provides a sense of mood. It’s one
of the things I love to capture with
the camera, so I just roll with it.
PDN: Any other special gear
KA: For product photography,
I was using a 24x24 Savage
Luminous Pro LED shooting
tent. I’ve just upgraded to an
Orangemonkie Foldio, which
is more compact and a little bit
easier to travel with.
PDN: What’s the competition like?
KA: There are definitely more and
more people marketing themselves
as cannabis photographers, but I’m
really focused on developing my
own strong body of work, evolving
my craft, and building strong
relationships with people I want to
work with. I do see a lot of people
on social media who come to me to
ask questions about how they can
get into the industry.
PDN: What advice do you give
in this niche?
KA: My first piece of advice
would be to do it because you’re
passionate about it, not because
it’s a trend. My second piece of
advice would be to know your way
around your camera, because there
are extreme [variations] in lighting
conditions. And just find your own
voice. That’s always important.
Kristen Angelo is taking a documentary approach to the marijuana industry. “I want to humanize [it] and deliver an authentic
portrayal of my subject,” she says. ABOVE LEF T: A marijuana grower assesses the crop. RIGH T: Angelo relies on natural light
as much as she can. “I feel like manipulating [available] lighting provides a sense of mood,” she explains.