As the cannabis industry continues to trend towards wide-scale legalization, the idea of doing legitimate business in the cannabis sector is slowly working its way into the minds of mainstream America. That being said, the industry is also being more closely monitored and observed than ever before. As such, many entrepreneurs are looking to establish ‘best business practices’ for their companies, often with little reference to fall back on. Ophelia Chong, Founder of Stock Pot Images (SPI), the first stock photo agency to specialize exclusively in cannabis-related imagery, hopes to assist cannabis industry professionals, as well as mainstream America, with this issue.
To do this, Ophelia combined her 15+ years of stock photography experience with her Rolodex of former photography students to create a new and exciting place for stock cannabis imagery. Additionally, the company was branded as ‘Stock Pot Images’ to make it more approachable to the mainstream public, while at the same time obvious to cannabis consumers. By founding SPI, Ophelia has provided the cannabis industry with a safe place to obtain high-quality image licensing, hopefully putting an end to the image appropriation issue and copyright infringement troubles that have been seen throughout the industry in the last ten years.
Why Stock Pot Images?
Ophelia founded Stock Pot Images with the hope to solve a number of problems in the cannabis industry. Her overall goal is to help teach the cannabis industry to operate in the real world. After all, in order to be a legal industry, you have to operate within the boundaries of the law, even those outside the cannabis space.
“The idea for Stock Pot Images came to me while I was in the shower one day. I’ve been in the stock photo industry for 15 years and, when I went to research the market for professional cannabis photos, I found relatively basic photography that was way too leaf based to be taken seriously. Our goal is to present the industry in a more professional, accurate and responsible light.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
The Image Appropriation Problem
While the cannabis industry is moving the needle towards mainstream acceptance, much of the space still operates underground and has that ‘Wild West’ feel to it. One example of this is image appropriation, where you repurpose an image without the rights or consent of the party who created it.
For instance, last September a cannabis edible company named TinctureBell was sued by candy giant The Hershey Company for allegedly breaching a number of design and name patents. Basically, TinctureBell repurposed many of The Hershey Company’s designs and slightly altered the product names to make them sound like cannabis treats. This action cost the TinctureBell company tens of thousands of dollars and, for a cannabis edible company, that money could mean the difference between being open or closing their doors.
“As the cannabis industry moves from underground into mainstream America, appropriation and illegal content distribution is something cannabis professionals need to pay attention to. Our original images are beautiful and, while they do come at a price, can be legally repurposed and distributed. In essence, you might pay a small amount of money now, but you will save a big amount of money later.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
Accurate Industry Representation
One of the biggest goals for Stock Pot Images is to more accurately represent cannabis consumers to the public. Like many others in the cannabis space, Ophelia was tired of seeing the same old rhetoric being pushed out as if it truly represented millions of active consumers. In her words, “Wine drinkers don’t all look the same, so why are we acting like all cannabis consumers are alike?” Stock Pot Images does not employ actors to represent cannabis culture. Rather, their carefully selected photographers aim to represent accurate portrayals of everything cannabis culture is all about.
“For the general public, we are providing photo’s of real users, not actors. A cannabis user knows what is authentic and what is a staged scene for a photo. You can’t put fake in front of a cannabis consumer and get away with it. Conversely, the mainstream, non-cannabis user has a hard time telling fake from real, so we wanted to give them a real image. That way they start off with that in their head instead of some terrible misrepresentation of the industry.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
How Does It Work?
Stock Pot Images is presented in a very user-centric, easy to use format. To begin, all the user needs to do is enter a search word on the homepage and the filtering process will take you to the images you need. Additionally, Stock Pot Images hosts a curated gallery section on their site, enabling users to scroll through pre-organized categories of high definition photographs.
“While registration is not a requirement, users who do register have the ability to create a box of saved images for future use. It works just like Getty Images, so for those who already know how stock imagery works, you will know exactly how to use the site. For those who haven’t used a platform like this before, it is extremely easy to get familiar with and has a short learning curve.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
Once you find a photo that you want to use, there is a price calculator attached to it that will help you determine how much the image rights would be. However, Ophelia often negotiates with Stock Pot Images clientele to get them a number that works for everyone, so feel free to reach out to her.
“We assign value to our imagery almost like you would renting a car. How far are you going to drive it? What size do you want? Basic, medium or SUV? It all depends on what you are going to use it for.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
Who Is Taking The Pics?
Stock Pot Images currently works with over 100 photographers from across the world, including Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and Ecuador, in addition to the United States of course. Ophelia has spent years teaching photography, so she didn’t have to look very far to find her first batch of picture takers.
“Because of my history with teaching photography, it was easy for me to find very talented photographers right off the bat. Initially, I sought out the talent that provides photo stock for our site. However, as we have grown that process has shifted. While I still keep my eyes open for new contributors, most of our new hires seek us out, often after they see some of our great imagery.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
Can You Get Involved?
The short answer is absolutely. Stock Pot Images is always looking for more contributors and currently offers the best commission split (50% of gross) in the stock imagery business. If you’re a photographer and you think you have what it takes, all you have to do is send your links/gallery/profile to Ophelia for review. Each week Stock Pot Images sends out a ‘hit list’ of images the site is looking for, all with the goal of presenting cannabis consumers in a more truthful light.
The main objective of Stock Pot Images is to show the general public that cannabis stereotypes are not true. By presenting cannabis consumers in a more responsible and socially accurate way, SPI is doing their part to help people realize that cannabis is simply just another medical or adult-use option, with the end game being national cannabis legalization for both uses.
Once legalization is accomplished, SPI will expand into providing high-quality imagery for the healthcare sector. As the legal medical cannabis market increases, SPI believes the imagery needs for healthcare facilities is going to evolve as well.
“Medical cannabis applications are only going to increase, especially given the fantastic research opportunities that are being presented. As that evolves, healthcare companies like Kaiser will likely begin to address the issue of cannabis. They are going to want to send the right image. Not the image of a kid on the couch with a bong and a pizza, but a much classier image befitting their demographic, perhaps an image of a grandmother smoking in her garden.” – Ophelia Chong – Founder of Stock Pot Images
Do you want to find out more about Stock Pot Images? Are you a photographer? Check out this link to learn more!