Today's blog entry will be one inspired by a recent hater, that got me thinking. There were throwing shade as to some of the photos I've posted...implying that they were photoshopped, and fake photos. It got me thinking about the beliefs people have about what is and isn't ethical in photography and marketing and cannabis photography specifically. My wondering and thinking on this subject, made me reach out to some other breeders I am friends with, as well as some non-breeder friends to discuss their views on the subject. This is such a wild topic, as there are many levels and belief systems behind this, most of which are open for interpretation.
Before I really get into it, I suppose I should go over what my style is on this subject - as I'm sure many have seen some of my "edited" photos. I'd like to publicly go over how I generally use photos, as well as the "lifecycle" they may go on.
To start with - when I get photos from testers, I generally repost originals, no edits at all, with the customary tag line - who grew it, what the line is, often times with the parents listed, and descriptions or back stories I choose to share, and then usually any repost of the comments from the grower. With my own photos that I take, I generally also post up the originals at first. With the short life span photos have on Instagram before they are buried in the feeds, I generally expect that I'll be posting a lot of photos, as we have quite the testing team now. Then of course, some photos make an impression. It's usually quick to see which photo takes a life of its own and starts making the rounds of reposts from the vendors, and various "lifestyle" "influences" or whatever terminology you care to label them with.
Some photos, either because I love them a lot, or because they have received extra love from the community, will end up getting a second treatment. I generally will run the best photos, the photos that resonate with people, or that really capture the essence of a line, these ones I run thru lightroom. I use the Auto Lighting feature, which balances lighting, exposure, and contrast, do any cropping I see fit to put the focal point in the right area of the photo. Photos taken under HPS I generally try to use the auto lighting and color balance settings to counter act the Yellow Wash of the HPS. Then I remove all the metadata - which is the hidden data in the photo that allows GPS cords, device used to take the photo, time stamping, etc etc. off the photo. After that, I add my DFG logo watermark, so if people attempt to pass the photo off as theirs, it's at least watermarked (although that doesn't stop scammers). After that is done, the photo is still the "same" photo, only its crisper, clearer, and maybe has some background cropped out, or faces cropped out for privacy.
Photos in this stage are usually what I share with venders, put on my website, repost on IG, and use for general marketing purposes, and to share my genetics with the world. They don't have metadata at this point, so its much safer to put them online then raw, and while yes, the photo has technically been edited, lightroom doesn't add something that wasn't in the photo already. It can make it clearer, sharper, more in focus, brighter, and more pleasing to the eye sure. I personally think you will be hard pressed to find any industry that doesn't do at least this step to photos they use digitally.
Example - Tranquil hash plant. Top photo is raw - as my tester Skizzle posted it.
Bottom - this is the lightroom version. Just crisper, cleaner, less HPS influence
The next stage that some photos get - especially lately, as I've been enjoying it so much, is using Canva. Canva makes nearly all of our movies, reels, podcasts, challenge updates, and it also is super awesome for making Instagram posts. Generally, I use Canva to remove the backgrounds, and add playful, dragon themed, fire themed, or backgrounds that make the flowers pop!
Here's another fun before and after - Canva removed the background for me, then I added the valentine's day themed background, as well as the lettering. Now I know the saying, "You can't please everyone" and I'm sure there's probably some out there who think any modifications to any photo can be deceptive. However, I am of the mind - So long as the image is "true" - meaning what I am presenting is how the plant or flower actually looked, and it's posted in its original form as well, there should be no issues. That said though,
I am curious - what are the publics thought on this? What level (if any) of photo enhancement, edits, filters, etc. etc. do you think is "ok" and where do you see the line between tasteful enhancements, and misrepresentation? Ethics are always such an interesting topic, so I'd love to hear your guy's thoughts!