The Birth of Potography

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The Beginning

Potography started as an inside joke.

I was riding the Long Island Rail Road one day when I noticed an ad poster with a missing letter. 

I think it originally read “POHTOGRAPHY,” and someone ripped off the “H” in an attempt to correct the typo.

Whatever happened, all I could see was the word that remained: “POTOGRAPHY.

long island railroad advertisement that inspired potography
The inspiration for “potography”

I immediately realized that “pot-ography” was the perfect play on words for “cannabis photography,” so I took a picture of the ad (above) and sent it to some friends.

The word stuck and we began using it whenever we took photos of some really nice weed or heady glass.

This went on for about a year before one night, at an afterparty in DC, I was chatting with Troy Dayton from the Arcview Group (which is like Shark Tank for the cannabis industry) when he heard my friend refer to her cannabis photos as “potography.”

Troy and the rest of the group loved the concept and we all encouraged my friend to turn it into an actual photography business. When it became clear that she wasn’t interested, however, I decided to take up the challenge myself.

There was only one problem:

I knew nothing about photography!

I mean, I loved taking photos of weed on my phone, but I didn’t know anything about how to practice photography professionally.

So, naturally, I went for it anyway.

Instead of trying to be a cannabis photographer, though, I set out to build a business that would help cannabis photographers.

Still, I didn’t really know what I was doing and, after months of trial and error, it became obvious I still had a lot to learn.

The Hiatus

I put the project on hold in 2016 in order to focus on growing, with a little bit of policy work on the side. Growing is a true passion of mine and 2016 ended up being a great year for my garden. I won the blue ribbon for “Best Bud” at the 2016 DC State Fair, and then placed first at the Capital Cup later that fall.

blank
@sammcblaze in his happy place

Growing is still my favorite hobby and passion, but after seeing how things changed with legalization and after I won those competitions, I started to realize that I needed to leave growing alone as a hobby and a passion, at least for a while.

I got really sick of people asking, “how much you yield, bro?” when all I was trying to do was enjoy the plant and grow my medicine.

After realizing this and noticing some serious issues with the way legalization was unfolding, I turned my attention back to another passion of mine: marijuana politics.

I say passion not because I love marijuana politics (I actually strongly dislike marijuana politics), but because I care about marijuana politics. I’ve known cannabis should be legal since I was 13, and I’ve been an advocate ever since.

But, by the summer of 2018, I started feeling like politics was eating my soul and taking a toll on my happiness. It became obvious to me that our political system is deeply flawed and that I’d live a sad and empty life trying to convince these assholes in DC to do anything good.

So I started thinking about what I could do next and found myself revisiting the idea of turning “potography” into a cannabis photography website.

Potography 2.0

At this point, I was using dev.potography.com to host some of my favorite cannabis photos from my garden. Since the site was already half-built (it was super basic and barely functional, but it was there), I began brainstorming ideas for what to do with all my photos.

Eventually, I thought, “maybe I could turn my photos into postcards!”

potography postcard backside
Potography Postcards

I didn’t even plan to sell the postcards. I just wanted to give them away for free to people who voted in a photo contest I was dreaming up but had no idea how to organize. So I did some research and found zero companies selling cannabis postcards at the time and thought, “maybe I can just start selling these.”

I continued my market research and quickly realized there’s a need for all kinds of cannabis stationery items and not just postcards.

And down the rabbit hole I went…

Potography Media

A year later, I launched dev.potography.com with a full line of greeting cards, postcards, notecards, and gift wrap. I got a bit distracted (or ahead of myself) learning how to design greeting cards and websites, but in the process of learning these new skills, I came to realize I could finally implement some of my earlier visions for Potography like the photo contest I was dreaming up in 2018.

I was also beginning to come to terms with the fact that the products I had designed weren’t obviously related to cannabis photography, and it didn’t really make sense to use Potography as the brand for my cannabis-themed gift products.

When a friend of mine pointed this out, confirming my suspicions, I decided it was time to make some big changes.

Fortunately, I’d just discovered a new hemp paper blend made specifically for fine art and photo printing, and I already had some basic printing knowledge thanks to my greeting card excursions. So, as soon as I saw this hemp paper hit the market, I bought a professional printer and ran some tests.

hemp fine art photography paper
Close-up view of the hemp fine art paper we use for our custom prints and photo contest prizes

The results were phenomenal. I simply loved printing high-end cannabis photography on high-end hemp paper. And, to add icing to the cake, it was the perfect prize for the winners of my monthly photo contest.

Everything was finally starting to click.

Looking ahead

Today, I’m finally ready to bring my original visions for Potography to life, and it’s beyond exciting to see how things are developing.

Starting with our new monthly Photo Contests, the goal for Potography moving forward is to cultivate a vibrant and active community of photographers, designers, and artists who are all united by our passion for cannabis and creativity.

On a personal level, Potography is my learning lab. It’s a place where I can experiment with and express my own creativity as a web designer, photographer, and entrepreneur. And, while this is definitely an important aspect of the project for me, this doesn’t mean I take our mission any less seriously.

I can only use this as my learning lab because it’s something I truly care about; it’s exciting and challenging enough that it motivates me to keep working on it, but not so serious that if I mess something up, people are going to be harmed (by losing tons of money or suffering reputational damage, for example).

With all that said, this is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see how this project unfolds.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for our monthly photo contest announcements and, if you’re an artist and you love cannabis, be sure to enter every month for a chance to win! Prizes change each month, so follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop.

Thanks for visiting!

Sam

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About Potography

About Potography

Potography celebrates cannabis through photography, design, and all other forms of art. Our monthly photo contest is a fun and friendly way to highlight the artistic talent in the cannabis community as well as the natural beauty of the cannabis plant and the art it inspires.

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