Women's Lib: StockPot Images Talks Breaking Pot Stereotypes
Ophelia Chong curates the finest weed shots.
Ophelia Chong started StockPot Images to eliminate cannabis stereotypes. She curates some of the best weed photos in the biz, and is one of the first to sell modern stock images of cannabis.
Besides her extensive background in photography, Chong is the co-founder of Asian Americans for Cannabis Education. The organization connects and empowers Asian communities to educate the public on cannabis issues, news, and policy affecting Asians worldwide.
What began as an idea in the shower has turned into a photography business on the frontlines of social change.
The KIND: Why did you start StockPot Images?
Ophelia Chong: I started StockPot in January 2015 when my sister came to visit from her home in Beijing. My younger sister has an autoimmune disease, scleroderma, and it has progressed since her diagnosis about 12 years ago.
She wanted see if cannabis could help with her symptoms and to relieve some of the side effects of her multiple medications. We had no real knowledge of cannabis. We were fumbling in the dark. Some of the edibles and oils alleviated her insomnia; some kept her up all night. We were basically making it up as we went along. One night she was pacing the hallways. She had eaten too much of a cookie. It was the end of the experiment.
I was curious how photography, specifically stock photography, presented cannabis users. As I searched through the major stock agencies, I was taken aback at how outdated the media was; none of the people portrayed in stock looked like my sister. The fire was lit that day. From there, StockPot Images was born. It was born out of love and a passion to change how the public viewed cannabis and it’s users.
Seagrass Photography/StockPot Images
The KIND: What are some challenges you face in this space?
Ophelia Chong: My main challenge was my “newness” in the cannabis industry. It was a steep learning curve that went from “what is indica and sativa” to smoking my first joint since high school. I joined the first Women Grow meeting in Los Angeles. From there, I networked with women who worked with me, to educate and to support what I was determined to do. The next hill to climb was to get content. I taught at Art Center College of Design in the photo department. In my class, I knew people who smoked cannabis. I approached them first and, once I told them they could write off the “props” as a business expense, they joined. I launched StockPot Images on 4/20/15 with 2,300 images and 40 photographers. Today we are at 12,000 images and over 150 photographers, illustrators, fine artists and filmmakers. All of our images are of real users and their communities, from two to 90 years old, all minorities, and the largest collection of strains in the world.
Bettina Chavez/StockPot Images
The KIND: What is the best-looking weed strain?
Ophelia Chong: Because I love color, is anything in the Purp strain. I love the wild colors and the way the plant displays like the rainbow queen she is. Ingesting, I prefer Indica. I only partake after a long day after working. It is my reward, and it is usually either an edible or tincture. Usually I am in my pajamas and in bed, slowly slinking off to a restful dream filled land filled with green leaves and elves making unicorn shaped cookies.
The KIND: How do you find weed photographers?
Ophelia Chong: In the beginning, I went out and searched for photographers through word of mouth and online. I also went through flickr to find imagery that I wanted in the collection. One of my favorite photographers, Delima of Brazil, came to me via flickr. Today I am approached eight out of ten times, and I search through Instagram for new talent whenever I can. My roster consists of pros and amateurs, the common bond being the love for the plant.
George Post/StockPot Images
The KIND: If not StockPot, what would you be doing?
Ophelia Chong: If I wasn’t doing this, I would be still designing and teaching. I loved that life. It was a life I lived for two decades. However we all need to evolve. This is my newest metamorphosis.