Dope Photos: An Interview with StockPot Images Founder, Ophelia Chong
By Scarlett Davis
Ringing in the new year, California becomes the eighth state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but slow your roll before buying 2018 Coachella tickets; recreational marijuana use is legal in some states, but it is still illegal under federal law. Regardless, a new era is upon us; our changing attitudes towards certain drugs is testament.
Helping to eradicate negative perceptions, is StockPot Images, the first-stock photo agency dedicated to showcasing cannabis-specific imagery. Ophelia Chong is StockPot Images founder, as well as the co-founder of Asians Americans for Cannabis Education. The company is a bifurcation away from contrived stock images, as well as stereotypical cannabis photography. StockPot Images uses real people, not models, with two caveats for their images -- that they not be “traditional” and they don’t “objectify women.” The company is careful to curate up-and-coming photographers, and they target healthcare and branding agencies, along with corporate industries with recognizable partners such as, Adobe.
There is a commercial need for these kind of images, as well as a greater need to see people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages partake in the drug as a part of their everyday routine. Social change is largely effected through perception, with photography being the perfect medium. StockPot Images helps to normalize the drug in our collective conscious, evolving our understanding.
Scarlett Davis: How did this idea come to you?
Ophelia Chong: I have a family member with an incurable disease and she was using cannabis to help with the pain, as I was watching her ingest I thought “wow, she’s a stoner!” This hit me hard, I was stereotyping her, someone I love with a term used to put down users of cannabis. I have been involved in the business of “images” for over two decades and I know the power of an image to change opinions. I created StockPot Images that same week, my mission is to de-stigmatize the cannabis patient and community.
SD: What is your connection to photography?
OP: My connection began in college at the Art Center College of Design, I graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts and Photography. Since then I have been a creative director in entertainment and for multiple publications and my art has been featured in international books and soon on a cover for Simon + Schuster next October 2018. I also taught at ACCD in the photography department and built many long lasting relationships with my students.
SD: Which images do businesses request the most?
OP: Strains, we have the largest and most comprehensive collection of strains in the world. It is like having a photo of every wine grape although instead of 100’s, it’s 1000’s. The next most popular is ripe flowers and lifestyles. We offer the best and most diverse collection of real cannabis users in the world.
SD: How have you seen this website/opportunity take off for photographers after the legalization in Colorado and now California?
OP: What it has given photographers is an outlet to show their work besides their websites and social media. We are in for the long game and not as a flash, the long term is to build the collection as a stock agency first and a historical archive second. I consider StockPot Images
as a library that captures the culture and history of cannabis.