With the Seedsman Photo Cup Spring Prize Draw now closed, we thought we would introduce to you our seventh judge, who will be selecting the best entries into the competition so far.
Alongside Paul Stanford, Curtis Taylor, Devin Stein, Chris Romaine, Sean Moore, Morgan English and a host of other industry influencers, Kristen Angelo, a professional photographer, will be on the judging panel of the Photo Cup.
Kristen – who runs A Pot Farmer’s Daughter – was selected by Seedsman for her comprehensive and varying talents in the field of photography.
She has been described as ‘One of the most distinctive voices in cannabis photo-journalism’.
Can you explain a little about Vashon Island and what it was like growing up in such a unique place?
Vashon is an island located in the Puget Sound just south of Seattle that measures in at about 37 square miles.
I lived with my dad, his second wife and her two children, and my younger sister, on a beautiful piece of property that had a wood ravine, a pond, and a blueberry farm.
The closest thing we had to smart tech was pagers and dial up internet on school computers.
It was a rural community sheltered from the city, and most parents let their kids run freely on the island, which means we found our way to trouble from time to time. The majority of my friends’ parents also smoked cannabis, some were small business owners, many were artists, most tended their own vegetable gardens and were involved in the community, I remember them all having a progressive approach to parenting.
We were all raised by loving hippie types, and honestly, it was just as cool as it sounds.
Can you speak about your father and why he was the inspiration for the name of your company?
My dad has grown and smoked cannabis for as long as I can remember.
In the 90’s our family home was raided by a slew of D.E.A. agents, and my dad was subsequently sentenced to a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence in a different state.
In 2014, when I began narrowing in on cannabis photography as my niche, I realized early on that I was much more interested in creating a visual narrative around the people growing cannabis than I was photographing the plant.
The pillar of my photo work is the belief or idea that authentic storytelling is what makes for the most interesting narratives, so creating a sort of namesake that encompassed my own experience with prohibition, it embodied a sense of poetic harmony to me.
What came first – the love of cannabis or the love of photography?
I have a love for both and the reasons often intersect. They both serve as multi-faceted vehicles for slowing down, tuning in, observing the world and its complexities from a different perspective, self-reflection, and creativity.
Both cannabis and photography have always been present in my life. My dad has this story he likes to tell about me as a little girl perched next to him on the bench seat of his Oldsmobile, cruising down the road with one arm wrapped around his neck telling him to, “smoke another funny one,” referring to a joint. That was the early 80’s when smoking weed was more shameful than letting your kids roam freely in a moving vehicle.
My dad attended college at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, and since he was a young parent at the time, I often accompanied him on campus. He was studying early childhood education at the time but took a film photography course or two and I remember being his muse for the lens.
I have these memories of him taking my portrait in scenic parks, and also sitting under these intensely hot studio lights. I like to jokingly think that that is the exact moment I decided I had an innate disdain for studio photography.
I’ve always being drawn to photographs. My mom use to keep a collection of family photo albums on the top shelf of her bedroom closet and I would ritually retrieve them and look through them every summer when I went home to visit her.
I was about 15 the first time I smoked cannabis, and at the time disposable cameras had really become a thing so aside from toying around with my dad’s Polaroid, that was really my first introduction to cameras.
After graduating high school, my dad and I attended an open house at an art college for their photography program. That didn’t work out for me, but I picked up a camera a few years later in my early 20’s after I became a parent myself and I really haven’t put it down since.
How do you think photography can become a major catalyst for socio-political changes in attitudes towards cannabis?
Photography is powerful, and I believe it can be a major catalyst for socio-political changes in attitudes toward many things. I believe a strong visual narrative can disarm adversaries, enlighten the undecided, and empower those subject to scrutiny and stereotype.
You have visited a number of farms/growers etc. Where do you believe has the most impressive set-ups?
It depends on how you define impressive. I’ve photographed licensed indoor facilities that span over 100,000 square feet and are fully staffed 24 hours around the clock, and I’ve photographed outdoor clandestine farms buried in the hills of Mendo operating with less than a fourth of the comparable budget or staff that could give the aforementioned a run for its money.
Generally, I’m not impressed by set-ups. I’m impressed by passion, resilience, good work ethic, and a killer story.
What do you look for in a good photograph? What advice would you have for those entering the Seedsman Photo Cup?
Creative use of light and compelling compositions. It’s interesting, really. Growing cannabis and making photographs share an intrinsic formula in that both require an understanding of light and how to manipulate it to your advantage.
Finally, for those entering the Photo Cup who don’t have access to high-quality equipment, how can they get a great photo with just their phone for example?
The best camera is the one you have with you. You can craft a beautiful image with good light, a smart phone, and the right camera app.
HPS and halides are intense and they’re going to throw your color temp off.
Ideally, shoot your plants with the lights turned down or off and use natural light if you can. With the right tools and some practice, you can master shooting in extreme light conditions.
Use a camera app that allows you to manually control your white balance. Kick that baby to cool and experiment in the 1500-2800K range depending on your system and light output.
View the in-camera image in natural light to dial it in and make adjustments. Apps I recommend are Moment and ProCamera.
Moment also makes some great macro and wide angle lenses specifically for smart phones.
Kristen is one of a number of high-profile influencers who will be judging the winners of the Seedsman Photo Cup 2019.
To get involved, simply head to the Seedsman Photo Cup page and upload your entries now!
Check out Kristen’s website here!