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October 14, 2019
Why Photographer Kristen Angelo Focuses Her Lens On Cannabis

BY AMANDA FLETCHER

If every picture tells a story, Kristen Angelo’s pictures tell the true stories of the people behind the plants. “We’ve all seen the images of a girl in a bikini smoking cannabis next to a guy with a gun,” she says. “If you are exposed to those images enough, you start to believe things about this particular culture.” And as far as Angelo is concerned, these beliefs are off the mark.

A small-town kid from a tight-knit family, Angelo’s favorite memories include chopping wood, pruning blueberry trees, and hiking through the woods on drizzly days. Cannabis was just another crop grown by her father on Vashon Island, in Puget Sound. “Everyone’s parents enjoyed a hand-rolled joint on the back porch in the evenings,” she says. So you can imagine her horror when her father, who had just taken her to a show at the Art Institute of Seattle, was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to a prison term. This was the 1990s, and Angelo was still a teenager. Naturally, the event caused a rift in her family and shifted her career aspirations. She put down her camera for a while, pursued a degree in criminal justice, and became a parent to three daughters of her own.

Angelo began documenting the cannabis industry while living in Tacoma, Washington, in 2014 — shortly after Washington legalized recreational pot. As a largely self-taught photographer, she had recognized a gap in service. “I saw a lot of flower product shots,” she says. “But that was it.” And once she started visiting the cultivators, she realized how emotionally invested she was in photographing the people themselves. She wanted to tell their stories — no staging, no posing — in order to elevate her life and the lives of others. “A strong visual narrative can disarm adversaries,” she says. “The best way to combat misinformation is to expand your own knowledge base.”

Ahead, Angelo shares her go-to cannabis essentials, and her approach to utilizing them on an everyday basis.

CANNABIS FAVORITES “Gummies by WYLD are an absolute hands-down favorite. Marionberry is my favorite flavor, but they’re all so good. They’re soft and not overly sugary; they dissolve quickly, and they don’t stick to your teeth.” Available at select MedMen stores.

CANNABIS RITUAL “I like to indulge in a sublingual tincture or an edible usually between five and seven in the evening.” Available at select MedMen stores.

To see Kristen Angelo's stunning imagery, visit A Pot Farmer's Daughter.

This story and many more are available in the Fall "Freedom" issue of EMBER magazine. You can grab a copy at your local MedMen store, Barnes and Noble, or Hudson News.

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