Quantcast
I Take Photos of Dank Weed for a Living

Marcus Gary "Bubbleman" Richardson makes his living photographing dank nugs and hash. With over 20 years of experience, he makes the average #weedporn photos look like mere shake.


All photos courtesy of
Marcus Gary "Bubbleman" Richardson

Marcus Gary "Bubbleman" Richardson makes his living photographing dank nugs and hash. Though he's been passionate about weed since he was a teenager, Bubbleman's spent his whole adult life working in Canada's semi-legal weed industry. After moving to British Columbia in the 90s, he began working at the medical dispensary The BC Compassion Club, growing cannabis for terminally-ill patients. In 1999, he and his wife decided to start their own business selling Bubble Bags—plant essence extractors used to make bubble hash at home—and he needed to photograph the product in order to sell it online. This was the start of his two-decade passion (and side hustle) shooting the types of photos that make your average #weedporn snaps look like mere shake.

After shooting Bubble Bags and a few of his friends' hand-blown glass pipes, Bubbleman "went a little bit deeper, and because of that I attracted like-minded people. These were people who wanted [to document] the best weed, but also had a little more vision." Such people included weed advocates and contributors to publications like High Times, National Geographic, and Cannabis Now, all which have since featured his photographs of gorgeous, crystal-covered herb. I sat down with the Bubbleman to discuss life as a cannabis photographer, what makes his work stand out from the excess of weed porn that saturates the web, and how he's managed to earn a huge online following and the respect of some of the country's most vocal weed proponents.

Bumblebee on the strain Medi Kush. Photo by the Bubbleman.

VICE: How did you get involved in cannabis photography?Marcus Gary "Bubbleman" Richardson: As I started Bubble Bags in the late 90s, the first thing I bought was a very high-end camera. I remember my buddy telling me, "You gotta check out this site called OverGrow." I registered the name Bubbleman and started slinging my Bubble Bags, and of course I needed a camera to engage with the people in the community. I ended up getting a little Sony Cybershot and because of it, we were really able to shine in the way where we could just shoot anything and put it on the internet. This hadn't really been done prior, if you could imagine.

Macro shot of resin-covered trim (a.k.a. the leftover leaves from a cannabis plant that can be used for hash extraction). Photo by the Bubbleman

How did taking photos for Bubble Bags turn into being published in established publications and books?
I met someone named Nick Zorro at the home of cannabis activist and author Robert Connell Clark in Amsterdam during the 2000 Cannabis Cup. Zorro had this beautiful cannabis magazine called Red Eye that he did out of his apartment back in the day.

When I walked in, there was a bowl full of 30 hash entries. I went over to the bowl and I dug around. I didn't see them all, but I saw one and said, "That's your winner." At the end of the Cup, that entry won and Nick told me, "I want you to write for the magazine, I want to promote Bubble Bags, I want to promote your photos, and I want to promote everything you do."

Nick's help led to me working for Cannabis Culture, Skunk, Weed World, and countless other publications. I also have photos on the front cover and throughout Robert Connell Clark's book Hashish, as well as work published in books by Ed Rosenthal and Mel Frank.

Close-up of a hash plant seed. Photo by the Bubbleman

Do you prefer to take pictures of hash or flowers?
I love them all. Shooting fresh growing bud is unreal, but I like working with what I call "solventless quiver" [a mix of three types of solventless hash—dry sift, bubblehash, and rosin]. Being able to bring those photos to much of the cannabis world has been an honor because it's something people never saw before.

What shots stand out to you in your collection?
One of the most beautiful shots I've ever taken was of the isolated heads of cannabis resin away from everything else [on the plant]. By using different size dry sift screens, this basically created the most pure form of unadulterated phytocannabinoids that I had ever seen or experienced without any water soluble lost. Therefore, it was basically the cleanest and purest hash known to man at the time. That was the original 99.99%.

99.99% pure, unadulterated phytocannabinoids.Photo courtesy of the Bubbleman

With a variety of cannabis photos being posted from different people all the time, what separates the quality photos from the bad ones?
Just like at a Cannabis Cup, you have two groups: the super connoisseurs, and then the people who are just like, "I like weed." It's the same with photography. I post photos [on social media] because I want to share what I love, and it's my perspective that I want to share. The bar is much lower for so many people because they're not professional photographers. Their opinion is just as valid, but to a photographer, it's completely different, sort of like how a bass player hears mainly the low-end in a concert, but everyone else hears a synergy of all the instruments.

What makes your photos stand out from the rest?
What I think might set me apart is that a lot of the young guys are trying to eliminate holding or touching the camera as much as possible. I went in to learn macro photography in an uncontrolled environment, which was just a garden full of flowers with bugs flying around. The Holy Grail macro shot is to get a bug flying mid-air, which you could never do on a rail system or tripod. Any movement is very visible when it comes to macro photographs, so you have to learn how to breathe and track your subject the same as a sniper. So maybe one of my advantages is I can shoot damn accurately at 5:1 (with the camera fully extended).


With the rise in popularity of social media and the new legal standing of the plant in some places, how has cannabis photography changed over the years
Well, there's the fact that there is now a professional industry for cannabis photographers, whether it's shooting the bud or shooting the resin. Since we don't have scratch-and-sniff computer screens, e-commerce requires photos to engage the viewer so that they purchase the product. As a result, cannabis photography is a very important part of sales, as is videography. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

It's gotten more professional in the sense that we don't have to hide, we're getting paid real wages (and not just a half pound of weed) with checks at the end of the day. We're able to shoot in gardens that are legal, and there's no risk of being arrested or have our equipment taken away because we're photographing an illegal garden, which was always the case for me up until three or four years ago. As cannabis use continues to be normalized, cannabis photography will continue to be normalized as well.

See more photos taken by the Bubbleman below, and visit his website and Instagram. Follow Tyler Curtis on Twitter.

Macro shot of a leaf on the strain Rock Star

Sleestack seeds from DNA Genetics, photographed in Amsterdam.

Macro photo of a leaf on the strain Sweet Skunk

Contamination shot of dry sift hash.

Macro shot of the strain Afghani Bullrider.

Small cube of some bubble hash.

Macro shot of the hash plant epicotyl.

Macro shot of the strain Afghani Bullrider.

Follow Tyler on Twitter. And follow the Bubbleman on Instagram.