Tyler “@terpcam” Cameron has made a name for himself as one of the top cannabis photographers in the game. Based in Bend, Oregon Tyler learned his craft over the past few years straight from a legend of cannabis photography and media, Erik Christiansen, better known as Erik Nugshots.
Through his lens, Tyler delivers otherworldly macro-photography that pushes the boundaries of our own perception of cannabis. His photos are works of art that give a new appreciation for the beauty of the plant, showcasing high-quality cannabis beyond what the naked eye can see.
Tyler sat down with KCRA and spoke about finding his path towards becoming a professional weed photographer, the importance of caring for the plant and the culture, and the story behind his cross-country collaboration with Parea Biosciences to let PA patients experience a personally beloved cut.
Growing up as a Colorado kid, Tyler said that cannabis carried a heavy stigma that kept him away from smoking. That would change in college when a friend offered him a joint after rock climbing and he soon discovered his love for the plant, “I wanted to know all of it and be around it. It was what clicked in my mind. I grew up diagnosed with ADHD, so I never really had a committed interest. I was always left wondering what I was going to do as a career. All of that anxiety and uncertainty was just calmed with cannabis, and I knew I had to be around the plant in some way.”
His degree in outdoor recreation and business led him to hold positions right out of college at a ski resort in the winter and as a state boat inspector in the summer. He said he enjoyed lake life, “I got to sit by a beautiful lake all day and smoke weed,” but explained that he soon came to realize that this line of work was killing his passion for the outdoors. “I loved rock climbing… until I was pushing kids and tourists up a wall.”
Looking for a change of scenery and hoping for a career in cannabis, Tyler moved from Colorado to Bend, Oregon in 2018. There, he got his first job in the marijuana industry as a budtender at a local dispensary and, in a moment of serendipity, met Erik Nugshots a few weeks later.
They met through happenstance. Tyler was scrolling on Instagram one day, and tapped past a picture of what he recognized as the view from his own apartment complex in the background of one of Erik’s Instagram stories. He sent Erik a message and the two struck up a friendship over a joint and a shared love for all things cannabis. A friendship that has developed into a close working relationship over the last five years and led Tyler towards a career in cannabis photography.
He admits it’s still hard to believe the path his journey took from the lake in Colorado, to a budtender in Oregon, to professional marijuana photographer, but you would be hard pressed to convince him that it was just coincidence.
“It gets crazier every single time that I talk about how it all started. I got a camera a couple months before I moved to Oregon, and I was really into dabbing and taking pictures of my glass. I just saw it as a fun little hobby. I was having fun and taking pictures of weed and that’s really as far as it went. But when I got to Oregon and met Erik, he started teaching me more about photography and I started to see how cool it was and how it was totally different than any other path in cannabis. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t all just instantly make sense but as we continued to develop a friendship and work together, photography just started to click. Sometimes I still don’t feel like I should be here right now, there’s so many other paths I could have been on but it’s special because this one found me.”
Setting out on this path over the last five years has come with its trials but it's also given Tyler the opportunity to learn from one of the best and develop his own artistry, philosophies and skills while traveling to some of the top grows in the country. He said he remains inspired by Erik’s painstaking process and the detail-oriented work ethic displayed in his photography, “Erik is an incredible photographer and he pushed me to try new techniques, but also showed me how to care about minute details and develop a standard of quality.” Tyler continues to push his own work to that higher standard of quality and level up year after year, shot after shot, bud after bud. He wants the next shoot to always be better than the last.
It’s also not lost on him how much fun it is to step inside these grows, hang out with the plants, and take photographs of some of the highest-grade marijuana products on the market. We were curious to find out what he thinks are the keys to success for some of the best grows he’s seen, and Tyler told us that while every grow is different there’s two main things to look out for: a love for the plant and having a good time growing it.
“Having fun is absolutely one of the main things, and the other one is caring for this plant. It sounds so cheesy and so broad, but when you really look at it you can watch a grower and you can tell, are they caring for the plant or are they just caring for the building or the room or the business?”
While he may not necessarily be a grower himself, these principles remain central to Tyler’s story and his work as a photographer. What connects it all, he said, is the love for the plant and staying open to any opportunity to have the plant at the center of his experience.
“The one thing that connects everything is just a love for this plant. I haven't said no to something or turned away from something because it's not my exact path. I love photography and I also love talking to weed growers, and I also love hanging out at the weed grow.”
Tyler also just loves good weed. At his dispensary in Bend, he was always on the hunt for the best products coming through the doors. At that time, some of the best cannabis was coming from Storm Cannabis, where Patrick Sprout, Parea’s Director of Cultivation, was the head grower from 2018 to 2021. While he was continuing to learn from Erik, Tyler started working at Storm just for a chance to take pics of the flower, continuing to hone his photography skills and help out however he could to be around the plants in a grow that was committed to cultivating high-quality cannabis.
His photography has continued to progress from his time at Storm until now, but you can see how Tyler’s passion and care for the plant is beautifully rendered through all his work. Technical skill, breathtaking precision, and a meticulous eye for detail are necessary to produce these shots, but in his eyes it’s also about doing it for the right reasons. He said this is what separates someone who shoots commercial portraits and weddings from a professional cannabis photographer. The extra care that comes from feeling connected to the plant and wanting to represent the amount of hard work the cultivators put into growing something special.
It’s also a lot to ask for a photograph to tell you about the entire experience with the plant. We sparked up a joint and got Tyler started, and he got lost in just talking about the weed. He told us about some of his favorite strains from Patrick and his team at Storm, like the Wedding Cake, Vapor Fuel, and, of course, the ICC x Kush Mintz.
He said that when the future became uncertain for Storm Cannabis, he knew that his photographs weren’t enough to his connection to those strains. So, he grabbed as many cuts as he could and set up a tent in his garage to keep them alive in the hope that other people would get to experience them again.
“We loved those plants, and we loved those strains. We found a lot of special plants that are gone now that are never coming back and I didn’t want to lose all of them. For me it was something that was bigger than a company. They meant too much for me to just walk out this door and say goodbye to these plants, so I basically just got cuts and I set up a tent in our garage. I don't grow a lot of weed. I don't take care of a lot of plants all by myself, but I kept a few plants at home. Mainly, with the hopes that Patrick would be somewhere that I could get them out to him, and other people could experience these strains again.”
Nine months later Patrick made his way to work in the Pennsylvania medical program with Parea Biosciences and the ICC x Kush Mintz found its new home. Cared for by Tyler with tap water and living soil in his garage, it’s now on the shelf in PA dispensaries. The “Terpcam Cut” is grown by Parea as Tyler’s ode to PA so that patients can share the same joy it brought to him.
KCRA got our hands on the ICC x Kush Mintz as soon as we could, and we definitely see why Tyler had to save it. These bright green buds will stick to your fingers like candy, with a robust, sweet, creamy, flavor profile and aroma that brings a hint of earthy mint and funk. Its effects are mellow and enjoyable, bringing on soothing relaxation with just the right dose of euphoria.
We asked Tyler if there was anything else he wanted to relay to patients in PA about the collab and he told us, “There was a connection and a story with this cut that I wanted to share with people. It’s about a love for the plant, and that for me cannabis is just fun.”
Check out the Parea x Terpcam Collab with the ICC x Kush Mintz on the shelf at select dispensaries across PA now and follow Tyler on IG @terpcam for a look at his work.