Most animal lovers will agree, having professional portraits taken of their pets is often a source of pride. Unfortunately, the pets often demonstrate less enthusiasm over the ordeal than their owners. It is quite uncanny how many animals know when they are being set-up to have their picture taken. Some pets can be trained to sit still for quite some time, but introduce a camera and it is game-off. At least this is how it often is with my pets. The reality is many people find it difficult to take exceptional photographs of their own pets. For those who have patience, a love for animals, and who are allergy-free, pet photography may offer an excellent opportunity to extend their photographic niche.
When considering developing a niche in pet photography, the mobile studio may be your best solution. Many animals do not perform well when they are introduced to new environments. This is not to say you should not extend the service to your personal studio, but animals are usually more cooperative in familiar surroundings. Mobile studios offer greater flexibility for the pet owners as well. By offering a mobile setting, you do not restrict your functional studio to indoor shots. Owners often like to have action shots of their pets, which is not conducive to an indoor studio. A simple mobile kit consisting of strobes, reflectors, and props enable the photographer to offer much more flexibility to the customer, which, in turn, means happier customers and more referrals.
Photographing pets requires a fair amount of preparation before the shoot. When speaking with the pet owners, it is important to understand what the pet has in mind. A majority of animals are most active in the early morning hours. If action shots are on the agenda, then morning shots may be the best opportunity to capture the flying saucer catch in mid air. If passive or more shots are on the agenda, then an evening visit may be a better alternative.
The owner should be advised to bathe and groom their pets before you arrive. It never fails, kids and pets are famous for managing to find the deepest, wettest mud hole just minutes before their photographic debut. If the owner is not satisfied with the way their pet looks, then your photographs will not be as well received. Again, flexibility and patience is a well valued virtue when working with animals. Don’t be upset if you are asked to return at another time when the owner is more receptive to the session conditions.
Since pets may become unpredictable and non-compliant, some post production work may be necessary to enhance the photographs. Usually, some minor cropping, color correction and level balancing is enough to enhance the shot. Other times, it may be necessary to add or remove certain elements, such as removing grass blades caught in fur, correcting eye stains, whitening teeth, removing evidence from reward treats, or removing stray hairs. For those times when the pet owner is included in the shot, careful attention should be paid to the person’s clothing for soil marks, stray hair, a little Gaussian Blur may be applied, and blemishes and scratches can be easily removed before final print.
Photographing pets can be very rewarding and quite lucrative, but it is not for everyone. The photographer must remain flexible and patient. If you are considering becoming a professional pet photographer, there is no telling where you may end up. One day you may be at the park and another day in a horse barn. If you have an apprehension toward animals, you may not be well suited for this niche; animals detect apprehension and you will not be well received. However, if you have what it takes to be a pet photographer, then this may be a perfect opportunity for you to start your photography business in your community.