So you’ve decided you want to become a pet photographer. This could be a very good career choice, just be aware that there are a number of skills necessary to making a living photographing pets, the most important being a good eye for photography.
Most pet photographers have a background in the arts or photography, perhaps photographing human portraits. Many were involved in the arts in college or high school, although you can get into this challenging and rewarding career field at any age. You’ll need to know your way around a digital camera, of course, and be able to operate photo imaging software such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
So why are people interested in having their pets professionally photographed in the first place? Well there are two main reasons. The first and most obvious reason is because people love their pets.
To many people, their pets are members of the family, and so they want to have photographs of them just like any other family member. And the second reason is they want a memento of their beloved pet once the animal passes away.
It’s a sad fact that animals just don’t live as long as people, and so they’re often here and gone before you know it. A portrait of a favorite cat or dog can be a treasured reminder of that time in a person’s life, and the wonderful experiences they had with their pet.
So the demand for pet photographers should be strong well into the future. And while learning this rewarding career and starting your own business is easier than you might think, you’ll need to take some important steps in order to get there. The first one is learning how to shoot a well framed, professional-quality portrait.
One way to start is by practicing on your own pet, or a friend or family member’s. Practice getting the animal to stay put, and looking toward the camera.
Having some dog or cat treats around is always a good way to get their attention, as well as some favorite toys. And remember that patience is a virtue in this business, because you may have to take dozens of shots before you get just the right one.
It goes without saying that a pet photographer should love working with animals, and have some basic understanding of animal behavior.
Many pet owners want candid shots of their animals, so you’ll have to be creative and flexible in getting the pet to behave a certain way. A dog and cat playing together, for example, or a dog sitting up on its hind legs with a quizzical expression on its face.
Some pet photographers only work out of their own studio, while others travel to the client’s home to take the portraits in familiar surroundings. Another option is to take the animal to a nearby park to shoot – just be aware that there are many distractions, and it may be harder to get the pet to pose or behave the way you want them to.
You will need to invest in some quality equipment in order to photograph pets professionally. A digital SLR is a must, along with a set of top quality lenses. You’ll probably want a backup camera as well in case of an unexpected problem. Other equipment includes several backdrops and a set of studio lights, and pet props and toys.
Business and marketing skills are also necessary for a successful pet photography business. You’ll need to advertise and get the word out, and put together a portfolio to show prospective clients. Some photographers also have working arrangements with doggie day care or pet shop owners to refer clients back and forth, as a service to their clients.