Pet photography is an exciting and rewarding niche that you can pursue if you have a passion for animals and have a knack for taking a great photo.
As a pet photographer, you get to interact with beloved furry companions and their adoring owners, documenting their unique personalities.
Here are some tips on how to become a pet photographer:
Develop your photography skills
The first step towards becoming a successful pet photographer is to refine your photography skills. This involves understanding the fundamental principles of photography, such as composition, lighting and exposure. Familiarise yourself with the settings and features of your camera, and practice taking photos of various subjects in various locations and lighting conditions.
Take time to research and study different styles of pet photography, from classic pet portraits to action shots, lifestyle photography, and candid captures. You can also attend photography workshops, read photography books, and watch online tutorials to learn from other professionals and hone your craft.
Understand animal behaviour
One of the most critical aspects of pet photography is understanding animal behaviour. You need to be able to read the animal’s body language, anticipate their movements, and adapt to their behaviour to capture the best images. This means spending time with different animals, observing their behaviours, and learning how to work with different personalities and temperaments.
Additionally, you should familiarise yourself with animal safety and etiquette, both for your safety and that of the animal. For instance, you should never approach a new animal boisterously, avoid using flash, avoid loud noises that might scare them, and avoid overwhelming an animal with too much attention. It’s a sensible idea also to get a pet owners’ consent or written permission before you photograph their pets. Most owners won’t have a problem with doing this.
Build a portfolio
To attract clients and showcase your work, it’s important to build a portfolio of your best pet photography images. Your portfolio should include a variety of pet types, breeds, and settings to demonstrate your skills and versatility. You can even choose specific themes such as holidays or seasons if you’d like.
Be sure to select high quality, sharp, and well-lit photos that capture the animal’s unique personality. Consider different ways to display your portfolio – on a website, a social media platform, or in a printed format such as a book or brochure.
Market your business
Once you have a portfolio, it’s time to market your pet photography business. Social media can be a powerful tool to help you reach a large number of people quickly and efficiently. You can create a business page on Facebook or Instagram; showcase your work, and where you’ll be shooting next.
You can network with animal shelters, pet boutiques, and pet-oriented companies in your area, and offer discounts or partnerships in exchange for promotion.
Speaking of social media, it’s also important to engage with your followers and clients. Respond to comments and messages, share behind-the-scenes shots, and build a community around your brand.
Price your services
Pricing your pet photography services can be daunting, this includes factoring in the cost of your equipment, time, and expertise. You can research what other pet photographers are charging to get an idea of what to charge clients.
It’s essential to set a rate that reflects the value of your work and time. You can offer a few different service packages to give clients options and the ability to customise their experience.
Constantly improve your skills
Becoming a pet photographer requires dedication, practice, and a willingness to constantly learn and improve. Attend workshops relevant to your area of interest to learn new technical or creative skills in pet photography. Read articles and find online tutorials to improve your photography skills.
Shoot, shoot, shoot! Nothing improves skills like regular actions that help to create muscle memory and prepare a photographer for any situation that may arise.
Get feedback from fellow photographers and those who are appreciative of your work. Always try out new tricks and ideas, and most importantly, persistently work on your art with passion and creativity.
Assist photographers and work for free
Work for free and assist other photographers. Offering free shoots is a great way to experiment and try out new ideas without the fear of the client being unhappy. Most clients will be over the moon to receive a free shoot and maybe a few prints. You can test out ideas and methods that you might not want to risk on a paid shoot.
In your early days of starting a business, assisting other professional pet photographers is a great way to see how others work and what you can perhaps do (or not do!!). You may just be carrying bags or holding light stands and reflectors but it’s a great way of absorbing information and valuable tips on how to deal with clients and their pets.
Build a network
Working as a freelance pet photographer can be a lonely business at times, when you’re not out having fun with the dogs, so it’s important to either create or get involved with a peer group or create a network group of like minded photographers or small business owners.
There are numerous pet photographer Facebook groups which offer support, advice and feedback as well as several dedicated resources such as annual photography competitions and podcasts, including the Pet Photographers Club which was created by a Melbourne pet photographer.
Becoming a pet photographer requires dedication, a willingness to learn and practice, and a love for animals. It requires you to understand animal behaviour, have good marketing skills, strong business acumen, and constant practice to improve your skills. With passion, perseverance and consistent commitment, pet photography can be a rewarding career, side hustle or hobby that would allow you to create lasting memories for people and their furry friends alike.