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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Pets Talk
Thread started 15 Mar 2016 (Tuesday) 15:53
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Pet Photgraphy as a Business?

 
Zipline
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Mar 15, 2016 15:53 |  #1

I’ve been a hobbyist photographer for several years now and I’m thinking of taking it to the next level by starting a pet photography business. I know it won’t be easy. I know it will be stressful. I also know that it could end up being a very rewarding business.

I’m in the research phase right now. I’m trying to learn more about how to run a business such as this, how to advertise, what kind of work (and I’m expecting a lot of work) goes on behind the scenes, etc and am hoping some of you might be able to shed some light for me with your own experiences.

To keep it simple, my questions are numbered below…

1. My usual photography is focused on nature and wildlife (mainly whales). I’ve never sold my photos so starting a business is a rather scary, but exciting thought. What kind of legalities am I looking at? Do I need to hire a lawyer to go over everything. I’m mainly worried about the taxes side of things.

2. Do you do your own printing at home and bring samples to your clients to purchase or do you work exclusively online where your customers order at their leisure where the printing is done by a 3rd party?

3. When it comes to have a pet shoot, do you try to have to the dog pose for the camera or do you prefer more candid shots? I’m guessing this would be more of a personal preference thing based on the photographer and what the client is looking for. I’m just trying to get a feel for what goes on during a normal shoot. One of my big concerns is that I'm not creative enough to come up with prop ideas and cute themed photos, etc. I worry about how and what I'd be photographing for 1-5 - 2 hours at a time.

4. When I think of doing pet photography it’s mainly dogs and horses that I’d like to work with. I would absolute LOVE to expand and photograph dog agility events, conformation shows, etc and horse events as well. Do the legalities as far as who can photograph these events vary from venue to venue or is it an everyone is welcome kind of thing?

5. How does one find out if their area would be a suitable market for this type of photography? I did look around and saw a few other photographers within range of me, but I don’t know how successful they are. It seems rude of me to just email them out of the blue and ask “how’s business?” if that makes sense.

I’m sure I’ll come up with more questions the more I learn, but would love any other pointers from you as well. Thanks in advance! :)


- Mandy
> Bodies: Canon Rebel 300D, XTi, and T3i
> Lenses: Kit Lens, Canon 75-300mm & 55-250mm lenses
> Check out my new site @ Hypnotized by Natureexternal link

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ksbal
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Post has been last edited over 1 year ago by ksbal. 4 edits done in total.
Mar 15, 2016 16:37 |  #2

2. Online didn't work for me. I don't shoot on spec anymore. People sign up with me ahead of time, and my display gives them confidence I can get the job done. I love doing events, I thrive in that environment.

3. It is Dog/critter driven. I have them pose, but you have to know how to work with the client and the dog, and what will get the dogs attention to get the shot. My last dog portrait session was less than 30 minutes for two dogs, start to finish, but I have one coming up in April that will be several hours, inside studio and outside candids. I plan the shots, and do what it takes to get them, and just like tiny kids, you have a short window sometimes and you have to quit and set up a next time if you can, or call it good enough.

4. If those are your love and passion.. then learn how to photograph them properly first, and then get into the biz. Do you own/ride/train horses? do you understand horse psychology? How about dogs? For both, different poses are required for different breeds, do you know how to set them up properly? use a lens that will make them look their best? and be able to get their attention at the critical moment to 'get the shot'?

I made a long blog post about horse portraits in response to a great question, read it here.

5. I never bothered to ask others about their version on the 'market'. I set about creating my own. When I can do shots the customer can't get with their camera phone, and they know and remember me.... I win.

This isn't something you can walk into a show the next weekend and start making money with no portfolio. Examples of your work... Large examples...Of the subject you wish to sell at... will make the difference between 2 sales and 20 sales.

As far as if it is an everyone is welcome thing.. well, you have to get a hold of the show secretary, or vendor contact and find out ahead of time. Rules vary from show to show, independent of pet or breed.

Please, please, learn the craft first. Can you take a shot on manual on your camera? set the exposure and white balance? Practice, practice, practice on your own critters and friends before setting out the sign and taking pictures. Then Post, Post, Post for critique.

Personally, I fall down on the business side of things.. I'm still working thru that.. but I started where I knew my subject best first... western horses, learned the craft and I've expanded from there.

Check out my gallery. If you can duplicate my work with both flash and natural light, you will do well, no matter where you are. Good enough for side income, but as for full time, that depends on many things.


YN622 English User Guide/Manual by Clive
https://drive.google.c​om ...Ig0gMMzZFaDVlZ1VNTE​0/view (external link)

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Zipline
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Mar 16, 2016 07:15 |  #3

Thanks for the great info! Believe me when I say I'm not rushing into this. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. I'm giving myself at least a year if not two to really start. That'll give me time to get some more practice in and figure things out the things that I need to know. I do already practice a LOT with my own dogs, but I know of a few areas that I need improvements on already. Shooting in very low light, shooting my one dog who is white without blowing out his fur color (I've already improved hugely on that), just to name a couple. As for shooting in Manual, I'm getting there. I tend to want to photograph in aperature mode, but I'm trying to learn more about my camera and photography in general. I can set white balance, change lenses, etc without any issues at all.

The part where you say you plan the shots, I think that's where my confusion and worry is kicking in. Would you mind being more specific on that point? When you say you plan is it mainly based on your conversation with the owner? My fear is that I may not be creative enough to come up with a plan on which shots to take. When I photograph my own dogs I mainly just wing it and photograph them as they do their thing outside. Every now and then I'll call their names or make a noise to get their attention, but I never really have a plan.

I've always had a love for horses. I grew up around them. Taking care of them, riding, etc, but that was YEARS ago. The last time I touched a horse was probably about 15 years or so ago. I do understand them and their body signs, etc. Same as dogs. I'm very in tuned with my dogs and can pick up on body language on "stranger" dogs pretty well too. I will definitely check out your blog post and gallery later on tonight.

In regards to the show thing, my thought process was if I could speak to whoever I need to in order to get approval to photograph, the first several times would be just for practice until I feel confident (this type of photography would be very new to me so I know I need practice for that). At which point I should have decent shots to make a portfolio together. THEN I'd be able to start working with clients and trying to sell. As excited as I am about this I know there are steps to take and I have no problem at all with working my way up. I just need to find the right path to do it.


- Mandy
> Bodies: Canon Rebel 300D, XTi, and T3i
> Lenses: Kit Lens, Canon 75-300mm & 55-250mm lenses
> Check out my new site @ Hypnotized by Natureexternal link

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ksbal
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Mar 16, 2016 08:26 as a reply to Zipline's post |  #4

Sounds like a great plan.

For posing, both dogs and horses, I see what we can get them to do first, and then adjust to what will look the best for them. it's really hard to do this all by yourself, so practicing with an owner is important.

*for me* there is an audible 'click' in my head when I know I have the right look.. it's always been that way for me, and I work with the critter until that goes off. Some horses I get that click in one take, sometimes Im into it for 20 or 30 frames before it clicks... it is a composition thing as well as the ears/eyes/head in the right position thing. Learning the basics, getting them nailed down is key, then the creativity comes when all the other stuff is second nature. I think trying to throw the props and etc.. in there before learning how to get the expression may complicate things.

In all honesty.. learning to pose and light people helped tremendously.. they don't run around and move on you when you need them to be still :)


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RPCrowe
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Post has been edited over 1 year ago by RPCrowe.
May 18, 2016 13:48 |  #5

I want to share with you the absolute best setup for dog portraiture that I have ever seen.

This was at a California A.K.C. dog show.

The vendor was set up in canopy shade with three sides enclosed. He had the posing area at the rear with several studio strobes in shoot through umbrellas.

The posing could be done on the ground for larger dogs and on two tables of different size and heights for smaller dogs. He had several backgrounds and fabric covers for the tables so that he would have the right color for any dog.

His helper had a large laptop computer which was tethered to the camera.

They would shoot the pictures, show the customer the images on the laptop screen and then the customer would choose the images and decide the number and size prints wanted.

A printer was hooked up to the computer and the assistant would print the images right there and accept payment.

They would also give (as part of the initial sitting price) a proof sheet of the images from which the customer could order more prints...

BTW: it can be expensive to get a vendor permit for a dog show and competing with the "official" photographer is frowned upon. A photographer can be ejected from a show if he/she tries to sell his images.

Taxing and business licensing is a local and state matter and varies with locality...

Of course, you also have the Feds to deal with on April 15th...


See my images at http://rpcrowe.smugmug​.com/ (external link)

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scorpio_e
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Feb 21, 2017 11:53 |  #6

How is the business going?


www.steelcityphotograp​hy.com (external link)

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scorpio_e
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Mar 02, 2017 06:03 |  #7

The website is down so I suspect not that great.


www.steelcityphotograp​hy.com (external link)

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bigVinnie
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Mar 08, 2017 00:38 |  #8

It's a tough business for sure.

I recently worked a regional dog show. I was not doing photography but did get a chance to meet a vendor who was. She was very good. Had a very well setup portable studio she had setup there. The event was a week long and I saw very few people use her services. I doubt she made much a the show.


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scorpio_e
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Post has been edited 8 months ago by scorpio_e.
Mar 08, 2017 14:04 |  #9

bigVinnie wrote in post #18295012 (external link)
It's a tough business for sure.

I recently worked a regional dog show. I was not doing photography but did get a chance to meet a vendor who was. She was very good. Had a very well setup portable studio she had setup there. The event was a week long and I saw very few people use her services. I doubt she made much a the show.


I was at a dog show. The guy had a backdrop and a few AB's set up. He had the customers lined up. So he was busy.. Guess it depends on the market.


www.steelcityphotograp​hy.com (external link)

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EOS-Mike
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Post has been edited 8 months ago by EOS-Mike.
Mar 08, 2017 20:09 |  #10

My wife owns a pet sitting business, and she has many clients and a few employees. There is always more business than she can handle, especially when the schools let out on breaks. She's been telling me for a couple years how much people want pet portraits. But I don't want to do it. I burned out on pro photography (did it part time for a few years, mostly senior pictures, proms, stuff like that). The opportunity (pets) seems good for those who are interested.

So my advice, for what it's worth, is to find someone who does in-house pet sitting and see if you can work with them. The pet sitters usually have a very good relationship with customers and (if they are like my wife and her employees) are friends with the clients.

I'm always shocked by what people are willing to spend on their pets. My wife sometimes sends employees out three times a day at twenty bucks a visit. I'm like, "Sixty bucks a day for pet sitting?" But people pay it. If they're that crazy about their pets, perhaps a couple hundred bucks for photos is no big deal.


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scorpio_e
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Mar 08, 2017 20:38 |  #11

EOS-Mike wrote in post #18295825 (external link)
My wife owns a pet sitting business, and she has many clients and a few employees. There is always more business than she can handle, especially when the schools let out on breaks. She's been telling me for a couple years how much people want pet portraits. But I don't want to do it. I burned out on pro photography (did it part time for a few years, mostly senior pictures, proms, stuff like that). The opportunity (pets) seems good for those who are interested.

So my advice, for what it's worth, is to find someone who does in-house pet sitting and see if you can work with them. The pet sitters usually have a very good relationship with customers and (if they are like my wife and her employees) are friends with the clients.

I'm always shocked by what people are willing to spend on their pets. My wife sometimes sends employees out three times a day at twenty bucks a visit. I'm like, "Sixty bucks a day for pet sitting?" But people pay it. If they're that crazy about their pets, perhaps a couple hundred bucks for photos is no big deal.


I thought a pet sitter might be a good way to network and get business :)


www.steelcityphotograp​hy.com (external link)

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foxhound
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Apr 13, 2017 05:58 |  #12

Most of the dog shows are already sewn up, and there's very little chance of getting into that market, if you can it's very lucrative and you don't have to be that good, I live and show in Canada and the standard of photography and post processing at CKC shows is shocking!! But it seems to be dominated by a 3 or 4 guys here in Ontario.
As for horse shows ! Well there's a bucket of worms lol!!! You can sit all day in the baking sun or pouring rain from 7:00 in the morning till dark, try getting money out of horsey people is like getting blood out of a stone, (and I'm both a horse and dog person) they'd rather screenshot or rip it off you website than pay for it, if i were you I'd stick to pet people and their "furbabies" it's a much more civilzes clientele ߘ Not to be a downer just keeping it real! Good luck


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RDKirk
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Apr 13, 2017 08:29 |  #13

I know a couple of portrait photographers who have moved into the pet portrait business. It's proving to be extremely lucrative, powered by well-off individuals and couples who have pets instead of children.

These pet portraits are the full-blown job, using all the posing, setting, and lighting skills of high-end child portraiture. And they command the same prices, sittings and final purchases in the thousands.




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