How did Learn Pet Photography come about?
I created Learn Pet Photography to address the growing number of photographers and pet photography enthusiasts seeking out knowledge, skills and techniques to help them improve their pet photography.
Recognising people’s desire to learn more about this specialised niche of photography, I released my first e-book, Fetching Photos, in May 2013. Following an excellent response, I started offering in-person, one-on-one mentoring in shooting and editing in June 2013.
I fielded many requests for more information about my editing process so after much through about the best method to teach this, I started creating and sharing video editing tutorials on YouTube in late 2013, with plans to expand and customise this service in the future.
In late 2013, I teamed up with friend and fellow pet photographer Ruth O’Leary from Ruthless Photos in Sydney to develop the Zoomies Pet Photography Workshop, run in Brisbane and Sydney in September 2014.
In June 2014 I released my second e-book. Entitled Dog Shots, it’s a compendium of ideas, tips and tricks for dynamic and creative natural light pet photography.
What's your view of the pet photography industry?
Before I decided to embark on my adventures as a pet photographer in 2007, I carried out some market research. I found there were a couple of studio-based pet photographers, some portrait photographers who offered pet photography as service, but very few specialised pet photographers in my area. I thought I was onto a winner and that I would be booked solid in no time, but in reality, it’s taken nearly eight years to build my business up to the stage it is today. Why so long? Mainly – the lack of awareness that such a thing as pet photography existed.
Starting out, I found myself constantly having to explain what exactly what it was that I did. As soon as I mentioned pets and photography in the same sentence, people had mental images of cute puppies in baskets with flowers on pastel studio backdrops. It was very hard trying to remove this preconcieved idea of what pet photography should be!
In the intervening years and especially with the widespread reach of social media, this very specialised service has received more and more attention. There are now at least twenty dedicated pet photographers, in varying stages of establishing their businesses, in my city.
Despite this, it’s my belief that pet photography still has a long way to go before it’s ingrained into society the way that family portrait photography, wedding photography and even pregnancy and newborn photography now is. There’s definitely a market for it, but so many people still just don’t realise dedicated pet photographers exist.
Why do you teach pet photography shooting and editing?
The best way to help grow this industry is, in my opinion, apply some fertiliser and water it regularly until it blooms into something that just cannot be ignored. By helping each other and sharing our knowledge, photographers will be more likely to produce quality work more quickly, helping the industry grow tall and strong so it’s more visible to the general public. I’d love to see the day where pet photography is recognised as a commonplace service, along with other genres of photography.
Helping people improve their skills and produce consistent, technically correct, quality work is something I’m passionate about. The more high-quality pet images people see, the more likely they are to change their perception of what good pet photography is, take it seriously and consider it as something they desire for themselves. I aim to give photographers a base to start from, so with the addition of own dash of creativity and personal style there’ll be more quality pet photography out there, resulting in a better outlook for the entire industry.
Why give away all your secrets? That's crazy!
Rather than seeing it as training up the competition, I prefer to view it as helping to raise the standard of work of pet photographers everywhere, justifying their ability to charge what they are truly worth much sooner than they normally would if left to discover everything for themselves.
Only when people are charging appropriately for the time, love and creative effort they put into their work does pet phototography work as a long-term career option.
For those not intending to make a full time career out of pet photography, there may be other reasons they wish to improve their pet photography.
I know many people who volunteer at shelters or with rescue organisations, photographing dogs and cats desperately seeking new homes. This is a hugely worthwhile cause and is something I regularly do myself, so I am more than happy to share tips and techniques so these generous volunteers can improve the standard of work they are creating, capturing personalities that will truly speak to potential adopters.
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