Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Hi there, I'm Emily and I'm a professional pet photographer in Maine and Boston! I work with dogs, cats, horses, and many other small animals to create fun, quirky, timeless, and completely endearing portraits of your furry friends. Read on to learn more about why a professional pet photographer is important when working with your baby, and how to find the right one (or you could just get in touch with me via my contact form).
FINDING THE RIGHT PET PHOTOGRAPHER
If you are reading this, you probably love your pet a lot and would like to integrate them into your home in a more permanent way. You have family portraits, but what about pet portraits? We all know that animals have a relatively short life-span compared to humans, and it's absolutely devastating when they leave us. Being prepared by investing in quality pet portraiture early in their lives will ensure that they have a prominent place in your home for generations.
After you decide that you want to find a pet photographer, the trouble becomes finding one! Sure, there are tons of photographers and tons of people with cameras, but just like you need a specialty photographer for newborns, you need a specialty photographer for pets as well.
Why? Well, because just like newborns, pets can't speak with words, so they use their behaviors in very small ways to communicate their feelings. If you're working with an untrained photographer who isn't experienced with animals and who may not even be comfortable with them, then you risk having a really bad experience for your pet, and maybe even you. What if your pet is showing signs of being uncomfortable, but the photographer doesn't notice and your pet escalates?
A pet photographer will have the ability to be patient and get on the pet's level so they can get a portrait that truly represents their calm and relaxed personality.
I know you have some questions about Pet Portraits, so here are some expectations and things you should look for to make sure whoever you take your loved one to is the best option for your furry (or scaly) baby!
DO THEY SPECIALIZE IN PET PHOTOGRAPHY?
This is sort of a two-part question. First, you'll want to make sure the photographer has the skills and patience (and experience!) necessary to deal with animals. Even if someone has pets of their own, dog breeds are all very different, and a rescue pet is very different from one that's been bred. Your photographer will need to have the skills to work with animals no matter their temperament. Horses are particularly touchy as they can easily get startled by equipment and noises - your photographer will also need to know enough about horses to capture them when they're looking curious and engaged.
Second, you'll want to ask how much of their business is actual pet photography. If someone mainly works other genres, and occasionally has a pet show up, they probably aren’t as specialized in pet photography as you may think. Typically, a pet photographer will work exclusively with animals, or work half and half – half animals, half other type of portraiture. Use your judgment, but the more someone works with animals, particularly in controlled environments like a studio or with off-leash animals, the more likely they are to be able to work safely and efficiently with yours.
ASK ABOUT STUDIO SPACE
Is their studio dog friendly? Is it quiet, calm, and free from distractions? What types of pets do you accept in studio? There are many animals that can’t make a trip into the studio such as larger animals like horses, but even your own pets might not be comfortable making that trip. Ask the photographers about their willingness to travel to a location or an in-home session to keep your pet at ease (this is common for cats). If they can travel to your house, make sure that their style will fall in line with what you are looking for. Are you looking for more lifestyle type pictures, or studio quality pictures while in your home; and can your photographer accommodate what you’re looking for?
Here at Elusive Photography, I have a pet-friendly studio and accept most animals unless there are severe behavioral issues. Even cats do well in my studio because I bring them in for a consultation and let them roam around to get comfortable with the space. This way, when they come back for their portraits, they're nice and relaxed. I do work on location when there's more than one cat, when I'm working with horses, and even for other families who would just prefer a lifestyle session.
I'll be honest, I'm super frightened by birds and other animals who scurry away quickly and unpredictably (I don't like things that I can't predict or that move so fast that they can get me unexpectedly), but I've worked with many of these animals before and have created really fun and personality-filled portraits. This is an area where openness and communication are important, because everyone has fears, but they might not be able to express what those are. Take a look at Matilda (the bearded dragon), she was really quick and kept making me jump in fear, but we built a little house around the area where I was shooting so she couldn't leave and so she also felt safe in her environment.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD PET PORTRAIT?
Photographers tend to have a very distinct shooting style, and their pet photography should show this really well. You should find a photographer who is established and consistent, and who is passionate about achieving a great portrait. For instance, I love quirky pet expressions because of their ability to make the humans happy. I also love a strong, timeless painterly portrait that brings out the royalty and importance of your pet. In my mind, pet portraiture serves two purposes – to brighten our homes, and create rich artwork for our homes. Who wants a painting of cows from Target that a million other people have when you could have your own beloved pet? That is why I photograph the way I do: I imagine these images hanging as a statement piece in your home and wowing all who view them.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS IF I HAVE MULTIPLE PETS?
Most pet photographers have different multiple pet policies, and it varies even further depending on what kind of session you want. Can they accommodate all your pets at once, or will you need multiple sessions? Can all of your pets follow direction, and if they can’t, is your photographer knowledgeable on how to get the perfect portrait with multiples? You can always ask to view your photographer’s portfolio and ask specifically for examples of multiple animals.
WHEN WILL I GET TO SEE FINAL IMAGES?
Most photographers require a week to four weeks to edit and finish their images. At Elusive Photography, we offer same day turnaround and an in-person reveal and ordering session! We’ve capitalized on our experience and are able to pass on the benefits of such to you. We are able to offer a fully edited and finished presentation of your fur babies after just a few short hours! This speaks wonders to our expertise in photographing pets and working with our studio equipment with your pets. If you're on a tight timeline or if you're just really excited and can't wait, this is an important question to ask! Our same-day turnaround is a MAJOR perk that very few photographers have the ability to offer, so get in touch if this is something you'd love to experience.
WHAT PACKAGES ARE AVAILABLE, AND WHAT IS A LA CARTE?
It is important to know what kind of financial investment you’ll make, and what that investment will look like. Photographers use different sales methods ranging from a la carte sales to packages that include the kitchen sink. You want to be sure you are getting exactly what you want, and asking what the photographer offers is an important step.
At Elusive Photography, I don’t offer packages, but sell completely a la carte. This is because individual photography needs are so different, and packages don’t always fit what each family needs or wants – I prefer that clients buy only what fits them! I work hand in hand with you to custom design the session to your needs, which often means understanding the art you want to create before the session. If you’d like an album, then I will shoot differently than if you’d like a big statement piece in your home. I offer top of the line wall art including Canvases and Framed Prints, and wonderful Fine Art Albums and Print Boxes. View the products on my website or schedule a consultation to see them in person! Clients tend to invest 2000+ for art, and this earns them complimentary digital images!
Now that you've read through the important steps of choosing a pet photographer, get to looking for one for your own fur baby! Procrastinating pet portraits is just the same as procrastinating family portraits - you intend to capture your young and silly kids, and by the time you get around to it, they're teenagers. Don't let that happen to you and your loved ones. If you think we'll be a good match, then get in touch and let's meet!
Have you ever gotten professional portraits of your family pets? I would love to see them, and hear about your experience! Did these questions push you decide to get those pet portraits done? Let me know in the comments below!