I was recently interviewed for a new online magazine and the reporter wanted 5 quick tips for choosing a pet photographer. (Or perhaps it was tips for choosing a photographer in general, but that was too broad of a subject!) As I was writing it, I thought it might make a good blog post, especially since my first draft was more advice than just quick tips. I know my fellow photographers have written similar posts, but I did not look at them before writing this. (I promise! There was no cheating!)
I would love to know what my clients were looking for when they found out about Fetchlight, please let me know in the comments below!
Here are five tips for choosing the right pet photographer for you. Let’s assume you’ve already seen the photographer’s photos and you like their style.
1. Decide whether or not you want people in the photos with your pets. Choose your photographer accordingly. Photographers specializing in people may be the best choice if you decide what you really want is a family portrait, especially if there is more than one person in the photos. People are usually much more critical of their own appearances than of their pet’s appearance, so make sure your photog is using lighting, angles and poses that are the most flattering to you, the human. (BTW, there are exceptions to this general rule, such as my friend Allison, who I refer people to when they decide they want to be in the photos.) I don’t include people in my photography (except for commercial work for businesses), because I believe that pets by themselves make much more interesting and modern wall art for your home, the goal for my sessions.
2. Think about why you want the photo session of your pet…what do you want to do with the photos? Choose a photographer who specializes in producing that product. If you just want fun photos of your dog or cat for Facebook and for viewing on your phone and computer, or for a Christmas card that will be thrown away after the holidays, then that Groupon you’ve been eyeing may not be not a terrible idea. If you want the photography to hang in your home alongside your other art, you should think about investing more. Make sure you see the printed work of the photographers you are interested in before booking a session. Check out their website and see where they have their work hanging in public, or what events they will have a booth/display at next, or make sure there is an in-person consultation meeting before the photo session where you can view the printed products.
And here is a special note about “the disc” or USB drive of images from the whole session that you might think you want because then you don’t have to decide on your favorite images: What are you going to do with that disc? Think about it carefully before using “the disc” as part of your search for a photographer. Research shows that you will most likely look through it once or twice, maybe upload some to Facebook, then you will probably store it in a drawer for years before viewing the photos again. How happy will that disc in a drawer make you, versus how happy will it make you every day when you see the printed images of your pet on your wall as artwork?
3. Make sure the photographer acts professional about their business, and also think about if you will enjoy working with them (their personality). Are they prompt to answer your questions and respond to you, do they have a reputation of being easy to work with and making clients happy? Sometimes personalities don’t click, and you will be spending a lot of time with the photographer, or at least in correspondence with them, so be sure to find someone you connect with. And if you make sure that photographer is set up legally as a business, and is not just a person with a nice camera, it is more likely that they will follow through and deliver the results that you are promised. This is good advice for hiring any professional, but may be overlooked in the more creative industries like photography.
4. Consider your pet’s personality. Are they shy and uncomfortable away from home? If so, studio photographers may not be the best choice, they may not be able to capture your pet’s true personality. Look for an on-location/lifestyle photographer who can come to your home and/or where your pets are the most comfortable, places they are familiar with, so their personalities can shine through in the finished photographs.
5. Consider your pet’s age. If you want lasting memories of your pet as a puppy and kitten, think about investing more than just a Groupon or the deal of the day that catches your attention. They are only young once, and their appearance changes very rapidly for their first year. If your pet is a senior and you haven’t had a professional photo session before, think about investing more time and money, while you still have time. This is not something I usually mention in my blog or marketing, because I try to keep everything positive and happy, but it is heartbreaking to hear people tell me that they wished they would have had a photo session for their previous pets.
Of course, there are many other things you should consider, but I hope the above tips help you narrow down the choices and that these tips make your decision easier!