When I started my pet photography business I looked where most of us would for inspiration – other pet photographers. Of course I don’t think there’s a pet photographer on earth who isn’t inspired by the works of the great Elliott Erwitt.
Early on, I had the wonderful opportunity to assist Jim Dratfield while he worked on location here in northern Virginia. It was an outstanding learning experience for me for which I am grateful.
Another early trail-blazer is Amanda Jones. Fifteen years into her animal photography career, she continues to create gorgeous imagery and command rates that only add credibility to pet photography as a profitable niche market.
So, whether you’re already in the pet photography market, or looking to go there, where will you get your inspiration? How will you be different? While I have learned so much from all the early “leaders,” I am also inspired by less obvious influences.
For instance, I love to study some of the amazing wedding shooters out there. Those who are doing really exquisite work transcend all niche markets. They are just awesome, creative artists from whom we can all learn.
In 2008, while attending WPPI in Las Vegas, I discovered Jerry Ghionis. To be honest, I had never heard of him. But when I was strolling through that huge exhibit hall, nearly overwhelmed by sounds and textures and choices, I came upon his booth and was honestly awestruck. I remember saying to him “I don’t know who you are or what you do, but this is magnificent.” I realize now how ridiculous I must have sounded to the many wedding photographers who were crowded around his booth!
Luckily for me I discovered Jerry with one day left on the speaking schedule and I was able to attend his morning lecture. And so I sat, for an hour and a half, sleep deprived, over caffeinated, and truly mesmerized. Jerry was engaging, funny and oh so wonderfully, amazingly talented. After hearing Jerry speak, the one thing I decided to add to my pet shooting repertoire was a video light. Why not? It’s easily portable and different. Even better, it’s something my clients would never think to do.
Since hearing Jerry speak I regularly visit his website and blog for ideas and inspiration. I love that he is so innovative. I say all of this to motivate you to ask yourself, “Who inspires me?” And I suggest, as you build your pet photography business, that you cast a very wide net and look for inspiration beyond other pet photographers. There’s a superb league of photographic visionaries just waiting to inspire you!