Seven years ago, when I started my pet photography business there weren’t a lot of other pet photographers out there. Like anyone interested in this niche field – I scoured the sites and blogs of those industry pioneers and learned a ton. I reached out to many of those established pet photographers during my early years – some were generous with their time, others gently explained they had businesses to run, still others spurned my advances completely. Quite frankly, I understood and respected all of their different approaches.
Now, the pet segment has evolved into a viable stand alone option for photographers. How each of you approach your pet photography business will likely need some time to morph into itself. I can say that most of the photographers who were in business when I began mine have changed their business models since 2006 – dramatically. Some who steadfastly refused to sell digital files, now only offer digital packages. Some, who initially made a good part of their income from workshops have gone to one-on-one mentoring and have left the rigors of workshops behind. I have become more and more focused about the type of client I will take and how I will shoot.
Nothing in this post is about the “right” approach for you. It will depend in part on so many things- how much money do you need to make? Can you leave your full-time job? Do you want to? If you can afford to leave your job for a full-time pet photography career are you comfortable with the inconsistent income? How many sessions are you capable of shooting in a week? Are you interested in studio work? Location only? What is the weather like where you live? Can you really shoot location year-round? Off-camera flash outdoors – interested? Have you thought about your style? Your target market? Are you willing to enter other markets such as maternity and children to supplement your slow pet time? Do you have a partner? If so, is he/she supportive and understanding about booking shoots mainly on weekends, mainly at dusk to maximize that great light?
So many questions! Most seem to not have a thing to do with pet photography. But finding the answers to the above questions (and more) is what helped me see that a complete re-work of my business model was in order if I was to stay sane, happy, and profitable.
It’s a wonderful, rewarding field. One where we are able to use our gifts to provide beautiful art to our clients of their respected family members. But before you order that new lens or latest memory-gobbling DSLR you’ve had your eye on – I suggest you step back and let these questions tumble about in your mind. Don’t get overwhelmed – remember there is no “right” answer – just an answer that’s right for you.
Oh, and by the way, we don’t just shoot dogs at our Unleashed Workshops – we help you get some focused answers to all of these questions. In fact, we insist on it! Hope to see ya’ll in Dallas!