A Letter to Santa. Six seats left for the Unleashed Workshop in January 2014

Dear Santa,

I know I wanted new photo equipment for Christmas but I’m starting to have second thoughts.  I’m thinking maybe I need to really learn to use the equipment I already own….. and I’d love to meet some other photographers and find out which lenses they use for what kind of shots. I want to make some new friends that are as crazy about dogs and cameras as I am. And while I’m at it, I think I’d like to try some new shots….. with some different types of dogs. My dogs are getting a little tired of modeling, you know what I mean? 

And I’d really like to find out how to make a little money at this. You know — since I’ve invested a ton in all this equipment. And what about setting up a website? And advertising?  Do I really want to spend money on advertising?  And what should I charge? Everyone wants me to photograph their pets for free but I think I should be charging SOMETHING, right? 

Okay, Santa. I think what I really need is The Unleashed Workshop.  Can you help?

Thanks. 

P.S. And could you please do it right now? They only have six seats left!

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Registration now open for Unleashed in Dallas : January 18-20, 2014

The dates are final, Robin at Good Dog Fetch is lining up some awesome models, the hotel is a go — all we need is you!  We’ll have a full day of business and marketing, a full day of outdoor and natural light shooting and a full day of studio shooting with two instructors. The agenda is posted on this site, as well as information about the hotel. Email us via the contact page of this site and we’ll send you a registration packet.  We are limited to 15 participants, so don’t delay!

Unleashed pet photography workshops
Harper and the PUParazzi at Unleashed

Lenses: What Do You Need?

As we review our curriculum for Unleashed VA we often look over our “most asked questions” list.  Lens choice is always on that list. Especially for photographers who are just entering the pet photography market.

Through the years I’ve found that I have 1-3 “foundation” lenses.  Those that, if every other thing in my bag malfunctioned, was lost or stolen, I could complete a session, give the client depth and variety, and still expect a good sale.

Those lenses will differ for everybody -depending on your style, whether you’re a studio shooter or location photographer, and your client base.

For me, my go to lenses are the Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8, Nikkor 85mm 1.4 and the Nikkor 17-35mm 2.8. These are my “base” lenses. If I wasn’t shooting pets I probably wouldn’t use the 17-35mm but it’s the perfect lens for “hip-shooting” and while I’ve found that style isn’t necessarily a big seller for me, it allows me to deliver a really well rounded and thorough session.

Please note, all of my lenses are FIXED APERTURES! I’d rather see you save for a fixed aperture lens rather than buy less expensive variable aperture lenses just to round out your kit.  You can do a lot with a 50 mm 1.4 lens!

After the set of base lenses I think it’s up to you. Give it some time. Develop your style and see what you like to shoot. And what your clients like to buy.  I’ve bought and sold many lenses through the years. Sometimes I’d try a lens because I liked a certain look, only to find my clients weren’t as enamored as I was. Sometimes I tried a lens, such as a perspective control or “tilt-shift” to find it really fit my style and added a touch of uniqueness to images I delivered.

The good news about quality lenses – you can sell them! I bought a fish-eye lens years ago because I liked the quirky distortion the lens rendered. I found, while it made my clients laugh, my client base, known for purchasing large fine art canvases, wasn’t really buying these shots.  So, I sold it for about 90% of what I paid.

Of course, renting is always a great way to go. Many Unleashed attendees rent a specific lens for the workshop. What a great way to try out a lens and get some great shots in the meantime!

Wherever you are in your pet photography path I recommend you go slowly, develop your style, and build a kit of quality lenses that will help you be a better photographer.

Below is one of my images, shot with that fish-eye that left my bag about 8 months after I purchased it!

June Bride
June Bride

 

We’re SO excited for September’s Unleashed!!

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If you’re looking for a program that cuts through all the fluff, gets down to what it really takes to succeed in the genre of pet photography, and gives you TONS of shooting time – you won’t want to miss Dallas in September.

Our program is fast paced and action packed – bring your running shoes! (And camera gear!)

See you in September!

 

Why Unleashed? | Join us Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2012

When Unleashed began in 2009 there weren’t many options for learning fine art pet photography. What was obvious was the lack of professionalism and the real need for in-depth training for pet photographers.  We continue to have the most thorough, in-depth business training of any pet photography workshop available –and we have two instructors with very different styles and approaches. So some of you may lean in one direction or the other, but beware… keeping an open mind and learning a different approach may just be what sets you apart from your competition!

Bev Hollis is known all over the country for her gorgeous outdoor dog portraits and dreamy, dramatic lighting. She was recently featured in  Country Woman magazine and her dog portraits have been published in the Workman calendars, Nova Dog magazine and are on display in many private collections. Her studio in the Washington DC area consistently racks up big sales for high profile clients.

Teresa Berg is known nationally for her studio work and warm, crisp, detailed images of dogs and their people. She was recently profiled by Steve Hartman for CBS Sunday Morning, has done live interviews on Martha Stewart Living radio and BBC live in London.  She was recently featured in Country Living Magazine, Guideposts and The Today Show online for her work photographing rescue dogs. She’s been published in Bark Magazine, Professional Photographer, Doxie Digest, the Dallas Morning News, the Toronto Star, Indulge and many others.  Teresa’s portraits of pets with their people continue to draw big business for her studio –and the bottom line? It’s profitable!

If you’re going to learn pet photography, why learn to be average?  Why not learn hands on, side by side with these two photographers and create your own distinct blend of art and profitability?

unleashed pet photography workshops

What’s the mix? | Pet photography workshop

We frequently get asked about the course content for Unleashed… and after doing this for three years, we think we’ve found the perfect balance.  We’re doing 1/3 business and marketing, 1/3 indoor shooting (both natural light, location and studio light) and 1/3 outdoor shooting.  We’ve also lifted the restrictions formerly in place for photographers in our home zip codes.  So now if you live in Dallas, or Virginia, or Washington DC, you can join the fun!

September is the perfect time to shoot outdoors in Dallas and we’ve got some great locations  and a wide variety of dog models lined up. But beware: Pet photography is a highly addictive activity. Email us via the contact page of this website and we’ll give you all the details!

unleashed pet photography
photo by Unleashed student Michelle Gonzalez, June 2012

Pet Photography – You Are Only Limited By Your Imagination!

I think so many people take rather standard, run-of-the-mill pet photos in large part because pet photography has been pigeon-holed into that standard “traditional” backdrop world.  For so long, you either chased a pet around outside and hoped for the best or you placed them on some sort of backdrop or background (that they couldn’t ruin) and used traditional lighting techniques.

We are here to help you break out of that box! First and foremost, pet photography deserves the same level of consideration and artful approach as any other type of photographic work.  Whether your style is that of a life-style shooter or you favor the more traditional timeless poses for pets, there are ways to ramp it up!

Take lighting for instance. I am a loyal fan of David Hobby’s hugely popular website, Strobist.  His site is largely about one thing – using off-camera flash – inexpensively.  Many times we are blessed with beautiful lighting conditions.  Often times, though, we are not.  Or if we do find that beautiful light we have an uncooperative dog who’s just not going to go there!  Going the extra mile to understand your lighting options can greatly expand your pet photography repertoire.  In this photo, the day was dreary and dark.  A little extra bit of light, held camera-left by the owner, really helped this image pop.

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I believe when you start thinking of pet portraits as works of art, and begin to use light, both natural and artifical, in creative ways,  you will find yourself creating some wonderful pet images!

·Bev·