That’s right! We’re planning Unleashed for January 2014 in Dallas. If you’re on the east coast and you can wait until June, we’ll still be teaching in Virginia. But for those of you that don’t mind escaping the snow for a few days in Big D, how about late January? Average temps are in the 40s and 50s with plenty of sunshine and beautiful opportunities for some crisp outdoor photography. Three full days with two instructors –business, marketing and shooting (both indoors and out), with live models. We’ll have more information as soon as the hotel and schedules are confirmed.
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!
We’ve finalized our plans for Virginia Unleashed 2013 and we couldn’t be more excited!
We start early and go late so book your flights accordingly. And bring your running shoes for some non-stop action!
DATES: June 8-10
Where: Northern Virginia (Dulles [IAD]), Leesburg and surrounding area
Cost: $1395 (see Workshop and Agenda tabs for more info on what’s included!)
Email us through our contact page here for registration links. Hotel links will be available in the registration packet. See you in Virginia and come ready to be Unleashed! There are only
15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5,4,3, 2 spots remaining so make your decision soon!
for the most amazing pet photography workshop in the country! As much as we hate to brag, we really think we’ve got a great mix of business, marketing and shooting. And Sept 29th will be here before you know it!
We’re putting the final touches on our list of dog models and it looks like we’re going to be super busy setting up lots of cool shots in a wide variety of locations.
Will you be the one to snag the last seat???
Are you ready to start photographing pets?
Let’s pretend that you are an experienced photographer shooting babies, kids and families. There are only 100 of us per square mile these days. How do you set yourself apart from your competition? Start shooting pets, right? They’re cute, everybody’s got one –how hard can it be?
Think about a few of these scenarios before inviting pets in to your studio:
- What happens if Max, the black lab, refuses to look at the camera and chooses instead to take off after a squirrel? Chaos follows. Now you’re watching your profits go flying out the window as everyone takes off after him, messes up their hair and clothing, scaring the baby who erupts in to tears.
- A 50ish couple calls and books an appointment for a session with their elderly Schnauzer. After they arrive, they announce that he’s deaf and almost blind – but that’s okay, right? How do you get his attention, where do you seat the three of them and how do you make all three of them look younger, healthier and blissfully happy?
- Your favorite clients want you to photograph their new baby with their old baby – a 9 year old Golden Retriever. How do you set up the shot?
- The Smiths show up with their three Jack Russell Terriers and want great portraits but they forgot to tell you they didn’t want to be in them. Now what?
- The young couple down the street wants shots of their Australian Shepherd catching his Frisbee in mid-air, in the park, in the middle of the day on a Saturday. Are you ready?
You’re laughing now because you KNOW one of these things is going to happen to you (or already has) and you know you were unprepared. So back up a few steps. There are lots of great reasons to photograph pets and it WILL increase your sales and it WILL bring new clients in your door –but be a professional and do it thoughtfully. Take a workshop, buy a book, get some practice and build a great pet portfolio that will actually BRING in new clients. Find out what Pet lovers buy and what you have to charge to actually make a profit. Then update your website and start marketing to pet lovers. Adding pet photography brings all sorts of benefits to your existing business –not to mention puppy breath!
Thanks to all of your kind and gentle urgings, we’re setting the wheels in motion for a new Unleashed Workshop! A few changes and lots of energy are going in to the plans for our next pet photography adventure. Early summer 2012 is looking pretty good, but please stay tuned to this blog for all the latest information!
For those of you who are on the fence about attending an Unleashed workshop, we feel that it’s only fair to let you know that this is our last one. In a lot of ways, we have accomplished our mission to raise awareness for pet photography as an art form and a business.
Our workshops have been dedicated in a big way to marketing and business practices. Sure, we’d all rather be playing with our cameras, but anyone (with enough practice) can learn to use a camera. Where do you learn to run a dog photography business? Which shots are the ones that sell? How do you set your prices? And so that’s why we spend 50% of the workshop on business and 50% on shooting.
And it must be working –look at the terrific group of Unleashed graduates who have been successful in almost every corner of this country (and Canada). We are very proud! So if you’ve been putting off your decision, now is the time. As of this date, we have 6 spaces left. We really hope you’ll join us.
SIDE NOTE: We reserve the right to possibly hold ‘graduate school’ for past attendees, and maybe some portfolio shooting weekend retreats. So if you’re a past Unleashed attendee, keep checking back for fun stuff.
From time to time we get asked to summarize what “Unleashed” is really all about and so here’s the official elevator speech. You know, the answer you give if you get asked in an elevator and you’ve only got about 90 seconds to answer?
Unleashed | fine art pet photography workshops is a deep dive into the art of pet photography. Three photographers from three different metropolitan areas, bringing three different perspectives together in one place. Their distinct vision, technique, and business experience is translated into an intense and informal three day learning retreat. Each of the Unleashed workshops is held at one of the instructor’s photography studios (with some outdoor shooting at nearby locations) so that attendees can learn in the actual environments.
While the styles and approaches of each of the instructors may vary, and even contradict – the primary mission is the same – to raise awareness for dog photography as art, and to make it profitable.
So what’s your elevator speech? If you run in to someone at the grocery store or the bank what do you say? Can you summarize your style, your strengths and your business model in 90 seconds? That’s really all the time you have to capture someone’s attention. Most of us have trouble describing what we do after the “I’m a photographer” part gets blurted out, but think about it — you have a great opportunity to capture someone’s interest and grow your business.