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?
P.S. And could you please do it right now? They only have six seats left!
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!
We finished another magical three days of fun, creativity and intense learning this week and the variety of things we shoot never ceases to amaze me! Many thanks to a great group of students for not giving up in the rain and for hanging in there through the long days of shooting, taking turns and technical breakthroughs. You all have some fantastic new images to show for it! Here is a sample shot by Allison Schmidt. Special thanks goes to Robin Terrell of Good Dog Fetch for recruiting and handling some wonderful dogs for us.
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.
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!
We’re going to be teaching a full day of Pre-conference classes at Imaging USA in January! We’re on the schedule for January 15th, from 9-5 –so arrive a day early and join us at SIT! STAY! LEARN!
It’s mentioned officially in the July issue of Professional Photographer — and registration opens very soon. Since it’s a one day class it’s an encapsulated version of Unleashed – no shooting and no “Don’s Day of Sales’ but if you’re planning to attend Imaging USA in San Antonio and you want to get introduced to what we have to offer at a much reduced price, this might just be the perfect thing. We’ll each be covering our lighting, our marketing, and of course, going into how we do what we do. But sign up early — last year there were 10,000 photographers at Imaging!
An amazing group of photographers converged on us in Dallas this past week. We had one breakthrough after another, and the images we’re seeing from our attendees are really terrific. One of the great benefits to any workshop like this is the ability to shoot side by side with people who share your passion and hear what’s working for them in their part of the world. We had photographers from Vancouver, Georgia, New Jersey, Arkansas, Washington, Massachusetts, Oregon, California, New York, and even one from Texas!
To help facilitate the communication and sharing of ideas and passions we always set up a private Facebook group so people can arrange to share cars, hotel rooms etc. but the biggest bonus is the sharing that goes on AFTER the workshop. I have been watching a wonderful flood of images and helpful links hit the Unleashed Dallas Facebook page — and now we all have peers across the country that we can reach out to. Social media is constantly being evaluated these days, but there’s no doubt that it’s relevant (and valuable) for photographers.
Thanks to all of our participants for an amazing workshop — and for those of you waiting for registration to open for the east coast version – check back May 1st.