What’s happening for us in 2015

unleashed pet photography workshops

2015 looks like an exciting new year in photography and there’s always something going on in Pet Photography. Don’t forget to check our facebook group for updates.  Teresa is planning the summer STUDIO SHOOTERS UNLEASHED at her studio in Dallas tentatively schedule for July 10-12th. This is the perfect time to dive in to studio shooting with both feet and learn HANDS ON in a working studio. Stay tuned here for updates.

In early August, Teresa travels to the Minneapolis area and is possibly getting together a 1 or 2 day shooting workshop.

Keep shooting and check back with us soon for more details.

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The Evolution of Pet Photography – What Will Your Story Be?

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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!

Adding People to your Pet Portraits and Pets to your People Portraits

teresa berg pet portraits
Combining people and pets is an art. It’s not always easy, but with a little extra planning, your portraits go from good to AWESOME. Here are FIVE TIPS for PHOTOGRAPHING PEOPLE WITH THEIR PETS.

1. Location RULES! Don’t pick the location for any other reason than the light – and the comfort of your subjects. If the dog’s not comfortable on a slatted bench, then don’t frustrate yourself by trying to make him sit there. For a basic warm and casual portrait, It’s always a good idea to get the people and the dogs faces on the same plane. Preferably close together.

2. Fresh people + Tired Dogs = Great portraits. Somehow, you want the dogs to burn off their excess energy before you sit them in front of the camera. Conversely, you want your two-legged subjects fresh and ready to go.

3. Minimize distractions. This is true for kids but doubly important for dogs. You’ll have a very difficult time creating the perfect dog portrait if Max is tracking squirrels and ducks with his eyes. Choose the time of day and the location to minimize these kinds of challenges. Noisy playgrounds, for example, are problematic for both types of subjects.

4. Casual beats Formal. The days of formal posed pet portraits are over! It’s far more important to get them laughing and playing together than to exhaust yourself (and them) for the perfect pose. Let them interact and prompt them occasionally to look at the camera while they are roughly in position. Shoot wider than necessary to allow them room to move. They will both love you for it.

5. What to wear? Since Max can’t really change his outfit, you better make sure your two-legged subjects pay attention to theirs. You want them to contrast with their pet but not compete. But watch out – too much contrast can make all that loose dog hair a photoshop nightmare for you later. A good medium range color that doesn’t distract the eye will usually save the day.

It's an important combination — important for your clients and important for your business. And even though many pet photographers try to steer away from photographing people it pays (literally) to build those skills! We'll have both people and pet models at our upcoming Studio Shooters Workshop in Dallas next month for just that reason, so if this is an area you've been avoiding — take a deep breath and join us! For more details on the agenda, the cost and the accommodations for the Studio Shooting workshop, just click on the tabs at the top of this page.