Photographing pets | Unleashed Workshops

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!

Unleashed dog photography workshop

why dog photography? statistics on pet ownership and spending


I read this article online a couple of years ago and saw the handwriting on the wall. Prior to reading this, I just assumed that dog photography was for the people who wanted to set up a camera and a backdrop at PetSmart and do the “5 minute for $5” kind of pet portrait. That didn’t appeal to me in the least! But 63% of American families have at least one pet – now that’s alot of dogs! Alot of these people love art, and quality and creativity and want beautiful portraits. 

And for those of us that really love dogs, what could be better than inviting them into our studios and working with them every day?  It’s not the easiest way to make a living, but wow! is it fun!   


dog portrait - Mae- the beagle

Pets in America have

$40 billion spent on them

by doting owners

Nancy Davis Kho, Special to The Chronicle

Wednesday, October 10, 2007



How Americans treat pets has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. No longer do we relegate dogs and cats to life in the backyard eating table scraps. Sixty-three percent of cat owners and 42 percent of dog owners share their beds with their pets.


Pets are the focus of a huge commercial industry that tries to meet not only the basic needs of animals but the need of pet owners – or, as they say in San Francisco, pet guardians – to reward their pets in ways meaningful in human terms.

The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association recently released its 2007-08 National Pet Owners Survey, finding that expenditures on pets in this country will top an estimated $40 billion in 2007. This is almost double the $23 billion spent a decade ago. Sixty-three percent of American homes include a pet, the highest level since the association began tracking statistics in 1988. Not surprisingly, cats and dogs are the most popular pet choices.

Bob Vetere, president of the association, said the increase in spending started in the mid-’90s and has continued. “Certainly post 9/11, the world is a scarier place for some people. People are looking for comfort, and that’s something that a pet provides,” Vetere said.