The busiest time for most pet photographers is the month or two before the Christmas season. At this time pet owners, particularly dog owners, are starting to think about Christmas cards, calendars and gifts that feature images of their beloved pets. While some owners will use their own digital cameras to capture that perfect picture of their pet or pets, going to a professional pet photographer is often the only sure way to get a shot that you will love.
Of course there are many other times that professional pet photographers are also used. Most dog shows, trials and competitions have professional photographers on site to take pictures of awards and ribbons being presented as well as to take private photographs as well. In addition most kennels and breeders use professional photographers to take pictures of their dogs for advertising and promoting their kennel both online and in print.
Finding the right pet photographer can be a bit of a challenge. Not all professional photographers will work with pets and not all have the skills necessary to get these sometimes very challenging pictures. Dogs and cats are much different than people, they are highly distracted in an unusual environment plus they simply may not understand what you want of them. Sitting perfectly still with a specific expression on their face is just not in most dog's behavior repertoires.
Photographers that specialized in pet photography are often people that have a great ability to interact with pets and put them at ease. Many have dogs of their own and are patient and willing to sit as long as necessary until they get just the right shot. They are also creative in working with the dog to capture just the look that the owner wants.
Even though the responsibility of getting a great photograph rests with the photographer, the dog has to also be able to do what it is supposed to do. A dog that won't sit and stay will be a challenge to photograph unless the owner is willing to also be in the picture. Likewise a dog that doesn't normally wear clothing, sunglasses or a bandana is going to be more challenging to photograph with these items on, no matter how professional and accommodating the photographer may be.
Selecting the best pet photographer does require a bit of research. A good starting place is to talk to a local breed club, dog organization or even a pet store to find out what photographer they recommend. Sometimes charity groups or organizations hold pet photography charity events, finding out which photographer they use for these events will often provide you with the name or names of very seasoned pet photography professionals.
There are several benefits to having the photographer come to your home rather than going into his or her studio. This is typically going to cost you a bit more in the actual price of the photographs, but your dog will be more relaxed and less stressed when in his or her own space. You will also have a wider variety of toys and more distraction free environment than the studio will provide, unless your dog is very socialized and used to being in a variety of new types of environments.
The major drawback to having the photographer come to your house is that they will have to most likely set up lighting as well as create a mini-studio area if you want a specific background or setting. This may require a lot of moving around of furniture unless you want a shot of the room as the background. Lighting in houses can also be a concern for professional photographers but most will work with what is there and just add the necessary accent lighting to get the perfect shot.
It is important to check with the photographer to find out how many pet photographs he or she has done and if they have a portfolio you can look at. Most photographers now have this type of professional portfolio online and this will give you an idea of the quality and type of pet photographs they take. Be sure to also look at the backgrounds and the layouts of the shots, making sure they are in keeping with what you are looking for.
If you are planning on having your dog in some type of clothing or costume or you want a specific type of background it is important to talk with the photographer ahead of time. This is because they may be able to make recommendations for colors that are best matched in photographs. An example of this would be an owner wanting a picture of a black Lab against a dark blue background. This would not highlight the dog but the photographer may be able to suggest a lighter blue or a red color of background that would really bring the dog to the focus of the picture.
Pet photographers typically have a wide range of tricks that they use to get those perfect photos. They may have funny sounding whistles to get the dog's to tilt their heads or even moving toys that capture the dog's attention in those beautiful poses. In some cases the dog photographer may actually have the owner in the room to assist, while in others the owner may need to step outside so the dog will focus in on the photographer.
Most professional photographers will schedule at least a 30 minute session for each pet to allow them to become comfortable in front of the camera and in the studio or area. Avoid photographers that are mass booking pets at one time as you will be rushed through your sitting and may not get the quality of photo you are looking for. In addition your dog may become increasingly stressed as more and more dogs arrive, leading to problems when it is finally your turn.
Also, keep in mind that the best pet photographers will book quickly, especially in the holiday season. Plan to book your session well in advance to avoid missing out on your chance to have your pet photographed. If you can't get into a photographer, you may want to consider those charity photo events as they are for a wonderful cause and will leave you with a memory of your pet for this Christmas.