My original idea for the podcast was for me to start a new photography business and let the listeners follow along. It was going to be either a Headshot or Pet photography business, I hadn’t decided which one, then Covid19 joined us and I shelved that idea.
I still think it’s a great idea for a podcast. So if you are about to start a photography business, consider making a podcast about it.
Which pets should you photograph?
When you think of pet photographers you automatically think of dogs. Yes, dogs will be probably 98% of your subjects, but you’ll also get owners of other animals contacting you.
I posted some photos of my chickens and turkeys on social media. I got two inquiries from poultry owners shortly after.
I often wonder if you really niched down and became a specialist who only photographed cats, would the business work out? I think it would, cat owners are just as crazy as dog owners, and with cats, the shoot would mostly be indoors. Whereas dog photoshoots are mostly outdoors unless you have a studio.
I knew a photographer that only photographed horses, and she made a great living. So don’t think that dogs are your only option.
I want you to check this photographer out. Her name is Cat Race and she runs CatsDog Photography https://catsdog.co.uk/ourwork/ her work is incredible, take a look.
An entry-level camera body in most situations will be fine. The one thing you need though is good quality lenses, a kit lens won’t cut it.
Your lenses need to cover everything from 24mm to 200mm. If you want to shoot zooms then the 24-70mm 2.8 and the 70-200mm 2.8 lenses together are perfect.
Shooting prime lenses with focal lengths of 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, and 200mm is another option. Or you could get 24mm and 35mm primes together with the 70-200mm 2.8 zoom.
Lighting is very important for dog portraits outdoors. A speedlight flash in a softbox works great if you have an assistant. If you don’t have an assistant then an on-camera flash will also work. When I say on-camera I don’t mean the pop-up flash built into the camera body. I mean mounting a speedlight flash onto the camera.
Marketing and Sales
So how are you going to get customers? Well, the first thing you are going to do is build a website with a portfolio of your work. If you don’t already have a portfolio you need one. Offer free sessions and get three or four photoshoots to use as your portfolio.
You also need to start your email list. To build your list you are going to have a call to action on the website. It could offer a free 8×10 print, or just let them know when you have seasonal specials or openings available. Every month you are going to send everyone on the list an email with your promotions. Every business needs a list.
Next, you are going to list your business in “Google my Business”. It’s free and will put you at the top of Google search results. Just do a Google search for “Google my Business” and sign up for an account.
The next step on your journey is Facebook. You need to set up a Facebook Page for your new business.
Once that is done search Facebook groups for anything pet-related and join the groups. Join in the conversations and let them know you’re a pet photographer. Don’t try to sell. Show them pics from your latest shoot and ask what they think. If they like your work they’ll book you.
You could start paying for Facebook ads but be careful, and educate yourself before jumping in, it can be expensive.
Your options for selling are offering digital files, products in person, or products online.
Digital files should not be offered, but if you do then the price should be high.
Selling products like framed prints, canvases, acrylic prints, books, and albums can either be done through your website, or in person.
In-person sales can be time-consuming, and you might not be suited to this type of sales. I know I didn’t like it. Start selling through your website using watermarked images in galleries.
As far as pricing goes you need to check out episode #12 of the podcast and join the 50mmframework member’s area, it’s free. In the member’s area, you can download the pricing spreadsheet that’ll help you find your break-even point. There is a link in the podcast show notes.
Photographing pets in my opinion is best done where the animal can really express themselves. I’ve done many dog portraits in a studio setting and they are not relaxed. Take the shoot outdoors and they are free to be themselves, and you can see it in the results.
Pet photography can be very lucrative and there aren’t that many photographers specializing in pets.