Pet photography is a great way for those in the pet shops industry to diversify their businesses. Acclaimed critter shutterbug Richie Schwartz, who is also known as the "Dog Whisperer of Pet Photographers" due to his outstanding rapport with companion animals, offers these valuable tips for those who wish to branch out into pet photography.
Time Required: Varies.
- The first tip, which is extremely important, has nothing to do with creative talent, technique or equipment. “You must love animals; you have to be an animal person,” Richie says. “Because I worked with animals for years, I have an edge; I understand their psyches. "Some people get into the business for the business. But you have to love pets, from spiders to the largest pet dogs to the more unusual such as ferrets and even pet pigs.”
- Write a business plan. “Make it realistic,” Richie advises. “A business plan isn’t just important to a new business, it’s necessary for any changes being made to an existing business.”
- Determine who will handle this. Decide who is going actually be in charge of the pet photography: You, an employee or an outside contractor.
- Training. Figure out where you will get this, and how long it will take. You or whomever you delegate the pet photography operation to could take a class at a local college, or intern with an established portrait photographer for starters.
- Research equipment. Not only is it important to take the time to investigate what you will need, you also have to determine where you will place and store it. Plus, devise a budget for how much equipment you can afford.
- Evaluate the competition. Take a look at other pet stores in your area to see who is offering what in terms of pet portrait photography. Try to come up with ways that your new pet photography business could stand out, or devise ways to come up with pet photography services that are unique to your area. One suggestion would be to offer pet photography services to couples who plan to include pets in their weddings, for example.
- As for dealing with the animals themselves, Richie suggests:
- Take a few minutes to talk to the pets and get to know them
- Offer them treats
- Be prepared for the possibility of pets going to the bathroom
What You Need
- A genuine love for and patience with pets
- Adequate operational and storage space
- Photography equipment
- Treats and toys to ensure pet cooperation
- A good sense of humor