With the average dog living between 10 and 13 years, it’s always too short a time but enough for them to become very much an essential member of our family. Family photography has been a popular option for many years, but hiring a professional dog photographer isn’t always on the mind of the dog lovers of the UK. Why is it that children should be the only ones getting professional portraits? Now is the time for us to help to redress that balance. Hiring a full-time professional dog photographer isn’t something that many people have experience of booking. So it is worthwhile looking at why you should invest in a professional when you think about creating a lasting memory of your dogs.
What types of photography sessions are they able to offer?
Typically the options available for you to book are either fine art studio or location dog photography. They both certainly have their merits and suit different clients and their dogs, and it’s worth thinking about the style of images that these different options produce. Some photographers only offer one of these options. I have both a dedicated dog-friendly studio and the choice to either work in a beautiful country park nearby or travel to a location of your choice. Our shoot consultation can help us determine which you would prefer. With award-winning success from my studio and location photography, clients are drawn to the different styles for reasons such as:
- Their dogs’ breed
- Is it beautiful portrait photography or more action shots you want
- Any individual health or socialisation requirements
- Capturing special moments between the client and their pets
- Do you have multiple dogs to photograph
- Considerations about the weather and time of the year
- The type of finished product they wish to purchase
- Where they might want to hang the finished wall art
- Tones/colours available from the studio or location
Are they a specialist dog photographer?
Photographers have often offered many services to their clients. With so many genres available to them, they might wish to appeal to every type of client that might be searching for a photographer. They are what is often called a General Photographer, i.e. they shoot weddings on weekends, might dabble in a bit of baby photography and will always fit in a family shoot when asked. They will be good at what they do, but can they match the expertise offered by a specialist. A dedicated dog photographer will have experience of working with many different breeds and understand their particular breed characteristics. This understanding will help them work with their client to create the best photographs possible. Knowing how a Whippet stands, getting a GSP to point, having a Staffy smile; all of these traits come from years of working with dogs. Dogs also tend to know doggy people and tend to trust them more because of it. Putting them at ease around strangers, their environment and equipment make the session run smoother and ensures everyone is more relaxed too.
As a Spaniel owner, I’ve become known as a bit of a working breed specialist. Having the perfect outdoor location nearby also means that I can offer a backdrop that suits these types of dogs the best. Perhaps a city centre session might appeal more for the toy breed or their owner. Knowing how to create the perfect image, from every client pet, throughout the year and in different locations comes from selecting a specialist.
Are they qualified as a dog photographer?
It certainly isn’t an essential requirement when selecting a dog photographer, but it is nice to know that they have invested in their skills to enable this to be the case. Within the UK, there several photographic associations that provide qualifications to determine the professional status of the photographers in their membership. Criteria include both critiques of their imagery and business aspects such as having a business insurance policy, contracts etc. Photographers achieve this qualification through the submission of multiple image panels, only passing when each of the judges approves all of the images as meeting their standards. I’m fortunate to have received such qualifications from photograph industry bodies the WPPI in the USA and The Guild of Photographers in the UK.
Has the photographer got their own dog?
Whilst we don’t all need to be trained dog psychologists, over the years of owning our dogs; we develop our skills and an understanding of dog communication. I’ve heard from quite a few times of clients visiting generic photography studios and realising straight away that the photographer isn’t a dog owner or ‘doggie person’. Dogs are very versed in reading signals from those that they meet and can tell if the photographer doesn’t have enough experience of them. My family has owned dogs since I was a young child, and my wife and I have had multiple dogs together for the last 12 years. Working exclusively as a dog specialist for eight-plus years and photographing 100s of dogs during that time has certainly helped me develop that understanding of dog’s personality still further.
Is the studio environment dog friendly?
Whether you are visiting the studio for your fine art sessions or bringing the dogs with you for the viewing session, the environment must be safe for dogs. Knowing that the photographer isn’t going to panic about a bit of slobber and dribbles from the water bowl, will put everyone at ease. I’m fortunate that I invested a lot of money in creating the perfect, dedicated, dog-friendly studio space in the gardens of my home. Only a few steps up from off-road client parking and surrounded by fields, I’m very proud of what I have created. Knowing exactly what I needed to create beautiful images of my clients’ dogs, whilst keeping everything safe was the driving force behind this build. If you select a studio session, there are no distractions from other dogs to worry about, and with only one session a day you get all the time that is needed.
How are dog photography sessions run?
Tailoring dog photoshoots for each dog booked in is essential. A shoot consultation session will ensure that a client’s needs and their dogs are taken into account. There shouldn’t be a rush, but at the same time not making the session over long and tedious for the dogs is important too. Taking it at the right pace for the individual dog means that the images will better, the dog enjoys the session more and clients are happier also. We always allocate 60-90 minutes for a dog portrait photo-shoot. Some shoots take longer, some less time. It depends on the dogs we are photographing, the type of session, the creative process and what the client wishes to achieve. Feedback from previous clients suggests that the pace is just right, and they enjoy the experience. You won’t find me running six sessions a day and rushing dogs through one after the other.
Both studio and location sessions will make use of professional flash equipment. Sensitively deployed to ensure that the dogs are happy with it, flash equipment creates the artistic edge the clients sometimes can’t quite see, but makes such a difference to the finished images. With over fifteen years of using such equipment, I can put dogs at ease and use it quickly in all sorts of scenarios, helping me capture those precious moments.
What about the impact of the British weather?
Of course, if you have selected a studio dog portrait, the weather doesn’t really have an impact on the shoot going ahead. But the weather is something that we British like to obsess about when it comes to exploring the outdoors. Depending on where we book the outdoor shoot, it might mean that we don’t have to worry about conditions too much. But for my country park location, it’s real beauty is determined by where it sits on a Welsh hilltop. Wind and rain will sometimes scupper our plans, and we need to reschedule. Lots of advance weather watching is part of my daily routine, and if required, I will contact you the evening before to make a final go/no-go decision. Some clients are happy to take the risk of getting wet and might even prefer to see them naturally enjoying the conditions and showing their personality too. But if preferred, we will work through our diaries and schedule a new date at no extra cost. Availability can’t always be guaranteed, especially at times of the year where my diary is booked up eight weeks in advance. But I keep dates spare in the calendar as a contingency for such situations. The weather does mean a loss of income, but I want to deliver a professional service, and this is the best approach to follow.
How many dogs can be involved in a dog portrait session?
As a multi-dog household, we’re used to the enjoyment of sharing our lives with more than one dog. So it’s perfectly understandable for clients to bring more than the one dog if they have a house full of dogs. It can be a challenge, but I’ve had up to 18 dogs in one shoot before when working with a commercial client. I would say that if we have more than one dog, most are just two dog sessions. There are size constraints when studio sessions are requested, as it really would be crazy time if we had more than three medium-sized dogs in there at one time. However, through the magic of editing, there are means of producing the perfect shot which gives the impression all the dogs were together at the same time. The size/breed also makes a difference. Five chihuahuas certainly don’t take up as much space as two Wolfhounds 🙂
Do you have client testimonials?
Unsolicited reviews from previous clients are the best sorts of feedback experienced photographers can wish for. Both Google and social media such as Facebook are third party sources that prospective clients can trust for client reviews to select a reputable pet photographer. As you can see below, these are the only sources I use as testimonials on my website. You would hope that the better pet photographers receive good client reviews too. If a client has had a great photography experience, they are often happy to talk about how their beloved pets enjoyed the session.
How much does it cost to book professional pet photography?
My prices are transparent, both for the session fees and the subsequent artwork you wish to purchase. Please take a look at my dog photography experience page for session fees and product pages for sample pricing. I provide clients with detailed product pricing at the time of booking, in advance of the session date, so that there are no hidden surprises. Your shoot consultation will also help me understand your needs and help with pricing too. Clients can understand what their investment might be. You might wish to select one perfect photo for a larger piece or create a cluster of smaller images. With framing completed by the best in the business, all products are ready to hang so that you can enjoy your artwork as soon as it is delivered. After all, there is nothing better than unwrapping a parcel, falling in love with the finished artwork and getting to see them installed on the same day. Take a look at some of the client reviews for examples of the joy they have from seeing their artwork for the first time.
How does the ordering session work after the dog photography shoot?
When you select and book with a professional dog photographer, you must understand the process of choosing your final images. Over the years, I have developed a streamlined workflow which enables me to have clients come and select finished products within two hours of the session ending. As so many of my clients travel some distance to me, I want them to avoid a second journey if they would prefer. So whilst they head to one of several dog-friendly locations for a break, I turn around the initial editing of 30-40 images ready to show you in our bespoke viewing room. My in-person sales service means that clients are helped through the process of selecting their favourites with the finished wall art always in our mind. Projected large and true to size, clients love the experience of working with me to decide how they want to display their favourite photo. Why be pointed at an on-line gallery of pictures with no real support and left more confused and unable to decide on what is best for you. To me, it’s the only service a professional photographer should offer.
How big can my wall display artwork be?
Imagine how your amazing images will look big on your walls. Professional dog photographers are reliant on the quality of the finished fine art print products they produce for their clients. On top of the shoot experience, it’s the determining factor which ensures a client falls in love with what they have purchased and will enjoy for a lifetime. So it’s vital that we only work with the best suppliers in the country. It’s these suppliers, depending on the product, that determines how big the finished products can be. Their production facilities can go larger if needed, but 60″ is what most framers are happy to manufacture and most importantly, ship. Clients need to take into account the production timelines applicable to outsized products too. In certain circumstances, I have had to transport artwork myself, as couriers will not provide insurance cover for products over a specific size. It’s all part of the service, if necessary.
Why should we travel for professional photography?
Finding the best fit for you is often determined by many more factors than travel time. Often you might book a pet portrait artist because of previous client reviews, so distance doesn’t matter. Reputation, such as awards and publication in national magazines helps clients understand why taking a day out to enjoy this experience is worthwhile too. My location and what it offers is an integral part of why clients book me. I’m fortunate to be situated in a semi-rural area with easy access to motorways, but only a few minutes from stunning natural beauty. North Wales has so much to offer those who visit it. But it’s surprising how few clients know this part of Wales. It’s worthwhile taking a couple of days to explore the area, perhaps before and after your shoot date. I’ve partnered with a couple of very dog-friendly Bed and Breakfasts and country hotels to deliver a perfect couple of days away. So if you are from Scotland, Cornwall or even Europe you can join the many clients who have gained a real love for the part of the UK my dog photography studio enjoys.