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Few things can bring a smile to your face quite like a pet. Try and look at a cuddly pup or fluffy cat and then not feel happy. Just try! It’s never going to happen. You can immortalize those good vibes by snapping some pet pics—and you can take them even further by pursuing a career as a pet photographer! Animal lovers and pet owners everywhere are always looking for opportunities to capture their furry friends forever. Why not help them do that and make some money in the process? If you already love hanging out with pets, it couldn’t be a more perfect gig.
Keep scrolling for all of the ins and outs of professional pet photography.
In-Demand Types of Pet Photography
There are several types of popular pet photography you can explore as a photographer who specializes in snapping pictures of animals.
Cat lovers will welcome the chance to hang a photo of their favorite feline on the wall. As a cat photographer, you’ll organize photoshoots with cats, typically on their turf so that your subject is as comfortable as possible. With a little practice, your beautiful cat photography will be worthy of a place of honor in your clients’ homes.
For every cat person seeking a professional photo of their cat, there is, of course, a dog person seeking the same. A dog photoshoot might take place in a client’s home, in their dog’s favorite park, or anywhere else where your canine subject comes alive. If you prefer a more formal look to your pictures, you might also consider dog studio photography.
New parents will often hire a photographer to capture newborn photos of their babies. Why shouldn’t new dog parents hire a professional pet photographer for adorable puppy pics? As a puppy photographer, you’ll have the very cool—and very cute—responsibility of capturing life’s cutest moments… ever.
Don’t forget the kittens! Fresh feline family members deserve their moment in the spotlight as well. Kitten photography is bound to be an exercise in patience since teeny cats have a tendency to stay on the move, but your efforts will pay off in absolutely adorable images.
Dog and Owner/Family Photography
Any dog lover will tell you that their dogs are as important to the family as the humans. It’s no wonder there’s a demand for professional photos of dogs with their owners and families. A dog and owner photoshoot will give you the chance to celebrate the special connection between canines and their humans. Your clients will be so grateful to have a tangible memory of that connection forever.
Cat and Owner Photography
Cat owners are just as eager to celebrate the love they have for their pets. As a professional pet photographer, you might explore photoshoots of cats and their owners, often in their homes or a studio.
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Animal Shelter Photography
Animal shelter photography is a special subset of the professional pet photography industry. As you might imagine, animal shelter photographers take their talents to adoption centers and shelters, where they take pictures of pets still waiting on their forever families.
Like other varieties of pet photography, animal shelter photography allows animal-loving photogs to spend quality time with precious pets, but it also gives them the power to make a real difference in the lives of furry pals who are looking for homes. If you’re passionate about animal rescue and are a skilled photographer, you should absolutely consider taking this direction for your pet photography. You might even donate your services to local organizations that need high-quality images for their marketing materials.
Shelter Dog Photography
You’re probably wondering how a professional pet photographer can make a meaningful difference to pet adoption through animal shelter photography. It’s as simple as this: When shelters are able to share high-quality pictures of their shelter dogs, those dogs are more likely to attract interested adopters.
A talented pet photographer who can also make their shelter dog subjects feel happy and comfortable will capture even better pictures of those dogs! The right shelter dog photos will bring long lines of prospective pet owners into local adoption centers.
How to Become a Pet Photographer
Interested in taking a career as a pet photographer seriously? There are a few things you’ll need to do.
Practice Standard Photography Skills
In order to be a good pet photographer, you’ll first need to be a good general photographer, so grab a camera and start practicing. There are plenty of basic photography classes you can take online to hone your craft—here are a few of our favorites to try:
- Point-And-Shoot Basic Photography: Amazing Photos Even on Auto!
- Photography Basics: Five Days to Better Pictures
- Photography Composition: Amazing Photos With Any Camera, Even the Camera on Your Phone!
- Photography Basics: Fundamentals for Beginners
Once you’re comfortable with your camera and basic composition, you can start focusing on pets.
Spend Time With Animals!
No matter how talented you are as a photographer, if you don’t love and enjoy spending time with animals, your future as a professional pet photographer is going to be quite limited. Do you already have a natural passion for animals? Great! You may have found your calling!
If you’re a little more cautious around pets but are still interested in pursuing pet photography, you should look for opportunities to spend time with animals so that you can get more comfortable with them. Over time, you might develop a greater love for furry companions.
Get Plenty of Patience
Taking pictures of pets is never boring, but that also means it can be a bit frustrating from time to time. Dogs, cats, and other animals have minds of their own and won’t necessarily listen to a photographer’s instructions the way a human subject would! As a pet photographer, you should show up to any photoshoot armed with plenty of patience so that you can roll with the punches as your muse meows, barks, jumps, rolls, or maybe even runs out of the frame.
Learn Business and Studio Basics
Any creative who is embarking on an entrepreneurial journey—like starting a pet photography business!—can benefit from taking a basic business class or two. Consider these online courses:
- Business Planning Toolbox: 8 Easy Steps to Planning Your Small Business
- The Basics of Business Accounting
- Brand Basics for Business Success
As you’re getting your business off the ground, you’ll have to decide if you’d prefer to take photos of pets in your client’s homes, on location in parks and other pet-friendly spots, or in a studio. If you’re leaning toward a studio, explore available locations in your area or set up a photo studio at home.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a pet photographer in 2021 is $36,685. This equates to approximately $18 per hour. Of course, freelance photographer rates vary wildly, and many photographers make additional income by selling prints or stock photos. No matter what, there are much less cute ways to earn a living!
It’s Time to Capture the Cute Memories!
Now that you know the basics of becoming a professional pet photographer, all that’s left to do is pick up your camera, make sure you’ve mastered basic photography skills, and find some adorable subjects to capture. Over time, you can build your business into a thriving enterprise that will help you pay the bills and certainly spread lots of joy.
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