Note: Love confessions? Here’s the entire confessions series collection. If you’d like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise to keep you anonymous.
As doggy boutiques, pet playlands and cat coffee shops continue to flourish, it’s no surprise that professional pet photographers are seeing the same rise in business. I spoke to one Charlotte pet photographer about annoying pet owners, making insane noises and getting peed on. Here are her confessions:
Do you have a type of pet you refuse to work with?
I honestly love them all, it’s not just that I have to say that. … I know this is anonymous. My favorites are the ones that have a ton of expression, and cute ears don’t hurt. I’m a sucker for a French Bulldog or Corgi – I literally can’t stop photographing them. But I also have a soft spot for rescued mutts.
There is literally no animal I won’t work with. Have a pet tarantula? Bring it on. I may not hold it, but I’ll photograph it.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you at work?
I’ve been peed on – thankfully not by a human. We were photographing on a dog beach, and I was squatting down to photograph a dog when another dog ran up behind me and lifted his leg right on my back. Then there are the numerous times that I’ve almost laid down in various piles of poop while photographing in the city.
What’s the most annoying thing your customer’s do?
Incessantly tell their dog to “sit” or squeaking a toy nonstop. Even though I tell them throughout the process that we are just going to let the dog be a dog and not to worry about making them behave or look at the camera, they can’t help it. I get it, most of my clients are really concerned that we aren’t going to be able to create the images they’ve seen on my website if their dog isn’t perfectly behaved. I have a secret for you though: Pretty much none of the dogs on my website were well behaved.
Spoiler alert: 95 percent of the dogs on a professional pet photographer’s website were on a leash when they were photographed. Oh, the magic of Photoshop.
Have you ever had a pet that just wouldn’t allow you to take a good photo?
Once in a while I photograph a dog that is nervous around my camera. After all, the camera lens does look like a giant eye staring directly at them. Usually it doesn’t take long to win them over with treats.
Is the pet photography business cut-throat? Do you guys fight over business?
While there are exceptions, generally no. There are gaggles of puppies around the Queen City, so there are plenty of clients for all of us. I find that other pet photographers make great friends. We have the same interests, and they understand why I have random (unused) poop bags in all of my jacket pockets.
What tactics do you use to get pets to pose for a photo?
You will often hear a pet photographer before you see a pet photographer, especially since we are pretty much always laying on the ground. Dogs are intrigued by unusual noises, so I have a plethora of whining puppy-like noises and when those wear off, I’ve got a bag full of squeakers, kazoos and duck calls. Posing pets is all about making sure the dog is standing in the right general area for your shot, getting all of your settings dialed in and then making the most insane noise possible.
Extra care needs to be taken when posing boy dogs, especially boy dogs that are excited about the photo session. Not to worry though, the spot healing tool in Photoshop will edit that “lipstick” right out. I’ve got a glamorous job, no?
Do you judge the photos people take of their own pets?
No way. I love seeing photos of other puppies and kitties. I just love that people are documenting their furry family. Our pets are with us for such a short time, make sure you document them.