There are some really fantastic resources for pet photography education out there, taught by highly experienced pet photographers who are shooting prolifically and running successful businesses. Education such as: dog photography workshops, consulting, mentoring, e-books, and PDF guides.
These are our top picks for pet photography workshops, consulting and mentoring that we wholeheartedly recommend, endorse and believe in. If you are a pet photographer looking for a wonderful, experienced, successful teacher, please consider signing up for one of the following:
Talented, successful, creative, driven, caring and compassionate are all words I would use to describe teachers Barbara Breitsameter, Kim Hartz and Jenny Froh, the gals behind the newish (and wildly successful) Paw Print Divas intensive 4-day pet photography workshops. Their workshop covers business and marketing on day 1, and is followed by three full days of shooting at a variety of different locations.
Their most recent workshop was at Lake Tahoe, and rumor has it- it was AMAZING. If you are interested in future workshops, definitely send them an email to get on the notification list. Read more about these amazing workshops and talented women by clicking the link to their workshop website above.
Although Norah has been a professional pet photographer for over 10 years, I just recently found out about her work and her workshop, and I have to say, my socks were knocked off by what I saw.
From the Santa Fe Workshops website:
“Enjoy four days in beautiful Santa Fe exploring a genre that is both challenging and rewarding: photographing pets on location. In this workshop, we focus on the planning and production of a commissioned pet portrait. Sharing the tricks of the trade, Norah emphasizes the importance of using props, forging a playful connection between photographer and subject, and discerning the all-important details regarding a pet’s behavior and its environment. Most significantly, Norah addresses strategies for solving the unique problems that often arise when dealing with animals during a photography session. Working with a variety of animals, including domestic pets and horses, we learn how to apply the many different techniques that Norah uses as a successful pet photographer.
Participants work individually and collectively on daily assignments, followed by group critiques and discussions of lighting, composition, and style. Classroom time also touches on creative approaches to pet portraiture, as well as troubleshooting unexpected technical issues. Assignments include photographing horses on a local ranch, interacting with people and pets in their environments, and creating imagery at a non-profit animal organization.
By the end of the workshop you have acquired a unique set of people and pet skills, and are able to translate those skills into compelling and marketable imagery.”
If you are looking to improve your skills with someone who has built a successful career doing what she loves, read more details about the workshop on the Santa Fe Workshops website linked above, and register right on the site. This is one you won’t want to miss!
Illona Haus, acclaimed owner of Canada’s Scruffy Dog Photography, offers intentive mentoring sessions to photographers. Illona is arguably the best in the biz when it comes to action work and editing, and I think I can speak for all of us pet photographers when I say “how does she doooo that?”.
From her website:
“These comprehensive two- to three-day sessions involve hands-on training, including real-life shooting scenarios with real dogs … not highly-trained models … forcing you to think outside the box and look at your photography in a whole new light. For a total of 24+ intensive, hands-on working hours, the scruffy dog studio is yours, and we cover any and all topics important to your business … from technical aspects of shooting to dog behavior, setting dogs and clients up for success at sessions, location scouting, working available light, workflow and post-production, business discussion ranging from sales and business materials, dealing with clients, ordering sessions, products, packages, branding and marketing, social media, commercial sales, and anything else you can think of! No subject is off limits. Because this is your session, it is focused solely on your needs as a photographer, where your business is at, where your shooting level is at, and what your goals are.”
I personally know that Illona pours her heart and soul into her mentees. If you want an intimate hands-on experience getting knowledge from one the best in the biz who has been prolifically photographing pets for many years, give Illona a shout and get signed up with one of her mentoring sessions.
Illona is currently booking mentoring sessions for the spring of 2014. She books up very far in advance, so if you want to learn from her- contact her now!!
If you don’t already know about Gary Parker’s work, you need to. It’s some of the best dog and cat photography I have ever seen.
Gary Parker is a highly successful multi-award-winning commercial dog and cat photographer, with a career spanning 30 years, whose client list includes such greats as Purina, Heinz, Pfizer, Pedigree, Nabisco, and Iams.
Gary recently announced plans to teach a dog photography workshop, through his website Swamp Dog Photography Workshops. Send him an email through this blog post, and get on board with this workshop. This is one you don’t want to miss!
Additional pet photography business resources:
For those needing help with their pet photography but don’t have the time or money to attend a workshop, consider one of the following resources, which you can read in the comfort of your PJs at home, at a price that is easy on the wallet.
A 95-page e-book filled with a wealth of information on pet photography, including working with dogs, gear and equipment, photography techniques, running a session, session planning, picking locations, and so much more. Click on Charlotte’s name above to purchase this great guide.
Cowbelly Pet Photography Beautiful Beasties book:
My book, Beautiful Beasties: A Creative Guide to Modern Pet Photography. (350+ Pages) The book has several chapters you may find helpful: ‘Post-production’, ‘Going Pro’, and ‘Business Essentials’.
The ‘Post-Production’ chapter covers: Establishing a digital workflow, and quickly and efficiently culling and editing in Lightroom, Tips on how and when to use Photoshop to your best advantage and what it can do that Lightroom can’t, Common editing errors newbie pet photographers make.
The ‘Going Pro’ chapter covers: The start-up process from A-Z- every step you need to do to get your pet photography business up and running. A foolproof 10-step portfolio building process: how to do it and for how long, what to emphasize, important steps to take along the process, what to charge, when and how to change prices, the best recipe for future success, and how to start a pet photography business the right way. Start-up and ongoing expenses, and how to keep your costs low. Pre-shoot and post-shoot client process. Every step is outlined, from their initial phone call or email, to when they receive their products in the mail, both on the client-side and in-house.
The ‘Business Essentials’ chapter covers: Pricing products for profit, which is what separates your business from a hobby. What not to charge, and how to create pricing for various products. Different products to offer that your clients will love, you can proudly stand behind, and won’t leave you confused or overwhelmed by all the different photo product options out there. Branding: how to set your business apart from the competition, and create both a look and a name for yourself that expresses who you are. Marketing: a variety of different successful marketing strategies, including grass-roots, low or no cost marketing. A list of businesses to network with and create complementary marketing partnerships with, and how to quickly and effectively grow word of mouth.
Some other fun parts of the book are: working with ‘Stage-mom’ owners (i.e. difficult clients), pet photography don’ts that will give away your lack of experience, challenges galore in pet photography, ten ideas for getting variety in every session, and creating and finding your own unique artistic voice. There are also exercises at the end of every chapter to help you practice what you learn in the book.
For less than $20 you can have a wealth of information in this book that will get you started on the right path in your career.
Go check out the workshops and mentoring I listed above, and please share this post with all of your pet photography colleagues on the forums, Facebook walls and blogs you frequent so they can have the benefit of learning about great educational programs too. Thank you so much and best wishes on your career!