Posts Tagged ‘take better pictures’

Pet Photography Q and A with Andrew Darlow

Andrew Darlow, pro photographer and author of the book:
Pet Photography 101: Tips for Taking Better Photos of Your
Dog or Cat (Focal Press) has kindly agreed to answer some
of our readers' questions on the subject of pet photography.

Pet Photography Q & A (Questions by Shuttermom readers and Shuttermom
University members, Answers by Andrew Darlow)

Hello! First, I'd like to thank Cindy Bracken and everyone who asked
a question for me to answer for this article-that makes my job much
easier! I've been photographing and making prints of people and their
pets for over 10 years, and over that time period, I've learned a lot
about what works and what doesn't work. Of course, I'll be sharing my
own opinions, and what has worked for me may not always work for you.
So without further ado, let's get the treat ball rolling…

Q: How do I get my pet photography business going?

A: Pet Photography, like other forms of portrait photography, can be
handled in many ways. I'm going to assume that you have the technical
part down, and you want to focus on the business side of things.
Definitely start with the great resources inside of ShutterMom University
(but I'm guessing you know that!). One way to quickly start getting
assignments is to begin by contacting pet-related businesses.
Groomers are at the top of my list. One idea is to work with
a groomer to set aside a specific day in which you do a photo session
for no sitting fee (or a low sitting fee), but if the client likes
one or more of the photos (which you should show to them on a nice laptop
or other screen), they can be offered a few specific packages. One
approach is to make the packages available only if they order that day
(or a discount/special offer can be offered). Of course, they can order
more later, but I think that taking the order right after the photo shoot
is the best approach.  It's also important to have at least one example
of everything you are planning to offer.

Other good pet-related businesses are Vets, dog and cat daycare/boarding
facilities, training facilities/obedience schools and and stores who sell
pet-related products. 

After the photo shoot, you can put the photos up on a site that helps
photographers display and sell their prints and other products, but it's
even better to meet with people in person if possible at your studio or
their home (with a projector and screen or large screen monitor/TV).
I use Zenfolio for online proofing/sales, and I'm very happy with it
overall. You can see a non-password protected gallery on my Zenfolio
site here:

Q: I love photographing pets. What about outfits? Should I supply them?
I would like to keep costs down.

A: I don't think you should supply any outfits for the pets. I would,
however, recommend that you ask the pets' owners to bring a few outfits.
I would also ask them to keep their clothing choices in mind if they
want to be photographed together with their pet. They don't have to
match their pet(s), but they should compliment each other.
Accessories are a different story, and very useful. I would have
some pet-safe sunglasses, a few different types of hats, and pet-safe
items that fit in with the season, depending on the time of year.
A plastic cupid's arrow is a good example for Valentine's Day, and
bunny ears are a perennial favorite for either Easter or Halloween.
I would keep backgrounds and tables (ideal for small dogs) simple.
Brown muslin backdrops are good, as are beige, black, red and purple
silk-like, wrinkle free fabrics-check fabric stores for these.
See my Zenfolio sample gallery linked above for some examples.

Q: I always have trouble with white dogs and cats. In the home studio,
there's no problem, but at the location pet store we do shoots (with
the overhead flourescent lights), they just don't come out the same.

A: I would re-create the light you use in the home studio instead of
relying on the store's lighting. As long as you set your aperture to
about f/8 and shoot at 1/125 sec. at about 200-400ASA, you should be able
to make the flash do all the work (essentially negating the effect of
the store's lighting). There are many good portable flash units and
portable power options as well. The other advice I'd give is not to
photograph white dogs and cats on a white surface. Instead choose just
about anything else. Having some falloff from one side (not lighting
them straight on) can also help give their fur more detail, and the
photos will just look more natural (similar to daylight streaming in
from a window).

Q: What is a good getting started price to charge? 

A: I don't have a good answer for this, because there are so many
variables. You can see what others in your area are charging to get
some idea of the market, but pricing is really about what you need to
charge to stay in business and keep moving forward in both slow times a
and busy times. Also consider your taxes, overhead, insurance, etc.

Q: What are some tricks to use to get pets attention? 

A: I recently wrote a whole article on this topic, so I think it's
best to just link to it:

Q: How do you keep from getting green glow eyes?

A: The best way is not to use on-camera flash, and if you do use flash,
keep it at least about a foot away from the lens. To remove
red-eye/green-eye, there are a few options. You can
generally use the same tools as those used for human red-eye.
Another option is to use "Replace Color" in Photoshop CS4 or CS5.
Just target the green and change its color to something more appropriate.

BIO- Andrew Darlow

Andrew Darlow is photographer, writer and digital imaging consultant.
He is editor of, an online imaging blog/magazine.
His photography and technical articles have been featured in numerous
magazines and websites, including Photo District News, PDN Gear
Guide, Popular Photography, Rangefinder, Professional Photographer,
Studio Photography and iMagazine (Japan).

Over the past 15 years, he has taught thousands how to improve their
photography, workflow and digital print output at conferences, industry
events, and educational institutions, including the PDN PhotoPlus Expo,
PhotoImaging & Design Expo, the Arles Photo Festival (Arles, France),
the School of Visual Arts, Columbia University, and the International
Center of Photography ICP) in New York.

His book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource
for Photographers, (Course Technology PTR) was chosen as the winner in the
"Photography: Instructional/How-To" category of The National Best Books
2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. Free excerpts and the table of
contents are available for download on the book's companion site at

His newest book, Pet Photography 101: Tips for Taking Better Photos of
Your Dog or Cat (Focal Press) covers tips and techniques for photographing
people and their pets. Excerpts and more info can be found at

Follow him on Twitter:
or Facebook:

Depth Of Field Explained

Photography lesson: How to get beautiful shallow depth of field portraits. In this video, Mark explains “depth of field” and how to get that beautiful blurry background in your portraits. Find out how to use the aperture control on your lens and start taking better portraits.  Enjoy the video, and be sure to join us over at Shuttermom University for more photo tips and photography business coaching.  See you there!

Adorama TV: DSLR Video Tips

In this episode of Adorama Photography TV presents, Mark talks about shooting DSLR video. This episode’s topics include stability, focus, camera movement, and controlling light entering the lens.  Enjoy the video, and remember to join us over at Shuttermom University for more photography tips and business coaching!

Adorama TV: Interview with Jason Wallis

Adorama TV’s “How’d They Do That?” interviews Jason Wallis about his environmental portraiture.  Enjoy the video, and we’ll see you over at Shuttermom University for more photography tips and photography business coaching.

Kid’s Themed Portraits

Holding a kid’s themed portrait event is a great way to get more business and make a nice profit in a short amount of time.  If you haven’t done one, you should definitely consider it!  I’ve made a free video below that will give you some great ideas.  Enjoy the video, and be sure to come join us over at Shuttermom University for more photography business ideas and coaching!  See you there.

Happy Friday! The Weekly Wrap-Up

Another fun week at Shuttermom!

1.  Congratulations to Dawn F. - the winner of the Second Skin Cocoon baby prop from Custom Photo Props!  Look for another great giveaway here on the blog next week.

2.  We are up to 118 new members for May on Shuttermom University.  That means I’ll definitely be giving away a $100 gift card to an online photography store at the beginning of June on S.U.  If we can get that number up to 150 by May 31st, it will be a $200 gift card!  You can join in the fun by becoming a member at

3.  This weekend only:  You can save 50% off of a LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP to Shuttermom University by using coupon code C5A28DF479 when you check out.  Go to, click the “join” button, and input your info along with the coupon code to get your discount!  Once you are a lifetime member, there is nothing more to pay, ever!

4.  Coming next week on Shuttermom University:  A video showing you exactly how to create a winning facebook page for your photo business - including info on how to add a tab for testimonials, how to add an email opt-in box on your fb page, and how to use html to create a landing page for fb that rocks! Look for it on the forum next week.

Thanks everyone!  Have a wonderful weekend.

How to Use SEO and Social Media to Advertise Your Photography Business

Just found this article from PDN and thought you might want to check it out.  From the article:

Photographers who think their Web sites are simply online versions of their print portfolios aren’t taking advantage of the way people use the internet to find information, and look for products and services they want, says Allen Murabayashi of PhotoShelter. The co-founder of the Web site design and hosting service offered tips for making your site  a more effective marketing tool during his video tutorial, “Your Web Site is Killing Your Business,” at the PDN Virtual Trade Show, “Focus on Wedding and Portrait Photography,” on May 25.

You can read the full article here.  In other Shuttermom news, I just added some brand new tips on how to conduct a “Fresh Faces” or “Model Search” contest for your photography business on the Shuttermom University forum. Members, log in to the forum and scroll down to the marketing section to see the tips.  Not a member yet?  Come join in the fun for less than $5 a month!  Just go to Shuttermom University and click the “join” button to get started.  See you there!

Pairing models and photographers for fun shoots

Hi There!
Just came across this article about photographer Mark Anderson of Green Bay who organizes fun photo shoots so that models and photographers can both build their portfolios. This seems like such a fun (and useful) thing to do.  Check and see if there is something similar offered in your city…and if not, why not start something up yourself?

From the article:

Anderson creates themed photo shoots as the founder of STUN Photography Group, a network of area models and the photographers who snap their pictures.

“I seemed to have tapped into something in Green Bay,” he said.

The group began in August as a way for Anderson to learn more about the art. He also runs his own photography business on the side.

For the full article, click here, and be sure to join us over at Shuttermom University for more photography tips and business ideas.  See you there!

Great senior promo video from Larry Peters

I saw this great promo on Larry Peters’ site and wanted to share.  What a great video and marketing tool!  Check it out below, and be sure to visit us over at Shuttermom University for more photography tips and business coaching.  See you there!

Peters Session Movie (a sample session) from Peters Photography on Vimeo.

Great family portrait tips from PhotoDino

I came across this article and wanted to share.  It is full of tips for taking better family / group photos.  Tips include:

1.  Getting everyone as close together as possible (even more so than you might think!)

2.  Everyone should be touching

3.  Letting them get comfy

4.  Taking charge of kid expressions

5.  Not worrying about having everyone looking at the camera, and more!

Click here for the full article on taking better family photos, and be sure to visit us over at Shuttermom University for more photography tips and business coaching!  See you there.

June 2011
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