Pet Photography Career: A Cash Cow

If you spend a lot of time browsing through entertainment magazines such as US Weekly or People, you have noticed the recent trend for celebrities to be photographed with their pets. Pet photography has taken Hollywood by storm, and is now making its way into the rest of America.

Pet photographers are specialized photographers who work only with pets. Most pet photographers limit themselves to dogs and cats, but some may work with any type of animal. Pet photographers will normally have the pet owner bring the pet into a photo studio. The photographer will create special backdrops or settings in which to photograph the pet. Some pet photographers will “go on location” and shoot pictures of the pet in its natural environment or other areas. After the photo shoot (or sitting) takes place, the pet photographer must develop the film, digitally manipulate the photos, and make proof prints to show the customer. Then, the photographer will make prints based upon customer request. The pet photographer may even help the client find suitable mattes and frames for the pictures.

In addition to the many challenges that come with photography, a pet photographer must also contend with animals who are often unpredictable. Some pet photographers hire assistants who work as behaviorists, or handlers, of the pets.
First and foremost, pet photographers should have an extreme appreciation for and love of different types of pets. A PET PHOTOGRAPHER should not only be skilled in the art of photography, but he/she should also understand animal behavior. He/She should be knowledgeable about different types of pets, including commons breeds of dogs and cats. The abilities to operate photography equipment, printing/developing machines, and graphic design software are also key to being successful in this occupation.

No formal degree is required to become a PET PHOTOGRAPHER. However, college degrees in photography and graphic design are extremely helpful to ensuring success.

If you are interested in becoming a PET PHOTOGRAPHER, high school and/or college courses in photography, graphic design, chemistry, art, and animal behavior or science are strongly recommended. Also, any on-the-job-training courses or experiences that teach how to operate camera equipment, develop film, and/or digitally publish images would come in handy.

Most PET PHOTOGRAPHERS are self-employed. Usually, they charge an initial sitting fee that ranges from $50 to $200, depending upon the number of animals, type of animals, and number of minutes involved in the photography session.
Then, the photographer will charge the customer per print ordered. Pictures can be ordered in different sizes individually, or can be ordered in a package. A typical package that includes wallet sized pictures, 5 x 7’s, 8 x 10’s, and/or 11 x 14’s can range from $200-$1000 for a basic package.

Obviously, the salary will vary with the number of clients each photographer has. However, it is reasonable to compare a PET PHOTOGRAPHER’s annual salary with that of any other type of photographer in the COIN system.

In recent years, the pet industry has blossomed. Pet styling, pet grooming, and pet photography are all high-profile businesses, especially in wealthy areas in California and New York. More photographers specializing in pet photography will be needed over the coming years, although specific projection numbers are unavailable at this time.

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