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What does a Pet Photographer do?

By Lauren Romano
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A pet photographer focuses on taking pictures of pets as opposed to, or in addition to, humans. While some photographers take pictures of the animals in their studios, others prefer to do the shoot at the pet’s home or on location, such as in a park or a field. Many pet photographers focus strictly on dogs and cats while others work with any type of pet an owner wants photographed.

Considering the unpredictable nature of pets, a pet photographer must understand that animals do not respond as humans would. It is not as simple as telling the animal to sit a certain way and turn the head slightly, then getting the perfect photograph. They are not as easy to maneuver into a specific pose as humans are, so many times, a pet photographer needs to be able to work with each animal for an extended period and have an extreme amount of patience to get the perfect photograph.

A pet photographer does not necessarily have to have professional training; however, it does not hurt. What is required is to have a way with pets, to be able to capture their essence in a way that reflects them best and in a way that the owner is happy with. In some cases, simply taking pet photos for family and friends snowballs into a full-blown career.

Pet photographers may not work full-time hours; some prefer to work part time. Each photographer may have a certain amount of time for each pet, while others take as much time as necessary to get a great photograph. In some cases, considering the random nature of pets, a photographer may have a very limited number of appointments per day in order to accommodate clients' needs.

Pet photography is a great way to make a living for someone who has a passion for photography and animals. A pet photographer must have a creative streak. In some cases, they may need to provide pet costumes, backdrops or specific photo editing skills and be able to form it all into an outstanding photograph.

In most cases, a pet is not just an animal, but a part of the family. A pet photographer helps to capture the image of the beloved pets in a way that encompasses who they are so they can be remembered as they lived even after they have passed on. A professionally done photograph is a treasured gift and keepsake to the owner that they can hold onto and display for a lifetime.

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Discussion Comments
By cloudel — On Mar 11, 2012

@Oceana - I dream of becoming a famous pet photographer. I love looking at books of dog photos like the one you mentioned.

I have a way with animals. Dogs especially take to me like they've known me all their lives. I've taken a few photos of my family's dogs, and they turned out to be beautiful.

I even won a pet photo contest with a local magazine. I will be going to college to study photography next year, and this will be the beginning of my journey to my dream. I hope that I can one day make dogs do awesome things for photographs, because this could solidify my career.

By lighth0se33 — On Mar 11, 2012

My cousin studied fine art photography in college, and she landed a job making pet photos for calendars. She works for a major corporation, and she is responsible for many of the puppy and kitten photos that you see in calendars for sale in bookstores.

She will often take an entire day to do one shoot. This means working with one or two animals who will appear in the same photo for several hours. This increases her chances of getting the perfect photo.

She basically snaps several shots in a row every time she has them in a good pose or doing something cute. Chances are that at least one of them will turn out perfect, and if the calendar company can't use them all at once, it will save them for future issues.

By StarJo — On Mar 10, 2012

I became a pet photographer out of necessity. I studied art in college, and I was really good at doing charcoal drawings of dogs. Several of my friends wanted me to draw their dogs, but they had no good photos of them.

I volunteered to take the photos to draw from, since it is impossible to draw a dog in person, because they move around constantly. It worked out to be for the best, because I could get the angles that would work best for my drawing.

Now, my pet art business has expanded. If people give me photos of their dogs that are not ideal for drawing, I volunteer to come take photos myself. I do about as many professional pet photographs for money now as I do drawings.

By Oceana — On Mar 09, 2012

There is a famous pet photographer whose work focuses on Weimaraners. I have one of his books of photography, and it is basically art for him.

Weimaraners are excellent subjects, because of their silver color and blue-green eyes. They are very striking in person and even more so in a photo.

This pet photographer started out by taking photos of his own Weimaraners with strange backdrops and costumes. He even had them sit on top of blocks and do various other things you wouldn't expect a pet to do, and he captured it all on film.

So, what started as a hobby for capturing the essence of his own dogs turned into a very lucrative career. You never know what can happen.

By John57 — On Mar 09, 2012

Being a pet photographer sounds like a perfect fit for me. I love taking pictures and I love animals. I think taking pictures of pets would be easier and more enjoyable than taking pictures of people.

I took some pictures of one of my friend's horses, and they really turned out good. This is something I would to pursue further, but don't know the best way to go about it.

Are there very many pet photographer jobs available? It almost sounds like you would be better off starting your own business on the side and see how it would grow.

I can't imagine you could make a living starting out just taking pictures of pets.

By myharley — On Mar 09, 2012

I was invited to a party at somebody's house that I didn't know very well, but decided to go anyway. This person had professional pet portraits in almost every room of her house.

I love my dogs, and am all for getting great pictures of them, but I thought this was a little over the top.

These were big pictures that were matted and in expensive frames. I have often heard of some of the extremes people go to for their pets. As far as something like professional pictures of them, the pet really could care less.

In some of the pictures she had them dressed up in costumes and it just looked kind of ridiculous to me. My dogs would probably never allow me to dress them up in costumes. If I did, I don't know how well they would sit and behave for a bunch of pictures on top of it.

By julies — On Mar 08, 2012

My kids are grown and out of the house, so my pets have become like my children. It seemed like no matter how many pictures I took, I wasn't able to really capture their essence or personalities like I wanted to.

I was either too fast or too slow, or the lighting and angle wasn't just right.

I know this sounds crazy to some people, but I hired a pet portrait photographer to come to our house and take pictures of my pets.

I figured they would be much more relaxed in the environment they are used to. I didn't want anything fancy like costumes or backdrops, but wanted to capture their personalities in a natural setting they were used to.

We live on several acres so there are many perfect places to get great pictures. They all have their favorite places too, so it wasn't hard to come up with different backgrounds for the pictures.

This was worth it for me because I ended up getting exactly what I was hoping for, and will always have these pictures as great memories.

By SarahSon — On Mar 07, 2012

My daughter is not a professional pet photographer, but really has an eye and talent for taking pictures. She has taken many senior pictures for several friend and family members.

Many of them like to include their pet in some of their pictures. My daughter always enjoys this because she loves animals.

She has some interesting stories to tell, but quite honestly, she has to have more patience with some of the people than the pets.

Most of the pets are easy to work with, and with the right motivation (such as treats), they will easily do what she needs them to. Some of the teenage girls, on the other hand, are never pleased and can really try my daughter's patience.

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