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How to Start a Pet Photography Business (6 Major Tips)

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Pictures of pets are some of the most popular internet searches of all time. If you have a passion for animals and photography, starting a pet photography business sounds like an ideal life move.
Why not create the photographs everyone talks about? What could be better than waking up every morning to photograph puppies? For some, nothing.
However, much like any other business endeavour, there are things to consider before going down this road.
Here is our list of six things to keep in mind before starting a pet photography business. You don’t want to find these out when it’s too late!
Pet photography business example, portrait of 6 dogs standing on a bench with a forest in the background

Owning a Pet Photography Business is 10% Photography, 90% Business

As much as we all wish that photography were only about rising with the sun to take beautiful pictures, the unfortunate reality is that any creative endeavour is still as much a business as a legal practice or a department store.
Much of your time will be filled running errands, dealing with contracts, finding creative ways to garner new business, hours of editing work, and so on.
black and white photo of a horse looking out from a stable
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a one-person show or a team, an on-location photographer or a studio, working out of your home or in a business space – your business duties will be there regardless.
In order to be profitable in the current business climate, you must be just as business savvy as you are photography savvy. You will have to become well acquainted with the back-end of the business.
I’d highly recommend taking a few business courses before officially filing as a business. Or try interning with an established pet photographer to see the ins and outs of being a professional!
This is something I wish I had done when I first started out rather than fumbling through years of mistakes.
Fun pet portrait of two Dalmatian puppies running on grass and playing with pink and blue rope
That being said, don’t be discouraged by this. Pet photography is, and always will be, the primary focus of all that you do!
Your days will still be filled with wonderful furry friends, and you’ll find yourself feeling proud of all of the hard work you’re doing in order to create lifelong photographic memories.
Cat pictures, dog pictures, even parrot pictures will fill your walls, your hard drive, and your computer indefinitely.

Be Prepared to Become an Expert Marketer

playful pet photography business shot of a grey dog lying on the grass and facing the camera
The primary issue with starting a photography business is finding ways to have a consistent client flow. In order to do so, you’ll need to find a way to stand out from the other photographers in your area and find a way to inform potential clients of your services.
All of this boils down to one key subject: Marketing.
This means promoting and selling products or services (your photography skills in this case), including market research and advertising.
Marketing is how you reach your target demographics (a particular sector of a population), expand your business, build your reputation, and differentiate yourself from the competition.
portrait photo of a small goat looking out from a white door frame
Marketing includes a large variety of techniques, ideas, and actions. It can mean creating and distributing ads, cross promoting with local businesses, using social media to interact with the world, referral programs, and building your reputation.
This will encourage both current and future clients to come back to you again and again. And to refer their friends to you!
You won’t get very far in the pet photography business without some expert marketing skills. Research your competition, research successful marketing strategies, and research your industry. Knowledge is power, you can never have too much of it.
Taking the available information and turning it into a marketing strategy is the ultimate key for building your business.
overhead portrait of a white dog looking up
That being said, you must be great at your craft to begin with. Never stop learning more about photography, and always strive to do better and be better. Marketing only works when you have the solid skill and talent behind it.

You’ll be Cleaning a Lot

playful pet photography business example showing of a little black and white dog running through the grass towards the camera with blurry natural background
Cleanliness and sanitation are important, whether you’re working out of your bedroom or have your own studio. In pet photography, this is even more important. You’ll find yourself cleaning a lot after each and every client!
Dogs, cats, and even small critters are very messy. If they can’t find a way to get you dirty, they’ll find a way to make your equipment or shooting space dirty. As such, you’ll be cleaning off your cameras and lenses, backdrops, and even yourself a lot.
bright pet portrait of 5 brown dogs looking towards the camera in a rocky mountainous background
As well as this, sanitation is important to prevent pets from passing on diseases to one another, or passing an illness to you. Reptiles can carry bacteria that is toxic to humans, dogs can pass horrible ailments such as the life-threatening parvovirus to one another, and horses can pass on sicknesses to us.
Washing your hands, keeping your equipment clean, and ensuring the shooting space is free of anything the previous client may have brought in is super important.

Lawyers and Accountants Will Become Your Best Friends

portrait of 2 small terriers sitting on a garden chair
Starting a business is an investment. You’ll be putting in money, time, and energy.
All good investments start with a team of experts to ensure that all goes well, and advise you on what the next smart move is. As such, finding a good lawyer and accountant is key.
The lawyer can help you navigate everything from contracts to filing for a business. The accountant will keep your finances in order and aid you during the headache known as tax season.
Without these two, you may find yourself drowning more often than swimming!

You’ll be Expanding Your Equipment Arsenal Quickly

photo of a black and white Great Dane in an urban setting, in front of a water fountain
To keep up with client demand, industry standards, and your own advancing skills, you’ll find yourself either adding or trading your equipment often.
Everyone outgrows their equipment eventually. They’ve either become better, want something better, or the equipment itself has gotten too old.
Essentially, interest in upgrading equipment comes from someone’s image-quality criteria and career demands. As well as this, the more you work as a photographer, the more you realise what additional gear you’re going to need in order to continue or increase your quality standards.
photo of a brown horse looking towards the camera, with blurry natural background
As such, start making extra room in your camera closet because you’ll be adding a lot to it soon.
A good way to upgrade equipment is to develop relationships with your equipment company of choice, selling old gear, renting gear, or sharing gear with other local photographers.

Customer Service Will Either Make or Break You

Playful pet portrait of a Border Collie dog lying on the grass with blue ball
It’s true. How you talk to people will impact your future success. Understanding how to speak to, take care of, and handle clients is fundamental. Photography is a service industry, and as such, much of what we do revolves around those we, well, service.
Additionally, making sure that your customer is confident in your ability to work and handle their pet is crucial. You need to show compassion, understanding, kindness, and sensitivity.
You need to develop a good rapport with them so they ask for your photography services in the future as well.
pet portrait of a Golden retriever in a grassy landscape

Bonus Tip: You’ll find a Unique Style All Your Own

After opening a pet photography business, you’ll begin to develop your own very unique style. This is because the nature of running a business requires you to find what you’re really good at and bring that to the forefront.
Partner that with constantly photographing new, beautiful, fun, and unique animals and you have a formula for the greatest gift of all. Your own style.
For more great tips for better pet photos, check out our recent post on what’s in a pet photographers bag.
pet photography on the beach, small brown and white dog lying on the sand with the ocean in the background

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