Sorry to disappoint you but there is really is no “BEST” pet photographer - they simply don’t exist and I’ll explain why.
There are lots and lots and lots of pet photographers in Perth, around Australia and around the world, who create amazing images for their clients every day all different and unique in their own creative style, technique and approach. It it totally subjective as to which of these would be considered the BEST. They are ALL awesome in their own way - but the real question is which one is the BEST photographer for you and your precious bundle of fur?
You don’t need to understand whether a photograph was taken on a full frame or crop sensor, what the ISO (light sensitivity and grain), Shutter Speed (freezing or blurring motion) and Aperture (Depth of Field - how much is in focus and sharp) - that’s what the photographer is getting paid for (and on that note remember you do get what you pay for in terms of expertise - so don’t just go for a photographer based on price - do your homework).
START WITH PHOTOGRAPHS YOU LOVE
Pick someone whose photographic style appeals to you - your heart will know what it likes and what type of look to the photography speak to you. Pintrests is a great tool for this. That’s where to start…..not price! Make a specific board of pins you love and add any other images from elsewhere (eg instagram, photographers websites, google etc) so that you start to create your own Mood Board.
CHECK OUT THE SMILE BEHIND THE ARTWORK
Personally, I think it is also much more than just the technical expertise, gear and skill that the photographer has that makes their work really stand out (although mine is absolutely top notch with the latest and greatest).
I truly and believe on a heart level, that the personality and connection between the photographer and you and your fur baby is essential. It needs to be the “right fit” for you guys!!! I can honestly tell you that then and only then do the truely fabulous masterpieces come out - because they get you, you get them, they get your fur baby and that means everyone is comfortable with each other to reveal themselves just as they are perfectly imperfect — that lets me capture the absolute uniqueness of your fur baby star!
WOOFERS DESIGN CONSULTATION - NO OBLIGATION
I’m gonna become your super new BFF and your Dog’s Auntie Karen - no question - when we connect and you feel comfortable to share what is going on for you and your fur baby it helps me understand the situation and in our Woofers Design Consultation we will work out all the juice details and even develop a bespoke “Mood Board” for your shoot (if you haven’t got one together yet) - all at no extra charge! That’s how important this is to me - I don’t want you to hold back on creating those pawfect memories!
For example if you have just had some heartbreaking news that Rainbow Bridge might be getting closer on the horizon we can accommodate the unique needs around that situation (I’ve been there myself!!!). If it’s your fur baby’s first birthday we might organise a BARK DAY Cake Smash or party props. If they are just a huge ball of energy with a big personality, I’lll make sure I get those quirky, silly shots you love of their tongue hanging out or spread eagle on the ground with “no shame” boudoir shots! LOL
The Woofer Design Consultation is totally complimentary, and even if your are not yet 100% sure about booking a session, don’t be afraid to book in for this, there is TOTALLY NO OBLIGATION and nothing to loose!
You can also bring your fur baby for a meet and greet, and that way they can get to know the studio, or park across the road (for larger dogs) so they will be familiar with both me and the surroundings when they come back for their portrait session.
EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH ANIMALS & PHOTOGRAPHING THEM
Don’t fall into the trap of going with someone who just shoots everything (because that probably means they don’t really shoot anything very well or know where their passion or talents lie. Even the person who covered your wedding and did an amazing job, might not do so well with your fur baby’s portraits, because they aren’t usually specifically trained in pet photography and don’t understand Dog psychology and can’t read the body language and signals you fur baby might be sending out! You are not going to get the same level of quality and personality in your pets portraits if the person taking them can’t communicate with their subject. Check your photographer actually has the training and experience for the genre you are wanting.
Experience in working specifically with animals, and having compassion and patience is essential, since they can be a bit overwhelmed or frightened in a strange place with a strange thing being pointed at them…. especially when we call it a SHOOT!
A specialist pet photographer I have years of working with animals under my belt, including obedience training, showing and trials. I understand dog psychology and can read their body language so that we go at their pace and comfort level, ensuring they are relaxed and having a great time.
I ask fur baby pawrents to stay throughout the session, but mostly as a reassurance for your dog. Together with you I will get the best out of them - but ask that you leave the work of positioning them or getting their attention to me - it’s me they need to interact with and that’s where we want them looking.
STYLE AND TIMING - STUDIO OR ON LOCATION
When you look at your Mood Board you will see a certain Style coming through in the images that attract you - are they mostly headshots on minimalist dark or light backgrounds, are they in a studio with props, are the out in the wild free and easy on a beach, in a forest or park? You get the idea. Then you need to find a photographer who specialises in one, the other or both!
West Coast Woofers offer both Studio based and on Location Sessions. Because I enjoy the variety between the more structured, styalised and posed environment of the studio and the absolute freedom and action that comes for including the natural environment and what dogs doing what they do naturally.
There is a lot more work for the photographer with Location Sessions (which is why they cost a little more) because the light can’t be controlled as easily as in the studio, and this often means scoping out locations ahead of time to find the good light, the right timing for the shoot to capture the good light, and of course the weather can often be a factor - sometimes meaning a shoot might have to be rescheduled. I generally offer early morning and late evening times (the golden hour) for On Location shoots as this is when the natural light is at it’s best. Dogs can be on lead and these can be photoshopped out later, or if your dog is obedient you can choose to have them off lead with more freedom.
Studio Shoots are not really suitable for large active dogs and even some smaller anxious dogs can find it stressful. I have only had this happen once when I did a shoot with an advanced aged Cavoodle who paced the whole time and even his family were unable to settle him, so we kept the shoot very short and still got some amazing images for his family who were over the mood.
Although scheduling times for studio session are far more flexible since you aren’t reliant on natural light there are limits in the amount of backdrops, props and physical room available. For many photographers who rent commercial space their prices can be higher for studio shoots, but in my case I have a home studio so my prices are actually lower!!!
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR IMAGES AFTERWARDS
Before you book a pet photography session ask yourself this question…
after the photos have been taken, and you have chosen your absolute favourites and must have shots, what will you actually do with them? You don’t need to have exact answers, and it’s okay if your are unsure, but you do need an idea of why your are wanting these photographs taken in the first place.
Some photographers only offer digitals, others don’t offer digitals at all.
I used to be a part of the “Shoot and Burn Brigade” when I first turned professional two and a half years ago because it was less work with less overheads. But I quickly realised these were not the clients I wanted to work with. Their images were on USB that when they came back to see me for another shoot, were still on that USB hiding in a drawer somewhere, where no one could ever see them. It was soul destroying for me to think my Artworks were hidden away, with a high potential of being lost in the world of technology. I do still offer digital packages, and images purchased are gifted to my clients as digitals and social media files, but my focus is on creating Artwork for you to enjoy in your home each day and be able to easily show friends and family, flicking through an album, or displayed in frames or on your walls as Wall Art.
I you like me, think your fur baby deserves wall space, then make sure the photographer you choose offers products and collections for your to choose from. Have a look at what they offer ahead of time to ensure you are happy with the range and quality of their products.
MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL
When you have finally made your mind up that a pet photography shoot is what you want to do for you and your fur baby, and what you want to do with those images afterwards then you have to figure out what you can afford or are willing to spend on the experience. What is your fur baby worth in terms of creating memories and photographs to treasure for your lifetime? It’s important for you to know what your are comfortable spending.
Like any other purchase , pet photography can range from very cheap $49 shoots through to very expensive $10,000 shoots.
Most professional pet photographers who specialise will be a bit more expensive, because the value their time, training and expertise and know you will be getting higher quality outcomes and products from their services, but will still over a range to suit different budgets. Most photographers will have at least a “starting from” price on their website, especially if they are a boutique or bespoke service, because it depends on what the client actually wants as to what things will cost. Others might have a full pricelist or packages available (these will generally be the lower end offerings or shoot and burn brigade - where it’s about quantity over quality).
As a ballpark most people spend $1000 or more on their pet photography experience with West Coast Woofers as they are wanting luxury products to showcase their beautiful images.
At our Woofers Design Consultation we have our Curated Product Guide available to look through with all our offerings and pricing so there are no nasty shocks after you book and have your session.
Sometimes people to assume because West Coast Woofers is a Luxury Boutique Pet Photography Studio, that they couldn’t afford us or would be out of their budget. But if they are brave enough to book their obligation free, complimentary Woofers Design Appointment, e will be out of their budget, but once they see the products I offer and the level of care and first class service they and their Fur Babies are given, they are not only very comfortable but usually very pleasantly surprised with the bottom line.
From time to time we also offer specific exclusive offers. If you sign up on our website www.westcoastwoofers.com.au you will always be ahead of the pack on these through the DAILY PAW - our news, events and behind the scenes blog.