For the majority of my clients, when they come to me for pet photography, it’s the first time they have had professional photos taken of their pet.
They aren't sure what to expect or how the whole process works. They have many questions but often aren't sure what to ask and what they need to be on the lookout for.
Because of this I've decided to compile a list of the Top 7 Questions You Should Ask Your Pet Photographer Before You Hire Them. These questions should give you a basic understanding of some things to look out for and know before you hire your photographer.
Should this be the only thing you want to know?... Of course not. But price is generally the first thing that everyone asks me and it's for a good reason. There's no point progressing much further if your budget is one thing and the photographers prices don't begin until after that price.
Once you've established their prices you're better able to determine whether you want to proceed. Maybe your favourite photographer exceeds your budget but you’re happy to save up and then hire them because you know they’ll get you the photos you want. Or perhaps you’re happy to go with your second or third choice who you’re not as excited to work with but they fit within your budget.
So by knowing the price you're able to make an informed decision about what you want to prioritise and go from there.
2. Do They Shoot On Location Or In A Studio
Where your photos are taken and the style of a photographer plays a lot into the final look of your images. So you need to know up front what types of images you’re looking for.
On Location Photography - Is outdoors, usually in a park, the beach or another location that may be special to you. This type of photography is weather dependant but your dog gets to run, explore and play, basically be a dog, while being photographed in their natural element.
Oftentimes they can also come to you and photograph your pet at your home, where they are most comfortable. Some like me - offer two locations for your session. For example, we can start in your home and then move to a secondary location like the park or beach so that you get more variety in your images.
Studio - Means just that. Photographs are taken in a studio setting. Usually against a coloured or black or white backdrop. This type of photography is great for highlighting the features of your pet and getting those classic shots.
It's important to know what each photographer offers so that you can determine which style suits you and your own style more. Would you prefer the dignified images that studios can offer you or do you prefer the more natural, goofy antics showing your pet’s personality for your photos.
3. How Does It Work? What’s The Process For Working With You?
Once you've decided which photographer you want to book it's important to know their process. You probably have many questions like - how does this work? How do I pay you? Do you accept credit cards? Do you need to know anything about me and my dog before the session? Do I have to call you? Do we have to meet before the session or is the session the first time we'll be meeting? Do I need to bring anything? Should I wash the dog beforehand. How do I pick what day I want my session to be. The list goes on...
All these questions are completely normal. This is probably the first time you are doing something like this, so of course you have questions.
Each photographer’s process will be different, just as it would be if two different chefs were asked to make the same dish - they each have their own spin on it.
But it's the photographer’s job to guide you through this process as painlessly as possible while answering all your questions. In fact, they should be pre-empting a lot of these concerns and letting you know the answers with their process (before you have asked) as they have done this many times in the past.
If you look at my website - I actually have a page called ‘How It Works’. This takes you through the process of booking with me step by step and shows you what you can expect.
4. When Can I See My Photos?
Ooooo... this is the exciting part. When will you get to see your images for the first time? Again this process is different for each photography business but for me, it's at your Ordering Appointment.
This is generally two weeks after your session and my clients love this part because I come to your home (for your convenience) or if you prefer, a coffee shop, and you get to see your images for the very first time!
You’ll be shown a slideshow of all your images first so that you experience them fully before you have to go in and choose your favourites.
Then I'll guide you through the process as you select your favourites and choose which images you want in your album or hanging on your wall or perhaps you'd prefer a digital collection.
The choice is up to you - you can design your perfect package that suits your needs specifically.
5. What Sessions Do You Offer? What’s The Difference Between Them?
Some pet photographers offer different types of session, each with different inclusions. Some have longer timeframes, some are shorter sessions, some allow more pets, some only one.
When looking to book a photographer it's important that you understand exactly what you get in each session option in terms of amounts of hours, people, pets etc as well as why you might need a longer session as opposed to a 30 minute session.
For example, I have both a 30 minute Petite Session and 2 hour Classic Session available. Not only do those differ in price and what's included (no. of pets, no. of locations, variety in your images etc) but they also differ in what you can expect to receive - image wise.
The Petite session is limited in variety and is mostly portraits without a lot of action shots but is perfect for someone only looking for one large statement canvas wall art to hang over their lounge or a few digital files.
Whereas the Classic session will offer much more variety in images from posed to action, to with and without the owner and many more. Which is perfect for someone looking for an album or a canvas collection for over their mantel. Or perhaps a larger digital collection with more variety.
The choice is up to you so make sure you understand exactly what you can expect from each session type and choose accordingly.
6. My dog... can't sit still / is scared of people / can't be let off lead. How do you deal with this during the session?
There isn't a one size fits all approach to shooting pets. Each pet is unique and they each come with their own quirks and personality. As such your photographer should be prepared to handle any type of situation and should have a process in place to learn more about your pet before the session. This way they can be prepared on the day.
Some pets are shy and take a while to warm up to me and the camera, others bound right over, eager to make a new friend.
Whatever type of personality your pet has, make sure that you tell your photographer beforehand and get their feedback on how they will approach the situation with your dog specifically.
7. What’s Your Timeline?
Find out whether your photographer has a timeline of events. Do you know how the process works from paying your session retainer to having your order delivered? When can you expect each stage to occur?
Having a timeline / outline of events gives you something to refer back to when you have a question about how everything works or what you can expect next.
Of course, sometimes a timeline will be blown out due to unforeseen circumstances but in that instance your photographer should still keep you informed of any new developments or potential delays.
For example, here is my basic timeline. Client’s receive a more comprehensive version but this will give you a general idea.
Step One - Session retainer paid and contract signed
Step Two - Book session date
Step Three - Choose session location
Step Four - Have your session
Step Five - Ordering Appointment (2 weeks after session)
Step Six - Delivery (2-6 weeks after Ordering Appointment - depending on what was ordered)
Timelines help keep everyone informed and on the same page so that you aren't left in the dark wondering what you have to do next or when you can expect to receive something.
Those are my top 7 questions you should ask your photographer before you hire them. You may have more questions and that’s ok. I’ve always been of the belief that there is no such thing as a stupid question so make sure if you aren’t sure or want further clarification on something to ask. I’m here to help you.
And if you’re ready to book now - you can contact me here.
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