Why I'm Hiring a Pet Photographer

April 03, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Nope, this isn’t a guest post. I’m really looking to hire a pet photographer. I can hear you asking, But Liz, why are you hiring a pet photographer? Aren’t you a pet photographer? Why do you need to hire someone else? There are just some photos I can’t take. Yes, I can take all sorts of amazing portraits, and action shots, and I can capture the quiet, soulful moments when my girls are sleepy and cuddly, but there are photos I can’t take - I can’t take photos of me interacting with my dogs. One of the things I like to do with my older dog is play “Kissey Face” - and yes it’s exactly like what it sounds; I tell Fi to kiss me, and she licks me on my lips, and I try hard not to laugh, while Fi continues to kiss me. It’s great fun, and something we’ve done ever since she was a puppy. But I can’t play Kissey Face and take photographs at the same time. And while I will never forget the Kissey Face moments, as well as all the other moments where I’m playing with my girls, snuggling with them and loving them, I’d really like to have photos to crystallize those moments.


Julie Bee, a senior dog adopted at the age of 15, enjoying Salt Lake City in winter!


Ordinarily, these photos would be on the “something I’d like to do sometime” list; like a lot of people I’m busy, and I always assume there will be plenty of time to get the photos.  But two weeks agoI discovered a lump in Abby’s armpit.  About 9 months ago, we found a grade 3 mast cell on Abby’s chest, and we had it surgically removed, Abby went through chemo therapy, and she’s now had two sets of clean CT scans, the last 6 weeks ago.  We were confident that Abby was cured, and we’d have plenty of time to get those photos. And we may still have that chance; Abby has had surgery to remove the new lump, she will go through chemo again, and with luck, things will eventually return to normal. But it was another grade 3 mast cell tumor, and even with treatment, there's a chance she'll develop more. So I want to get photos while she is feeling good. Even if she's on a 'limited activity' restriction right now.


Woe is Me!Woe is Me!


I don’t ever want to find myself in the position of regretting that I didn’t get photos of certain memories.  So I’m starting to investigate pet photographers.



So how do I pick a pet photographer?  The same way you pick a pet photographer. And if you haven’t thought much about how to pick a pet photographer (or any photographer, really), here are the questions I ask myself:



  • What style photos do I want? Formal studio photos? Action photos? Documentary (also called “lifestyle” photos)? A combination?  In this case, I want lifestyle photos.  I want photos that capture the normal daily interaction between me and my girls. _DSC4243_DSC4243


  • What kind of products do I want?  Digital files only?  Big wall art? Smaller prints that I would frame? A photo book or albums? Something else? In my case, I want either smaller prints for framing, a photo book, or possibly even a folio box (which is a box that contains a certain number of prints - usually 9-15, mounted or matted). I already have a bunch of large canvases of my dogs, and in this case I’m looking for memories that I might not look at every day, but are easy to flip through when I want to. I don’t want just digital files, because I don’t want something that will sit on a hard drive and that I will never look at again.

Large Folio BoxLarge Folio Box

  • What is my budget? I’m not 100% certain, as I need to discuss it with my husband but I anticipate around $3000 when it is all done. These photos are important to me, I can’t get these photos on my own, and I want them done right. Be honest with yourself; what can you afford? What are you willing to sacrifice to pay for the photos? How important are these photos to you? The more honest you are with yourself, the easier it will be to communicate your budget to potential photographers. And if there is someone else who has input on your budget (spouse, partner, parent, etc.) make sure you are all on the same page about your budget.


I know what I want, mostly because I know what photos I already have.  However, if this is your first time getting professional photos of your pet, you may not know the answers to questions #1 and #2 - and that’s okay.  A professional photographer will ask you questions about your pets, you activities with them, and what you want to capture most.  A professional will also ask you what you want to do with the photos, and talk to you about various options, and, ideally, show you some samples in various sizes, so you can get a sense of what will suit your needs.  The only thing you really need to have figured out when you contact a professional photographer is a sense your budget.  If your entire budget, including the photoshoot, and files (or prints) is firmly set at $100, don’t call a photographer whose sessions start at $150 and don’t include any prints or digital files, and hope that she will drop her price for you; if you really like the photographer’s style and won’t settle for anything else, either consider payment plans or figure out if your daily coffee is really more important than photos that you will enjoy for a lifetime.


Once I’ve answered the above questions, I look for a photographer that can help me get the photos I want.  I’m lucky; I know several pet photographers in the area, and I know one whose lifestyle photography really has the feel that I want.

Liz in ActionLiz in Action

Not my photo; photo courtesy one of my clients!


If I didn’t know photographers, I’d Google pet photographers in my area (I live outside a larger city, so I’d Google photographers in Salt Lake City, as well as Park City, as many pet photographers serve a fairly large area), and I’d ask pet-owning friends.  If my vet’s office or dog daycare has pet photos on display and I like them, I’d find out who the photographer was.  Then, I’d look at websites to see if I like the photographer’s work, and see if I could get a sense of whether the photographer was in my budget or not (most photographers will give you some idea of what you can expect to spend).  Once I had found a photographer or two (or three) that I really like, I’d send an email, or call and see how well I ‘click’ with the photographer, and if we are a good match.


When I talk with the photographer, in addition to the types of products they offer, their availability, and travel policies, I also like to ask about their process - do they want to meet my dogs ahead of time? What is included with the session fee? Will they email me a link to view my photos or do they set up a separate viewing appointment? Do I have to purchase everything at that viewing appointment?  There are a lot of questions to ask, and the more you and your photographer talk, the more confident you’ll be that you are getting exactly what you expected - which means you'll have an experience you can enjoy.

If you’d like photos of you and your pets, contact me at 801-712-3200 or [email protected] - I’m more than happy to answer all your questions!


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