Since I announced my plans to retire from teaching back in January, some of my colleagues have expressed disappointment that they never got the chance to take a pet photography workshop from me, BUT, I am here to say that doesn’t have to mean that pet photographers can’t still get fantastic information from terrifically talented, highly experienced photographers and business owners! I’m so thrilled to be able to recommend such great resources to my colleagues: dog photography workshops, consulting and mentoring. I knew it was just a matter of time before there were some other really wonderful educational resources out there, and here they are, in all their glory.
Here are my top 5 picks for pet photography workshops, consulting and mentoring that I wholeheartedly recommend, endorse and believe in. If you are a pet photographer looking for a wonderful, experienced, successful teacher, please consider signing up for one of the following:
1. Paw Print Divas Pet Photography Workshops
Talented, successful, creative, driven, caring and compassionate are all words I would use to describe teachers Barbara Breitsameter, Kim Hartz and Jenny Froh, the gals behind the newish (and wildly successful) Paw Print Divas intensive 4-day pet photography workshops. Their workshop covers business and marketing on day 1, and is followed by three full days of shooting at a variety of different locations.
Their most recent workshop was in Houston Texas and the next is rumored to be held at a fantastic uh-mayzing location that I am so excited about for the attendees I’m just dying to share (I can share it now- it’s Lake Tahoe!!). It’s going to be outta-this-world awesome. Really, from what I know about the next one, you need to be there, and will be so disappointed if you aren’t. They are working on organizing it for late summer/fall, so if you are interested, definitely send them an email to get on the notification list. Read more about these amazing workshops and talented women by clicking the link to their workshop website above.
2. Norah Levine Pet Photography Workshops through Santa Fe Workshops
Although Norah has been a professional pet photographer for over 10 years, I just recently found out about her work and her workshop, and I have to say, my socks were knocked off by what I saw.
From the Santa Fe Workshops website:
“Enjoy four days in beautiful Santa Fe exploring a genre that is both challenging and rewarding: photographing pets on location. In this workshop, we focus on the planning and production of a commissioned pet portrait. Sharing the tricks of the trade, Norah emphasizes the importance of using props, forging a playful connection between photographer and subject, and discerning the all-important details regarding a pet’s behavior and its environment. Most significantly, Norah addresses strategies for solving the unique problems that often arise when dealing with animals during a photography session. Working with a variety of animals, including domestic pets and horses, we learn how to apply the many different techniques that Norah uses as a successful pet photographer.
Participants work individually and collectively on daily assignments, followed by group critiques and discussions of lighting, composition, and style. Classroom time also touches on creative approaches to pet portraiture, as well as troubleshooting unexpected technical issues. Assignments include photographing horses on a local ranch, interacting with people and pets in their environments, and creating imagery at a non-profit animal organization.
By the end of the workshop you have acquired a unique set of people and pet skills, and are able to translate those skills into compelling and marketable imagery.”
Norah has a workshop coming up July 31st-August 3rd, 2013. If you are looking to improve your skills with someone who has built a successful career doing what she loves, read more details about the workshop on the Santa Fe Workshops website linked above, and register right on the site. This is one you won’t want to miss!
3. Illona Haus- Scruffy Dog Photography 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 intensive mentoring sessions
Illona Haus, acclaimed owner of Canada’s Scruffy Dog Photography, offers intentive mentoring sessions to photographers. Illona is arguably the best in the biz when it comes to action work and editing, and I think I can speak for all of us pet photographers when I say “how does she doooo that?”.
From her website:
“These comprehensive two- to three-day sessions involve hands-on training, including real-life shooting scenarios with real dogs … not highly-trained models … forcing you to think outside the box and look at your photography in a whole new light. For a total of 24+ intensive, hands-on working hours, the scruffy dog studio is yours, and we cover any and all topics important to your business … from technical aspects of shooting to dog behavior, setting dogs and clients up for success at sessions, location scouting, working available light, workflow and post-production, business discussion ranging from sales and business materials, dealing with clients, ordering sessions, products, packages, branding and marketing, social media, commercial sales, and anything else you can think of! No subject is off limits. Because this is your session, it is focused solely on your needs as a photographer, where your business is at, where your shooting level is at, and what your goals are.”
I personally know that Illona pours her heart and soul into her mentees. If you want an intimate hands-on experience getting knowledge from one the best in the biz who has been prolifically photographing pets for many years, give Illona a shout and get signed up with one of her mentoring sessions.
4. Charlotte Reeves mentoring sessions in the U.S.
Charlotte Reeves is widely known as one of the best pet photographers in Australia. Charlotte is known for her colorful images that swim in gorgeous natural light and vivid colors, capturing dogs and cats having fun both solo and with their owners. Along with being a highly talented photographer and successful business owner for over five years, Charlotte is also a web designer and techy maven, and knows a thing or two about developing a brand and standing out.
Charlotte is offering extremely limited 1-on-1 mentoring sessions during her trip to the U.S. in June of this year. Sessions are just $150 for one hour or $250 for two hours. She has limited spaces available in the following cities on the following dates:
Topics mentees can choose from include:
- Defining your target client and marketing (including social media marketing)
- Website design and search engine optimisation and promotion (did I mention I’m a website designer too?)
- Session procedure and shooting technical advice, including shooting on manual and shooting with backlight (theory only, no time for practice unfortunately!)
- Camera and lens selection
- Finding and choosing locations – what to look for and how to use the available features of the location
- Working with various types of pets – techniques that I use to get the shot
- Dealing with clients and best business practices including customer care and relations
- Editing and presenting your images at their best (bring your laptop along and I can demonstrate)
- Pricing for profit including what products to offer
- Quoting and securing commercial pet photography jobs
- Referral systems, how to set them up and make them work for you
Drop Charlotte a line ASAP if you are interested in learning from her, or click on the link to her blog to read more about her mentoring!
5. Gary Parker Swamp Dog Photography Workshops
If you don’t already know about Gary Parker’s work, you need to. It’s some of the best dog and cat photography I have ever seen.
Gary Parker is a highly successful multi-award-winning commercial dog and cat photographer, with a career spanning 30 years, whose client list includes such greats as Purina, Heinz, Pfizer, Pedigree, Nabisco, and Iams.
Gary recently announced plans to teach a dog photography workshop, through his website Swamp Dog Photography Workshops. The plans are so new that details of dates and cost haven’t been released yet, but Gary is accepting emails from interested pet photographers and will announce details soon. Send him an email through this blog post, and get on board with this workshop. This is one you don’t want to miss!
Additional pet photography business resources:
For those who are primarily needing help with the business side of their pet photography businesses, such as with marketing, pricing, sales and working with clients, I have several educational resources available that will help with the business side of things.
First, take a look at the PDF resources I have available: The Pet Photography Marketing Guide (117 pages), and the Pet Photography Pricing & Sales Strategies Guide (55 pages).
The Pet Photography Marketing Guide contains, among other things: information on thinking like a consumer, how to cultivate fans and brand ambassadors, how to create networking connections and complementary marketing partnerships, how to develop a unique selling proposition, using mobile and social media to your advantage, 20 specific marketing strategies, including word-of-mouth, promotional products, press, and others, the difference between direct revenue and visibility results, gifting clients, the relationship between branding, marketing and pricing, and Cowbelly’s most successful marketing strategies. The guide also contains an annual marketing plan broken down by quarter, a sample marketing plan, and mini-guides for donations, displays, referral rewards programs, marketing for established portrait photographers, and more.
The Pet Photography Pricing and Sales Strategies Guide contains: how to determine expenses and revenue, a suggested price list for pet photography, photo shoot tiers and pricing, different types of shoots, pricing for a variety of different products, collection pricing and options, client buying trends and more. The sales strategies part of the guide contains information on how you affect your sales, how you can shoot to sell, consumer psychology when it comes to spending money, value vs income, different sales strategies (i.e. how to sell), add-ons to sales, 5 no-nos to pricing, a sales Q & A and more.
For those who are starting up pet photography businesses, and don’t know where to start, take a look at the book I wrote, Beautiful Beasties: A Creative Guide to Modern Pet Photography. The book has several chapters you may find helpful: ‘Post-production’, ‘Going Pro’, and ‘Business Essentials’.
The ‘Post-Production’ chapter covers:
Establishing a digital workflow, and quickly and efficiently culling and editing in Lightroom.
Tips on how and when to use Photoshop to your best advantage and what it can do that Lightroom can’t.
Common editing errors newbie pet photographers make.
The ‘Going Pro’ chapter covers:
The start-up process from A-Z- every step you need to do to get your pet photography business up and running.
A foolproof 10-step portfolio building process: how to do it and for how long, what to emphasize, important steps to take along the process, what to charge, when and how to change prices, the best recipe for future success, and how to start a pet photography business the right way.
Start-up and ongoing expenses, and how to keep your costs low.
Pre-shoot and post-shoot client process. Every step is outlined, from their initial phone call or email, to when they receive their products in the mail, both on the client-side and in-house.
The ‘Business Essentials’ chapter covers:
Pricing products for profit, which is what separates your business from a hobby. What not to charge, and how to create pricing for various products.
Different products to offer that your clients will love, you can proudly stand behind, and won’t leave you confused or overwhelmed by all the different photo product options out there.
Branding: how to set your business apart from the competition, and create both a look and a name for yourself that expresses who you are.
Marketing: a variety of different successful marketing strategies, including grass-roots, low or no cost marketing. A list of businesses to network with and create complementary marketing partnerships with, and how to quickly and effectively grow word of mouth.
Some other fun parts of the book are: working with ‘Stage-mom’ owners (i.e. difficult clients), pet photography don’ts that will give away your lack of experience, challenges galore in pet photography, ten ideas for getting variety in every session, and creating and finding your own unique artistic voice. There are also exercises at the end of every chapter to help you practice what you learn in the book.
For less than $20 you can have a wealth of information in this book that will get you started on the right path in your career.
Go check out the workshops and mentoring I listed above, and my PDFs and book, and please share this post with all of your pet photography colleagues on the forums, Facebook walls and blogs you frequent so they can have the benefit of learning about great educational programs too. Thank you so much and best wishes on your career!
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