By Raj Mehta
“Each of us has been designed for one of two immortal functions, as either a storyteller or as a cross-legged listener to tails of wonder, love, and daring. When we cease to tell or listen, then we no longer exist as people” ― Bryce Courtenay
Do you like pets? Do you own a pet?
In last few years, pet industry has started hitting the roofs like never before. Each individual is looking for owning a pet. But the question is what are we really looking for in our pets? Is it ownership, is it belongingness, or is it their unconditional love?
First, let’s break the ice with the fact that pets are not just dogs or cats; the term is not limited to the idea of four paws, furry body, wet kisses, and fanning tails.
In recent few years, pets have become an integral part of our family. Humans have become more accepting towards the idea of having pets. Naturally, it calls for showing their fellow humans that their pets are an important part of their life by posting pictures, snaps, and stories on social media or be it by making an Instagram page for their pets and posting their life events. Their innocent, cute, and loving face is just so adorable! The importance of capturing the best moments spent with your pets made a way through for Pet Photography.
So how and why did I land to this pallet of photography…?
My Journey into the Realm of Pet Photography
My love for pets started during initial stages of my life; just like any other child, apart from playing on street, what excited me more was to play with Indies. I used to try to convince my parents for having a pet and they used to tell me only one thing, “We have done our job with you guys, now we can’t grow another child,” and they used to explain, “It’s not easy to have a pet in the house, you need to take care of all its needs.” Days and years kept passing and after some introspection regarding self in my Psychology Masters program, I realized to take a shift to pursue Photography as my career. Though Pet Photography was never a part of my master plan, but we all improvise, right? So did I!
Then began my journey into the realm of pet photography in the year 2019! That childhood dream of owning a pet never came true but I get to play with them just like my old golden days.
Since then, everyday has been different for me; just like a new page in a novel, it kept unfolding with some pets with bag full of energy and some like “please stay away from me”. I started enjoying every moment with pets I shot with; well I guess… the love for pets helped me a lot to get comfortable.
But my quest was never drenched; I was driven with the idea to find pets with different personality, hence came up with bonding sessions. So, as important it is for all of us to get acquainted with people with whom we are going to work or shoot, as is with pets. There it was the “aha!” moment. Who takes a picture of just an acquaintance! People become friends or known entities and then they tag each other for a picture. Similarly, keeping a bonding session a day prior to shoot turns out to make the transition from acquaintance to friends, you get to know. Pet parents won’t reveal the secrets of their children, which you get to know only on your first meeting with them; keeping them in front of the lens, they portray a plethora of traits. Basically, this bonding time helps in photography so that the pet doesn’t find himself an alien to a lens and run away. These traits are reflected in the clicks if the bond is right.
The Processes: Lights, Camera andddd Action!
So the one thing that I learnt during my shoots with pets was that it doesn’t always go how you plan, sometimes you need to improvise with the situation. When you are on the shoot day you can’t just jump on to the “ready, set, and action” part, you have to give time to a pet to get along with the environment and be at ease; if location is new, let him explore to start with and resume once you find the pet jellying around well with the place. Keeping some treats with you to act as reinforcement or something that can attract them is an add-on to catch their attention. The shoot with a pet could be done in two ways – either totally planned, where you try different poses and let pet also enjoy the session, or just go with the flow. Even if that doesn’t happen, let it go and improvise with what you get naturally; more poking and demanding of poses might lead to losing of patience. Adding on to different compositions while shooting will enhance the depth of the shoot rather than getting stuck with one angle.
You don’t have to be an expert in editing but the basic skills pay you off well (not monetary) like leash removing, background changing, removing distraction from photos will work. Remember one thing – don’t manipulate photo to the extent where pet parents feel that it is too much fake; strive to maintain the essence and moment of the picture. Take your time to deliver photos to the family because they say good things take time.
Always remember that you are making something special out of the beautiful captured moments of the pets with their pet parents and who doesn’t love surprises?
For the final touch, try to make it special for them by sending them with an add-on like frame of the photograph, small prints, or with a pet toy because it’s a moment to be cherished forever!
*Author is the owner and photographer at Therapawtic Photography. He has done Masters in Psychology and a Diploma in Photography. He has worked in various fields like fashion, product, and wedding photography and is now focusing on pet photography with a specialized brand for it. You can check his work out on Instagram at @therapawticphotography.