HOW To SELECT A DOG PHOTOGRAPHER THAT UNDERSTANDS youR Needs and DELIVERs QUALITY IMAGES ensuring thAt YOU Receive SIGNIFICANT VALUE?
I have broken down specific questions along the key dimensions (Product & Services, Photo Session, Photographer, Post Processing & Image Delivery) that you can ask any dog photographer being considered for your pet’s photography session. You can use these questions as a check list to learn and decide if the photographer is the right match for you and your pet.
Understand the Products & Services Offered By The PHotographer
1. What types of dog photography do you offer?
Dog and pet photography styles vary from still portrait photography to action shots featuring movement. Either photography styles may be taken outdoors or in indoor settings (studio or interior locations), or the photographer may offer a variety of options. These photography styles each produce a unique look, and one style might appeal to you most as they best capture your dog’s specific characteristics and personality.
If you are interested in an outdoor setting for your dog's photo shoot, it is a good idea to ask the photographer what options are available for location shoots. Natural environments can provide stunning backdrops for portrait shoots making use of urban or rural location features. Outdoor locations are also a great way capture an active dog’s personality by capturing running and jumping activities.
Reviewing the photographer’s online portfolio should give you a good indication of the signature types of photography offered and their aptitude for composition and styling.
2. What final photography products do you offer?
It is great to start the process of hiring a photographer by envisioning how you plan to use the photography. Will you display the photography in a table top frame, a photo book, or as framed wall art? This is an important consideration to ensure that the photographer offers the final photography products and the quality that you want.
3. How and where are the images printed and can I print the images myself?
With printing services widely available, there are varying levels of quality. If you are investing in fine art photography, you want to make sure the best quality printer and framer is being used. Understanding how the photographer prints their work is important to understanding if you will be receiving a pre-selected standardized product or bespoke custom artwork.
As a rule of thumb: Anyone can print a photograph, but small details and experience are required to produce a custom piece of Fine Art. Professional photographers take great pride in their final artwork and will tirelessly work with the printer on details, such as paper quality, color and framing materials to ensure that they are offering the highest quality artwork to you. And believe me you will see and appreciate the difference!
Learn How the Pet Photography Session Works
4. What does the dog photography session include?
Professional photography sessions specifically relate to the appointment time of the photo shoot plus basic post production of the images. Professional photographers generally provide digital images and or final photography products, such as printed and framed photography as a separate purchase. Make sure to clarify what is included in the initial inquiry and have this stated in the written agreement with the photographer.
5. Why do multiple dogs or people in the photograph cost more?
Simply, more subjects, animal or human, is a more complex photography session and will require more time during the shoot to get the shot as well as additional time for post-production.
6. Will I need to sign an agreement or contract?
Professional photographers will ask you to sign some type of agreement whether they call it an agreement, contract, or terms and conditions. This document should state the logistical arrangements, contingency plan for bad weather (if applicable) or cancellation, payment method, photo delivery, image rights and usage, image storage by the photographer, and how any liabilities will be handled. This document is typically signed at the time of the initial session fee payment to ensure that both the client and photographer are in agreement and committed to the arrangements discussed.
7. What can I expect to pay in total?
Once you have decided what final products you want from the photo shoot, the photographer can give you a breakdown of their final product pricing. Typically, for pet photography, your goal is to have one final photograph or a small collection of photographs. You can expect to pay the photographers session fee plus the cost of processing your final products.
LEARN ABOUT POST PROCESSING AND IMAGE DELIVERY
8. What is included in post production?
Post production of images is a significant part of the photographer’s process in creating their final artwork. This process includes reviewing the photographs taken during the photo shoot to select the best images, which may involve reviewing thousands of photos. After this initial selection process, the photographer will apply initial editing to the selected images. Some editing techniques during the post production process might include adjusting the color, brightness, sharpness or applying a color filter to the images. This editing process further defines the quality and signature style of the photographer’s work. The professional photographer you are considering should deliver your images for pre-selection in a post-processed format.
Since post production editing will determine the quality and look of the images you receive, it is good to understand their process and review their portfolio to confirm if you like their editing style.
9. When can I expect the images after the shoot?
A professional photographer should be able to give you an estimated turnaround time once the session date is booked. Times will vary depending on their ongoing work obligations. This time period is generally two weeks to two months.
If you have a deadline in mind, this is something to discuss during the initial consultation, so the photographer can confirm what is possible.
10. How many images can I expect from the shoot?
Most importantly, the photographer should be focused on quality over quantity and only present their best work. This could translate as one to five images for a portrait shoot and a larger number if there is a story telling aspect to the shoot. Unlike wedding photography, the goal of most dog and pet photography for personal use is a single image or a small series of images.
11. How will I receive the images?
Before your final selection of images, the photographer will offer a pre-selection of post produced images from which you can make your final selections. This photography offering may be in the form of an online gallery and or an in person meeting to review the images with the photographer, so they can consult you on how to select the best images, suggest grouped images for a series, or discuss additional edits.
After this meeting, the photographer will offer the final selection of images in the agreed and purchased format, such as digital images, printed images or framed fine art. Because photographers work with the fine details of photography, an in person consultation with the photographer is ideal to selecting the best work for you.
12. What format will the digital images be delivered?
Final image delivery should be outlined in the photographer’s booking contract. Images are initially shot in a raw format giving the photographer the greatest range for adjustments to create their signature artwork in post-production.
After post production, some photographers may offer the client images in a digital jpeg format. A low resolution jpeg is ideal for social sharing, but not for printing. High resolution digital jpeg files are used for printing. If digital images are available for purchase, the photographer will email them as a file attachment or a password protected downloadable file.
Many professional photographers only offer their work in print format. Why is this? A professional photographer builds their reputation on their specific artwork, which includes the quality of their editing and printing process. To ensure that the final photography product represents their work, professional photographers typically want to manage this process.
Knowing how you plan to personally use the images will be helpful to determine if the photographer’s final product offering is right for you.
UNDERSTAND WHO YOU ARE HIRING AS A PHOTOGRAPHER
13. How did you get interested in dog photography?
This is a great question as it will naturally lead to the photographer discussing their passion. While it might be assumed that a dog photographer loves dogs, it’s the why that will help you understand how they came to do this on a professional level. Maybe, they have had pets all their lives and understand how an image can hold a pet's memory forever. Maybe, they are fascinated about the relationship between pets and humans and have a unique ability to capture this emotion in an image. Maybe as photographer, they can use their technical skills to capture the subject of a dog in a uniquely beautiful way. Whatever their reason, listen to their why to understand their motivation, how they approach photography and where their focus will be when working with you and your pet.
14. Is dog photography your main focus?
A quick peak on the photographer’s website will give you a good indication if they focus on dogs, pets or other subjects. There is no right or wrong approach, but if they focus on a single subject, their eye for detail and skillset may be more defined in this area. Additionally, ask about any creative projects that they may be working on which may or may not be listed on their website. This might be a book on a subject related to dogs or pets, commercial collaborations or a series of work for an art exhibit. These special projects might offer a unique way to work with the photographer and offer you fresh ideas of how to capture your dog’s personality.
15. What makes good dog photography in your opinion?
Good photographers use a variety of hard and soft skills to create great work and pleasant working client relationships. Hard skills can be defined as technical skills, such as the use of light, natural or artificial, the ability to capture or freeze motion, composition and styling. Another very important technical skill is being an excellent observer, so they can visualize the frame and pick up on cues of their subject to direct the shoot.
Soft skills are the photographer’s ability to create a nice environment for you and your pet to work within; including, professionalism, timeliness in response, and a kind nature.
There is a sweet spot between technical and soft skills that will create a great experience for you and your dog resulting in great dog photography. The photographer you hire should give you a good sense that they are skilled in both areas.
Hope these questions will help you to secure a great photographer for your upcoming dog photography session.
Do you have other questions that you have found helpful when sourcing a dog photographer? Please let us know in the comments section or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.