Pets are part of the family. The same way that you might want baby pictures around the house, more people are opting to have professional photographs of their animal companions decorating their walls. It doesn’t matter if they’re dogs, cats, guinea pigs or tortoises, capturing that perfect image which reflects our love for our four-legged friends has become big business.

To ensure that only the best shots are taken, owners turn to a pet photographer. As the name suggests, a pet photographer is a trained professional that exclusively takes pictures of animals. The majority of the time this is for private clients who want the best pooch pictures they can get, but a pet photographer’s skills can also extend to corporate clients when necessary. If you have a passion for photography as well as a passion for animals, pet photography could be your calling.

What sort of salary can I expect as a pet photographer?

The annual salary of a pet photographer is dependent on a number of factors. Primarily, it depends on the type of work you’re doing; freelance photographers will charge by the hour compared to the fixed salary of more traditional employment. Secondly, it depends on your client base, which can differ significantly depending on location, season and even online presence. Finally, the salary you can expect – and this is truer of freelancers and self-employed photographers – can be directly linked to your skill. The better your work is, the likely you are to be recommended and get more work.

How do I become a pet photographer?

As with many creative professions, there isn’t always a clear path to success, especially in the early stages of the career. While there is no sure-fire way of becoming a pet photographer, you can take several steps to improve your odds:

  • It’s not essential to have a formal qualification in order to advance in pet photography, but it can certainly help. Gaining an understanding of the fundamentals of photography and editing are priceless skills that will improve your chances of becoming a successful pet photographer.
  • Understand how to handle a variety of different animals. Unlike human beings, pets won’t always do as they’re told, so it’s important that you learn to be patient when working with them. Additionally, learning how to motivate an animal in order to get the perfect shot is a fundamental part of the job.
  • Building a physical and online portfolio is a great way of getting your work out there and gaining traction. Whether it’s paid work or shots you’ve taken in your spare time, it’s important to make it visible to prospective clients and employers. A great way to get free time with different animals is to volunteer at your local rescue centre.
  • Building a client base is the lifeblood of any self-employed pet photographer. The easiest way to get known is to increase your online presence. The soon you get your work out there, the sooner the phone will start ringing. Having a website can also be a big bonus.

What qualifications do I need?

You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a pet photographer. As long as you have camera skills and the knowledge of editing software, you’ll be able to do the job. However, if you’re looking for employment in a pet photography company, you’ll more than likely be required to have at least a degree in photography. By attending a university or college course on the subject, you’ll be exposed to the different elements of the art of photography, as well as the nuances of digital editing, which will help you in your future career.

Who are the best-known pet photographers?

Before you start your career in pet photography, there’s plenty you can learn from these masters of the craft – if you haven’t done so already:

  • Diana Lundin
  • Charlotte Reeves
  • Grace Chon
  • Illona Haus
  • Carli Davidson

Can’t quite get enough of cats and dogs? Pet photography might be the path for you! While practising photography, some of your pet photos could end up as a personalised phone case for your iPhone or Samsung.