Pet Portrait Tips & Tricks with Shelley Franklin

January 28, 2022 Artist Spotlight

Clubhouse Conversation: Shelley Franklin

Pet pampering is a multi-billion dollar industry. Have you ever considered becoming a service provider in it with your photography?

In the latest episode of the Portrait System Podcast: Clubhouse Edition, Kevin Conde and Ashleigh Taylor chat with Shelley Franklin. Shelley is Portrait Masters accredited Fellow photographer based in Phoenix, AZ, who has won multiple awards for her pet portraits.

When Shelley was a child, she used to take pictures of her family pets in human clothes just for fun, but when she began to get serious about photography later in life, she initially didn’t consider specializing in pets. In fact, her award-winning image of her Doberman Blue was taken as a lighting test, and she only entered it into the Portrait Masters competition as a fluke. When it won Silver and did better than her other entered images, Shelley decided that in the next round, she would enter even more pet portraits. Again, they were her best-performing images. That’s when she decided she was really onto something.

Be sure to listen to the whole podcast to hear tons of amazing advice from Shelley about how to be successful in pet photography. She shares tips and tricks on topics like:

  • what gear you should have
  • what lighting set ups work great
  • which props and sets work best
  • what tools can help you achieve your shots
  • how to work with different types of animals
  • how to get your focus right on creatures with long noses
  • what can save your shot in editing
  • how to make sure the environment is safe and positive for the animal
  • how to price fairly
  • and more!

As always, Ashleigh and Kevin bring great perspective. This time, Kevin and Ashleigh both talk about how emotional pet photography can be. As pet owners, they understand how limited our time with our pets is, and they emphasize how precious it can be to have these keepsakes of these very beloved beings.

In this blog, you’ll find some of Shelley’s wonderful portraits, links to her web presence, and answers to some bonus questions.

To hear more from Shelley, check out Manifesting Success with Shelley Franklin.

Here are links to some things mentioned in this conversation: The Portrait Masters Awards & Accreditation, Richard Wood’s Painterly Portraits Course, and Richard Wood’s Creative Portrait Series.

Join us live every Friday for Clubhouse conversations and get answers to your questions! Just search “The Portrait System” in the Clubhouse App and follow us there.

Get to Know Shelley Franklin

Q: When did you first come across Sue Bryce Education and how has it affected your career?

A: I found Sue from a Facebook Ad back in January of 2017. The ad was for her first 12-week class, and I had been watching a lot of online tutorials to try to get better at taking photos. The idea of taking a real “class” to give me some direction sounded perfect for me. I was blown away with her images and couldn’t wait to start the class. I had no idea it would help me in so many other areas of my life. My confidence and self-value have changed immeasurably because of what I have learned. As a matter of fact, I would go so far as to say it has changed me from an introvert to someone quite social.  

Q: When first starting out, many photographers hit roadblocks on their journey to starting their business – whether feeling their equipment isn’t good enough or feeling they need a studio to start a business. What roadblocks did you encounter and how did you get over them?

A: The biggest roadblock I encountered was my fear of talking to people. I had a hard time even having one-on-one conversations and looking someone in the eye. It’s very hard to sell your skills as a photographer if you don’t talk to people. I’ve done a lot of work to elevate my photography skills the last 5 years, but at the same time, all of the steps SBE teaches put me on a path that allowed me to gain confidence as I went, and it has been a game changer for me.

Q: How do you feel about your current work/life balance?

A: Most of the time I feel like it is completely fine because work rarely feels like work to me. However, I do know that last year, I was overly focused on business goals, and this year, I would like to make sure I have equal parts work and family life.

Q: What (beyond money) has owning a business given you?

A: A sense of pride and confidence like I have never felt in my life. It’s something that is MINE alone that no one else can take credit for doing for me. It has given me the opportunity to show my kids that dreams can really come true.

Q: What is your favorite advice that you’ve been given along your journey that has helped you the most? 

A: Don’t be afraid to do the next thing you need to do to move forward. Don’t look too far down the road at all of the other things that you will need to do that scare you. Just work on the next thing and the next after that. You will build confidence along the way and be ready for each new thing when you get to them!

Subscribe to The Podcast

ART19SpotifyStitcherTuneInRadioPublicApple Podcast





Follow Shelley Franklin:

Website – Facebook

Instagram-1 Instagram-2



Click Here to Read the Podcast Transcript

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Please note this transcript was generated by AI and may contain errors. 

This is the Portrait System podcast, a show that helps portrait photographers and people hoping to become one, navigate the world of photography, business, money and so much more. We totally keep it real. We share stories about the incredible ups and the very difficult downs when running a photography business. I’m your host, Nikki Closser. And the point of this podcast is for you to learn actionable steps that you can take to grow your own business and also to feel inspired and empowered by the stories you hear. Hey, everyone. On today’s clubhouse

00:00:26:20 – 00:00:32:22

Hey, everyone! Today’s Clubhouse episode with your hosts Ashleigh and Kevin is with guest Shelley Franklin.

00:00:32:24 – 00:00:55:19

If you’ll remember, she was episode number 81, where Shelley talked all about her 50 over 50 campaign. Well, this time, if you didn’t know this about Shelley, she is an amazing pet photographer, so she talks all about her pet portraits, how she runs her business, how she added to that genre into her business, and just all about pet photography. It’s a great episode you don’t want to miss. So here is Kevin, Ashleigh and Shelley.

00:00:56:12 – 00:01:27:03

Welcome everyone to the Portrait System Podcast Clubhouse Edition. My name is Kevin Conde and I’m here with my co-host Ashleigh Taylor. If you are not familiar with the Portrait System where a portrait photography podcast that is powered by Sue Bryce Education, Nikki Closser hosts our Monday episodes, and Ashleigh and I co-host our Clubhouse Edition, which is live here on the Clubhouse app every Friday at Noon Pacific. Episodes are released on Thursdays. You can tune in on your favorite podcast app by searching for The Portrait System.

00:01:27:26 – 00:01:28:29

Ashleigh, how are you doing today?

00:01:29:13 – 00:01:40:01

I’m doing great, Kevin, and I’m so excited to welcome Shelley Wolf Franklin from Phoenix, Arizona to the podcast today.

00:01:40:13 – 00:01:42:01

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

00:01:42:16 – 00:02:19:02

I cannot tell you how ridiculously excited Ashleigh and I are actually to talk to you about pets. I’m a pet parent before everything else. I am , too. And we’re both constantly messaging each other. We have pictures of them, you know, sleeping and all that good stuff. And with the pet industry being a multibillion dollar industry, we figured who better to talk to you about pet photography than to talk to one of our own portrait masters accredited fellows, who has won numerous awards for her beautiful work in the particular genre.

00:02:20:20 – 00:02:31:01

So we want to talk to you about your process of you working with animals, but before we do, can you tell us a little bit a little bit about the animals in your life? Do you have any of your own pets?

00:02:31:15 – 00:03:08:15

Oh my gosh, yes. I’ve always had pets right now. Currently, I have a seven year old standard poodle. Oh, and about a six month old Yorkie puppy and a Bengal cat named Odin. And I don’t know why I told you his name, not the other. And my favorite is now right? I’m just a cat person. But. And then we just recently lost our doberman who I saw you use had I took a photo of him, which is one of the ones they used on the Portrait Masters ad thing today about this podcast.

00:03:08:17 – 00:03:13:19

And I was like, Oh, it’s Blue.. But his name was Blue. So, yeah, we just recently lost him.

00:03:14:18 – 00:03:15:18

I’m sorry to hear about.

00:03:15:20 – 00:03:16:19

I’m sorry to

00:03:16:27 – 00:03:35:27

hear that is actually one of my favorite pet portraits that you released and I’ve seen it before, and I remember when you first posted it and I like, what a beautiful animal. I love that image, and that’s always stayed in the back of my mind like, Oh my god, Shelley’s a fantastic pet photographer. I love her work and I continue to follow you.

00:03:36:12 – 00:03:39:08

Oh, thank you. Thank you so much.

00:03:40:04 – 00:04:01:26

Can you tell us a little bit about how you started with pet photography? Is this an instance where you started taking pictures of your own pets? Like, you know what? I really like this. Maybe I should look into doing this? Or did you pick up a camera and think this is it? I have a camera. I know for a fact that pet photography is the direction I want to go in, so that’s what I’m going to learn about.

00:04:02:18 – 00:04:36:27

Strangely, it was a little bit of both. Only that when I was about nine years old. I loved taking photos and my mom used to get pretty annoyed because she’d go to get film developed. And when she picked up the photos, it would be all these pictures of my cat or my dog dressed in clothing and stuff, too. She’s like, When did you do this? But so I used to take pictures of my own pets as a little kid and try to get them to do funny things wearing people clothing, which is interesting as it circles around because initially I wasn’t interested in pet photography.

00:04:37:06 – 00:05:08:12

I was working very hard to build a portfolio of people and doing stylized shoots and trying super hard to make amazing images. And the photo of the Doberman, I call it blue on blue. That was actually just a light test before a shoot because I didn’t have anybody there to help me in that. So I could make sure the light was the way I wanted it. And I brought him in and sat him there and took his photo and then just coincidentally submitted it to one of the rounds of Portrait Masters.

00:05:08:14 – 00:05:19:21

I think the second round kind of was a joke because I was working so hard on all these other things, and I knew that picture was a great picture. So I tossed it in there and then I was completely shocked when it got a silver award.

00:05:20:09 – 00:05:35:22

Oh wow, that’s such an amazing story. And like such a reminder that you just never know what’s going to be the thing that resonates with people like it could just be something that, like you said, you’re not quite thinking is going to be the one that gets you the silver.

00:05:36:06 – 00:06:10:24

Right, right. And honestly, I was kind of annoyed when that happened because I had been working so hard on the other photos and most of my other stuff didn’t even reach professional standard back at that point. So it was kind of an awakening to me that, well, OK, if I can get a silver on this picture of my dog, I’m going to go start taking pictures of my other pets and let’s see how those do. So that led me to taking pictures of my daughter’s hamster in a tutu and just having a lot of friends bringing their pets over and building a pet portfolio.

00:06:10:26 – 00:06:28:08

And then then the next round, the portrait masters, when it’s almost like all of these pet photos I submitted did extremely well and much, much stronger seem to be much stronger images. And the images that I was doing of people at the time. That’s when I decided maybe the universe is trying to tell me something.

00:06:29:12 – 00:07:00:01

I love that. It’s fantastic that you were able to get that shot. And you know, unfortunately, you know, Blue has passed. But I have some similar situation of myself where, you know, I was testing lights out for self portrait session that I was doing during the COVID. And I was like, You know what? I’ll pop a few images of my own pets, and I have one where we actually was a pet parent of five, and I grabbed one of them. He’s easy going, Oh, you sit in the ottoman.

00:07:00:23 – 00:07:28:03

You like shots. Before I jump in myself and I have he passed. His name is Douglas, and he passed July 5th of last year. And as I’m thinking about it, like God, do I have any pictures of him? And you know, I started looking through everything I’ve done. I’m like, Oh my God, I have these sections of pet images that I take before I photograph myself. And fortunately, I was able to find that image of him and then blow it up.

00:07:28:05 – 00:07:48:24

And oh, that’s awesome. I love that we actually have Blue as a huge canvas in my husband’s office, and I have one at the studio also. So it’s just always a great reminder of him. And that’s the first thing we do when we lose a pet is we start looking through the images that we have taken of them over the years, and it’s just really important to have a really nice one.

00:07:49:17 – 00:08:20:11

Yeah, that’s why I think pet photography is so like emotional. And as a pet parent myself, I can totally see the value like to me. I’ve always thought if I had the patience because I don’t, I love animals, but I don’t really have the patience to photograph them. But I always thought if I did, it would just be such a killer business to me because I so value that. And I so understand that like the time we have with our pets is very limited.

00:08:20:19 – 00:09:02:17

I think we think about that maybe more with pets than we do with people because you really like people have such a wide life span and you don’t really know how long someone’s going to be in your life. So you’re not kind of constantly thinking about it, but like not to be morbid. I like always like very aware that like I have a limited time on earth with like this person, I call my pets people, this person who is like the love of my life, you know what I mean? So to me, it just seems like, you know, the value statement is so there when it comes to talking to a potential client about, like, why would you value this? It’s like, why wouldn’t you value a giant portrait of your pet?

00:09:03:05 – 00:09:04:12

Right? Absolutely.

00:09:05:16 – 00:09:33:02

So Shelley with the work that you’ve done with animals, I know you’ve done more domesticated pets, dogs, cats, hamsters, I believe you said, Yeah. What about other less, you know, inside of your home type of animals? Do you have training for any of this? Do you require it, and or for someone? Do you believe as long as they have a a good understanding of the animal, that would be good enough?

00:09:33:27 – 00:10:05:26

Well, that is something that I talk to everybody who’s bringing an animal into the studio about because I have worked with, I wouldn’t say, necessarily exotic animals, but unusual animals a lot because I do have a there’s an animal rescue very near my studio, and the owner of the animal rescue is actually a teenage boy. Oh, wow. Yeah, he’s he’s really amazing. He’s started many different businesses himself, and he was Time Magazine’s Kid of the Year well he was up for that, like last year.

00:10:06:02 – 00:10:40:25

He was one of the runner ups. And so he has this animal rescue where he rescues animals and takes care of them to the point that he has two wallabies that he was bottle feeding like around the clock, like infants. Oh my God. And a porcupine that was, I guess, some people actually have porcupines for pets, which I would not advise. But these people thought they had two girl porcupines, and it turns out one was a boy. And then suddenly they woke up and there was a baby porcupine and they so they didn’t know.

00:10:40:27 – 00:11:15:11

So in that instance, he rescued the baby porcupine, and he bottle fed it around the clock for many, many months. And it’s just really amazing his passion for the animals, and he has a ton of different ones at different times, and they’re all very unusual. So he has hired me to do headshots for him on many occasions. And whenever he comes in, we talk about what animals he currently has. And so I have been able to use a lot of the animals from his rescue to help him bring attention to his rescue on his website with the photos, and then also to help me with my pet portfolio.

00:11:16:18 – 00:11:23:29

That’s a really cool story. Are there any other like partnerships that you’ve made, like maybe like an equestrian, like an equestrian center or

00:11:25:14 – 00:11:29:17

like a pet groomer or anything like that?

00:11:30:20 – 00:12:05:13

I do. I have partnered with there’s actually a grooming salon in my strip mall that I’m located in. So I worked with that groomer and she is amazing with animals and actually will sometimes be my assistant at photoshoots if I do them on the weekends. So that’s a good part to have. And then I have done a lot of well back when we used to do a lot of events, I used to do events with several different charities dog charities in the Valley. So I did partner and sponsor some of their events and that sort of thing.

00:12:06:02 – 00:12:21:09

Oh, that’s really cool. That’s great advice for people who are like trying to get into pet photography and like what types of businesses or charities like you said that people could target because I would also think like a veterinarian potentially as well.

00:12:21:16 – 00:12:51:17

Yes, actually, there is a veterinarian in town that has their office decorated with canvases of my work. Oh, cool. Yeah. And then in addition to that, there’s the dog shows, which is something that I’ve done a little bit of because we have Westworld near us, which is a big event center and they sometimes have different or not. They have the Arabian horse show that comes up in February. So that would be a great place.

00:12:51:27 – 00:13:00:11

I have not yet tapped into that, but that’s a huge, great event and they have a lot of horse and equestrian type events there as well that are on my list.

00:13:01:27 – 00:13:12:08

It’s nice now when you you said you have the the groomer in your strip mall near you. Now did you choose that location because of that, like I can partner with them? Or is that just a happy accident?

00:13:13:00 – 00:13:33:00

It’s a happy accident. Actually, the location she’s in was the space I was looking at when I was looking to open my portrait studio. It’s a little bit smaller and I was thinking it was the right size for me. And then just coincidentally, she ended up signing her lease right as I started to get serious about looking into taking the space.

00:13:33:21 – 00:13:34:17

Oh, funny.

00:13:34:19 – 00:13:52:11

We kind of ended up moving in at the same time and I got to know her, and she had brought her cats over for a photo shoot. And I’ve also photographed her dog, and then because of her clientele, I photographed a few other families and their pets that go to her grooming studio.

00:13:53:13 – 00:14:10:27

Now, you said she sometimes assists you, which I think is like a great opening into talking about like how you photograph pets, do you think an assistant is required? Like what are some best practices around, you know, wrangling the pets because this is the hardest part of the whole thing.

00:14:11:19 – 00:14:43:18

It can be very difficult. I do. She definitely is a big help to me when she’s here because she’s used to working with animals and getting them to do the things that she needs them to do to hold still, to cut their hair, that sort of thing. So she’s awesome to have on hand. She’s kind of varies. No, no, no. I say she’s very serious about her job, and she does a great job of getting it done quickly where some assistants are like, Oh, you know, playing with the dog and depending on the assistant, they can actually make things a little worse.

00:14:43:28 – 00:15:23:12

Oh, I’ve had people help me where, you know, they’re trying to hold a treat to get the dog to look, but they just keep putting their hand right in front of the animal’s face when you’re taking photos. So then as I’m going through culling the images, it’s like, Well, these would have been great, except she kept sticking that treat down like right over the dog’s face. So it can be it can be hard. A lot of times what I do when someone hires me to photograph there is I talk to them about just the the animal’s behavior and how well they’re trained and how they think they’re going to do, which really isn’t that great of an indication because sometimes the best trained pets just get in the studio and they don’t.

00:15:23:19 – 00:15:55:01

They’re not into it. And it can be the opposite where somebody tells you their pet is crazy. This is going to be so hard, and then they’re completely perfect. So you really never know what you’re going to get, but it’s important to find out how they interact with their pet because a lot of times I just use the pet owner kind of as my assistant and then to let them know, probably I’m going to put you to work. You might. And I had two standard poodles here last month where the the pet dad ended up doing so much work.

00:15:55:03 – 00:15:57:09

I think he was completely exhausted by the end.

00:15:59:00 – 00:16:07:06

So, yeah, he was literally walking around with these 50 pound dogs, you know, carrying them and plopping them basically because they wouldn’t hold still.

00:16:08:10 – 00:16:14:10

Oh, that’s funny. Image in my head up. Oh, sorry, Kevin, you go.

00:16:15:11 – 00:16:41:02

You had said that the groomer signed the lease for the smaller space. One of the things that I noticed while looking at your images, I’m like, there’s different tables, chairs, ottomons, suitcases, a full leather sofa, and a whole bunch of other items. Where are you keeping all this stuff? Is this are you renting stuff? Is it all live in your studio or what’s going on with just the amount of awesome pieces that you?

00:16:42:06 – 00:17:12:25

Thank you. Actually, there are a lot of chairs and several couches usually in my studio at one time, and they revolve after I photographed one a certain number of times. Then I’ll usually end up picking up something else and kind of trading it out, selling stuff that I used before. Some of them are just my go to like I have. It looks like a leather vintage couch. That’s button tug, but it’s amazing for pets because it’s super low to the ground and it isn’t like a shiny type of vinyl.

00:17:12:27 – 00:17:44:06

It looks like real leather in photos, and it’s indestructible to their claws into their slobber and their hair so that I have a storage space that I share with my son. And we kind of rotate furniture in and out, depending on what I want, because I do have some pieces I don’t want to get rid of like that couch, but it’s just too big to have it in the studio all the time. So I’ll bring it here, like if I know I’m going to be doing a specific pet that I think is going to look amazing on it, but it’s not usually here full time.

00:17:45:06 – 00:17:55:26

I like the idea of the storage space as someone who has a small studio that’s really smart. Do you have like a big truck as well to like, move furniture back and forth or?

00:17:56:21 – 00:18:06:29

Well, I used to, but we don’t anymore. So that’s where my son sharing the storage with him comes in handy because he has a truck, so I’m pretty sure he’s kind of sick of it by now.

00:18:07:21 – 00:18:08:18

Again, mom.

00:18:09:17 – 00:18:11:05

Exactly. Hey, that’s why

00:18:11:07 – 00:18:16:23

we have kids right to help our times of need. Just getting. That’s not why we

00:18:20:27 – 00:18:22:12

think anyone took me seriously.

00:18:25:00 – 00:18:36:14

Yeah, but that is helpful to be truck adjacent. I might be in California and we just have like Priuses and like not big cars. So I’m always like, How do people do this? Wait, how do people move furniture in? Like, Yeah, all that.

00:18:37:10 – 00:19:03:15

Our streets are smaller. Yeah. What was I going to say some. So you said you have particular pets that you might want to shoot on that particular sofa? How are you building out the idea of what animal goes into what? Are you like? Oh, this particular pet will look good on suitcases. How are you coming up with that idea?

00:19:04:00 – 00:19:35:08

OK, so what I do when somebody initially contacts me is I’ll have them send me photos of their pet, and I look first at the tones of their their fur because I love doing. I usually do four setups or I plan for setups for each pet and I let a. Of course, contracts are super important with your pet photography clients because you want to spell out exactly what they’re going to get for their time with you.

00:19:35:16 – 00:20:06:05

And one of the things is it really depends on the cooperation of the pet. Somewhat like I tell them, they’ll get 10 to 20 images and then I plan four sets with either different backdrops and different props. And then, depending upon how cooperative the pet is, we may or may not get through all four of those. We might end up with 10. You never know because sometimes I can just keep going. But I look at the tones of their fur and like doing tone on tone.

00:20:06:07 – 00:20:36:17

Like I said, browns look amazing with like all the fabrics that you can get at Joanne’s, it’s like a suede fabric. They have different brown tones there, so you can choose from like three or four different just browns and yorkies look awesome on them. I just photographed an Aussie, and the fur looked really, really great on the brown tones. So that’s one of the things I do. And then I look at what, like, what seamless paper they would pop up off of.

00:20:36:23 – 00:21:11:02

Awesome. Because like the one with the blue on blue, he looks amazing on that blue color, and that’s part of what makes it so great. So if it’s like a white pet, then I, you know, if it’s a boy or girl, it kind of depends. I go with like with tones that match, like if they’re a boy or a girl. Yeah, you know, just like a white cat would look amazing on a pink, seamless drop or. And then I always do the classic black kind of chalk backdrop that I have because I think all pets really look amazing on that, and I love the painterly look with pets.

00:21:12:03 – 00:21:18:10

So that’s another thing I think of is like what tones they would look best on what I’m doing my edits for the painterly look.

00:21:18:28 – 00:21:48:06

I was going to ask you, too, because you kind of touched on this about the four setups, ups and you can’t really know how many shots you will get because it depends on the cooperation. So how is this priced in? In the sense of is it like a minimum order? Are they definitely having to commit to a certain amount of wall art? I mean, what how do you know that this is going to be worth your time? And is it different price than like a normal kind of SBE glamour portrait shoot?

00:21:49:21 – 00:22:24:12

I actually charge the same for the pet photoshoots as I do the glamour shoots, even though those include professional hair and makeup. And the reason that I do that is because cleaning the studio after a pet shoot and before a shoot, it’s not. I mean, and it’s not like anybody’s pets are really super sloppy. It’s just that I have this studio that has coincidentally all this velvet furniture and dog hair and velvet furniture don’t go well. So there is a lot of work involved in cleaning up after the shoot, and I’ve had dogs that go to the bathroom on the floor and things like that.

00:22:24:14 – 00:22:36:11

So it’s just to me, it all kind of averages out and it’s worth the same amount, especially because the hustle that you have to do with a pet is a little bit different. So I think it’s worth the same.

00:22:37:02 – 00:23:12:06

Yeah, no. I was actually saying that. I think it’s worth potentially more like it sounds like more work because I’m just thinking about that. And maybe this isn’t all the photos that you deliver, but the ones that I’ve seen on your portfolio, like, they look so intensively retouched and it looks like there’s compositing potentially in it, and they’re so beautiful and you have these kind of what I would think is more elaborate sets than just like a canvas backdrop and a person like a woman. So to me, I was actually thinking like, it sounds like more labor to do a pet portrait.

00:23:12:08 – 00:23:21:18

So that’s why I was wondering if there’s like, you know, a $2000 minimum order and you have to get like a 16 by 20 or if there is anything like that, I

00:23:21:26 – 00:23:51:27

I don’t currently have that in place. I’m trying to. I’ve switched my packages up so that, you know, you don’t necessarily get the clients who are going to pay for the session fee and then end up just buying like an image or two. I I have just my collections listed. And if someone starts asking about, well, what if I just wanted one photo, then that’s when I direct them to like, Well, what are you thinking about wall art or what were you planning on like, you know, not a digital right?

00:23:52:11 – 00:23:52:28

Yeah, yeah.

00:23:53:00 – 00:24:08:28

Yeah, because yeah, it’s exactly the truth. Like, you want to make sure it’s worth your time and their time because it’s a lot of work for somebody to bring their pet in and to go through all of this. So usually, once you know, by the time we do, they’re pretty committed to wanting something special with it.

00:24:10:13 – 00:24:18:02

So my packages are all the same and they start at six images, just like with my my people packages and all the pricing is the same.

00:24:18:15 – 00:24:27:11

OK, that’s cool to know. And do you feel like you still sell more folio boxed or albums versus wall portrait? Because to me, like pets scream while portrait,

00:24:27:18 – 00:24:52:21

I know they do to me too. That’s one of my goals for this year is to get cracking on that. So far, it’s been more of the folio boxes, but I’m working towards the wall art and in doing that, I’m ordering guild canvases of the poodles I had recently just so that I have those to display because I haven’t shown that. And you know, they say you, you sell what you show, so I need to show it.

00:24:53:24 – 00:25:11:13

Yeah, yeah, I love that. Yeah, and that’s such a great goal to work on. I think like, you know, we all have next levels to reach. And I think like, yeah, your work is so amazing. It deserves to be like, yeah, on a gorgeous canvas with like a gold ornate frame around it. Huge on the wall. Like, I want that for you.

00:25:11:26 – 00:25:18:19

You know, I feel like everybody should have their, you know, their pet in a gold frame like above the fireplace.

00:25:19:09 – 00:25:22:12

Seriously, I do too.

00:25:23:06 – 00:25:43:22

Talking with I have a few other pet photographer friends and I’ve heard that wall series, just like the whole giant. Like, you know, if you’re in an area where you do have the walls, obviously California, maybe not so much. But if you have the wall space, just a huge just series of pet portraits seem to work really well.

00:25:43:27 – 00:25:45:04

And I think that’d be amazing.

00:25:46:05 – 00:26:19:17

And then also talking about like the composite work so you walked us through like the sets and everything. Are you kind of pre envisioning the little stories? Because that’s like one of the things that I really love about your work. Like I’m thinking now you had this one. I don’t know if there were. I’m guessing there were hamsters based on the fact that you just said you photograph hamsters, but they were like some small rodent ish type animals. Prairie dog. Prairie dogs. I can’t identify the little Polaroid like it was like little pictures that were falling.

00:26:19:19 – 00:26:28:20

I thought that was so like such a cute little story, but I was like, How do you like, like, pre-plan that idea? Or did it come to you after the fact or

00:26:29:16 – 00:27:01:16

so that one? I preplanned kind of. I was actually planning to use the Polaroid and the Polaroid pictures in another photo, which is when I did of a little girl. She’s holding the Polaroid and she’s taking a picture of a bulldog that’s sitting in the chair. And she’s got a squeaker in her hand. So it was all planned to be. That was for my personal work, and it was sort of like a self-portrait looking back in time at myself. So I found a girl that was like that age that I was when I used to take pictures of my cat and dog.

00:27:01:18 – 00:27:37:05

And I kind of like dressed her up in clothing that didn’t feel like any certain time, just sort of like from my childhood that would have been. And then I took the photo wanting it to be like how I was and put a really incredibly funny hat on the dog, which the Bulldog has. Just this really like rbf face all the time. So because when I got her to look over at the camera instead of the girl squeaking the squeaker. So the dog is sitting in the chair, looking at me, looking just incredibly irritated with this big, huge red floppy hat with flowers on it.

00:27:38:25 – 00:28:10:04

So that was the plan for the Polaroid. But then I had the Polaroid here in the studio. And so then when the prairie dogs were here, I actually love how the color red photographs. So I read a lot in my images and I had this little red hair and I was looking at the tones of the prairie dogs on the red chair and they kind of fit perfectly into it. So I did a bunch of pictures of them and then ended up like kind of the Polaroid was was here from the other shoots.

00:28:10:06 – 00:28:43:01

So, I just grabbed that. So it was like more in the moment during the shoot than I thought of it. But it’s was stuff I have around. So I do have things like sitting around here that is like the moment arises. We can do some fun stuff too like that. I didn’t necessarily plan, but it just works. And then they were super amazing with the camera like crawling around on it. And so I just took a bunch of pictures of them crawling on it. I didn’t really have to composite that part because they’re just checking out this piece of plastic and standing up on it and looking at it.

00:28:43:03 – 00:28:57:00

So it ended up being hilarious, and I just composited the other prairie dog at the bottom, like catching the the photos and then I composited the other pictures I had taken of them. So it looked like the Polaroids were actually of them. So it was pretty funny.

00:28:57:20 – 00:29:15:06

I would have thought that, like each prairie dog was composited in that photo, so that’s actually like mind blowing to me. It’s it’s, you know, it looks like it looks so realistic, but it looks so perfect that I just couldn’t like believe. Like no way he didn’t get those animals like pose like that. That’s got to be a trick.

00:29:15:26 – 00:29:38:24

Usually, the the prairie dog on the camera and the camera and the Polaroids were all there. I taped the Polaroids together with a piece of Scotch tape so that they hung like that. And then when I edit it, all I had to do was just like, edit out the little piece of scotch tape between each image. So they were all of that part was there, and all I had to do was composite the other prairie dog at the bottom.

00:29:39:07 – 00:29:41:11

Oh, wow, that’s that’s so impressive.

00:29:42:09 – 00:29:43:12

There was some trickery,

00:29:46:11 – 00:30:24:12

but a lot of like foresight, you know, like just realizing like in the moment like, Oh, I could build this and that that’s like, really impressive to me because I don’t know. Like, I don’t really get flustered on photoshoots anymore, but sometimes it’s still hard to like, come up with like something. I mean, I like that level of like, oh, I know that if I do these particular stops and I lay this out this way, I’m going to be able to like, fix it in the end. Well, sometimes I have that happen. Some a stroke of genius happens, but a lot of times it’s like, I kind of stick to my like photoshoot plan or template, you know? So sure, I find that really impressive.

00:30:25:06 – 00:30:57:25

I think it’s something about that. Animals, honestly, animals just spark their creativity in me. There’s like a side of me that’s still like a little kid when I’m around animals because I’ve just had such a love for them for so long. Like, when I was little, I was obsessed with the pictures in like Beatrix Potter books. Not really the stories themselves, because they’re not really not entertaining like you, but really old school kind of books. But the photos of the little tiny animals wearing clothes and doing like people things always like, just like, captured my creative side.

00:30:57:27 – 00:31:03:14

And so I think I just still have that in me. And when I’m photographing animals, that side comes back out.

00:31:04:14 – 00:31:20:17

So you brought up a squeeker earlier, I asked you what tools or pieces of equipment you have on said that could potentially help you during your shoot, potentially a squeaker. I know lint rollers, probably a big

00:31:21:18 – 00:32:07:00

hand after that. Oh yeah. Actually, one of the biggest tips and the things that works really well for me is to take my hoodie and tie it around my waist during shoots and fill the pockets with the dogs treats. And I always have my clients bring their preferred treats that they know their pet likes because number one you can have treats here that their pet doesn’t end up liking at all. So they’re so there’s no incentive there for them to do things and be good for that treat because they don’t like it. But number two, because you don’t really want to be giving them a whole different kind of treat that they’re not used to and then end up with your client having a dog, have an accident in the car on the way home or get really sick? Yeah, once they get home and you don’t want to be responsible for making somebody’s pet sick.

00:32:07:07 – 00:32:41:01

So I always tell them to bring their own treats, and I only feed what they bring. But I’ll fill my pockets of the hoodie that’s tied around my waist with the treats so that I have them constantly. And then I also put the squeakers in there. I have different squeakers that make different sounds because after a while, they’ll get sick of one and they’ll stop looking at it and they’ll start paying attention. So then I go to one that has a different kind of a sound. I usually hide the squeakers because they know when they see it and they hear this week it doesn’t surprise them.

00:32:41:03 – 00:33:14:02

But if you hide it and then pop it out like, or don’t even pop it out, but I’ll just like, stick it in the pocket and squeeze it, and they’re trying to figure out where it’s coming from, so they’ll look and be very curious because they don’t see what it is. So that’s definitely a trick that I use a lot. I do ask in my consultations now if somebody is afraid of squeakers and some people look at me funny. But I had a little wiener dog like one of my very first animal photoshoot. She was an older, I think, 12 years old, and I had her inside this box and she was looking so adorable and cute.

00:33:14:04 – 00:33:34:00

And then I squeaked my hidden squeaker and she flew out of the box like, Oh, she was scared to death. Like, and then the girl started laughing, kind of. But she was like, Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, I didn’t tell you she’s so afraid of squeakers. And like, it took another, you know, five minutes to get her calmed down because she was terrified. So,

00:33:35:18 – 00:33:40:26

All of the dogs. So yeah, I use squeakers, but I make sure to ask that question, now.

00:33:42:01 – 00:34:02:12

Yeah, that’s that’s a really good tip for people, too, because I was kind of wondering, like you mentioned using their treats, you mentioned the squeaker question like what else in terms of like just safety or thinking about like, yeah, just making sure that the pet has like a good, safe, positive experience.

00:34:03:09 – 00:34:37:14

What I ask, I’ll usually find out how old they are if they have any medical conditions or problems. I have photographed a lot of older dogs because, you know, people are wanting to make those memories while they still can. And sometimes when they get really old, they’ll have a problem just even being able to sit on the floor in my studio because it’s like it’s like a laminate flooring and they can’t sit down, you know, they’re kind of like sliding around. So I’ll make sure if it’s an older dog to ask all of those kind of questions so that I can have a rug to put them on.

00:34:38:06 – 00:34:47:01

Sometimes it’s all about texture and making them comfortable so they can get in a position that they can be photographed in. My contract has a ton of safety stuff.

00:34:48:16 – 00:35:00:18

Of course, it talks about obviously that I’m not going to have somebody bring like a ask about the dog’s temperament, like if they would be worried about the dog being upset or like biting and stuff like that.

00:35:02:03 – 00:35:23:07

But. So contracts are really important for pet photographers, just so that you have that in there and you talk about like, you know, the safety is the first thing. So if I ever ask you to or if I tell you I’m going to do something with your pet and it seems unsafe to you, I need you to tell me immediately because the dogs, the pet safety is the most important. I have been bit by

00:35:24:23 – 00:35:42:17

several animals, but not dogs. It’s always like a horse this morning. Oh wow. Yeah, a horse bit my knee and it was not fun and I got I’ve been bit by the prairie dogs. They were biters, so you just have to be really careful.

00:35:43:07 – 00:36:19:18

Yeah. Oh my gosh. I also want to ask since Kevin and I are cat people and how does that work? Because at least my cats are indoor cats and they do not travel well at all. Like the car is like a horrible experience for them. I mean, I’ve gone to the point that we pay for, like a mobile vet when they need a vet. So like, how do you deal with cat owners like myself who have like all these restrictions? Like, do you go to them? What can someone do if their cat owner and they want an amazing portrait of their pet?

00:36:20:13 – 00:36:53:24

If they are a cat owner and their cat is like yours and my cat, which I can’t even take to the vet because he’s like, he won’t. He gets so nervous. But if they’re like that, then I would suggest going to their home to do the photos. Honestly, most of the people who have brought cats here, their cats travel with them a lot, and they’re used to traveling. They’re used to going in the car and going to places like the groomers, cats. She she takes them everywhere with her. So when she brings them to the grooming salon and then I go, get them and bring them over here, they’re used to it.

00:36:53:26 – 00:37:02:27

They don’t think it’s weird. They’re they, they walk around, look around. But I did have somebody whose cat hid in the studio, which was then. It’s a problem.

00:37:03:07 – 00:37:03:22


00:37:04:01 – 00:37:23:07

You know, they can get into small spaces and I have like a closet behind a piece of furniture I have. And there’s a lot of stuff in there. So if the cat gets in there, then you’re kind, so it’s important to have a space that you can lock off in your studio so that if you’re photographing a cat, they can’t get into an area where you’re not going to be able to easily retrieve them.

00:37:23:20 – 00:37:47:10

Yeah, that’s a real solid point. Also, like with cats, you know the phrase herding cats, like they obviously aren’t dogs, they don’t like necessarily take commands or give, you know what? So how do you get them to, like, engage with the camera or stay like you said the area has to be locked off, but even stay in the area that like is the set that you planned.

00:37:48:06 – 00:38:40:19

It’s not easy. Usually what I do, and especially with cats, is I think that the less you try to make something exact like you, you’re just the best thing to do is to photograph them and just let them be themselves. The reason I use tables and chairs and things like that so often is because if you put the cat on a table or in a chair, it’s going to stay there for a second. And then you have a few seconds, hopefully to grab a picture before they jump down. So it really is just patience and putting them over and over again back onto the table or into that chair until you get to that, that few seconds you need because a lot of people will say like, Oh, your photos, all the pets look like they’re just sitting there so perfect and peaceful, how do you get them to do that? I’m like, I don’t like they’re all over the place that was just, a half a second right there that have to split.

00:38:40:27 – 00:38:58:25

Yeah, no. So it is a lot of patience and having somebody to help like pick the cat up and put it back on the table, give them stuff to look at. Like with the hairless cats that I photographed in the studio, their owner let them eat deli meat. So

00:39:00:12 – 00:39:31:09

and they loved it. They were, you know, you could put a deli meat kind of anywhere, and then they’d they’d look to that place like there’s one photo that I ancestors and it’s a hairless cat sitting in a chair looking. He’s like climbing up the back of the chair, staring at a framed photo of another hairless cat that’s sitting in that same chair. But it’s in a framed photo. And that one we literally took deli meat and hung it like off of the bottom of the frame.

00:39:31:29 – 00:39:35:07

Oh, that is hilarious

00:39:35:09 – 00:39:46:13

So the cat went crawling up there, stretching his neck out to look at the deli meat. And then I captured that photo, and it looks like he’s gazing at this piece of art that was up there, but it was actually the deli meat.

00:39:46:29 – 00:39:48:05

Oh, that’s so funny.

00:39:48:19 – 00:39:50:18

So you just get a little creative. Yeah.

00:39:50:20 – 00:40:04:14

So basically, you just have to find out from cat owners what their equivalent of a dog treat is like. Is it catnip? Is it deli meat? Is it natural meat for? Cat treats kind of thing.

00:40:04:20 – 00:40:35:06

Usually, I feel like most cats aren’t really like that, like incentivized by treats like dogs are. So you have to let the cat be the cat and, you know, capture as many. What I’ll do is just put them. If you know, if I’m worried, I’ll put them on my black backdrop because it’s easy to composite on the dark drop for me. So I just let them walk around and I take photos of them as they’re walking around and doing things, and usually they’ll jump up on a table by themselves because they’re curious and they’re checking things out.

00:40:35:15 – 00:40:49:00

So I just take photos of them literally being themselves for a long period of time and then gives me the ability to use those in composites later to put together something more creative.

00:40:49:16 – 00:41:08:20

That’s funny. I’m sitting here thinking about my own pets. I’m like, OK, I could do that with this particular cat. He’s super inquisitive. He wants to be like, I will set up a scene and just instantly, Oh, what’s going on up here? What’s going on up here? Right, right? I have another one who’s he’s my mean cat. He’s a jerk.

00:41:10:12 – 00:41:30:01

It’s like the moment like to say, I set up a scene and the moment I plop him down thinking, OK, I’ll just never get out of the way. I’m just going to pop the shot. No, the second I set his butt down onto the table, it’s like off. I pick him back up, set them back down. Fingers come off of him off.

00:41:31:23 – 00:41:34:15

I want a cute picture of you sit down.

00:41:36:14 – 00:42:06:23

Somebody cat is really crazy like that. I’ll do the photographs of them just kind of walking around and get as many as I can of them just sitting there or whatever. And then I’ll have the pet parent hold on to them in that same setting in a way that I can take the top half of their body and composite it onto a different bottom half. So it looks like they’re sitting there. Yeah, it makes it easier if you plan kind of what you need for composites. That’s one thing.

00:42:06:25 – 00:42:11:27

I do a lot and I’ll have them hold like the top of a cat and then the bottom of the cat, that sort of thing.

00:42:12:29 – 00:42:19:06

Set that up on a tripod so it doesn’t move in. Everything lines up correctly. Or are you doing that freehand?

00:42:19:13 – 00:42:20:20

I do it freehand and

00:42:21:10 – 00:42:21:25

Oh, wow.

00:42:22:00 – 00:42:52:09

Like the chicken picture with the three kids I did, that one was kind of a nightmare because that set those kids never met each other and they weren’t in the studio at the same time. So it was put together to look like its three siblings around a table with a chicken in a pan. And the chicken was here on a different day than all of the kids. But in between I was doing photoshoots. I would have to take the set down and put it back up So they were taken over like a six week period of time.

00:42:52:21 – 00:43:03:27

So that was a really tricky one because I was hand-holding the camera. So then you know that you have to make sure that you’re looking at it from the exact same angle and everything’s in the same place.

00:43:05:17 – 00:43:08:28

Oh, man, that sounds stressful right there listening to it.

00:43:09:06 – 00:43:20:10

It was. That chicken photoshoot, I think I saw one of your posters I was looking up information of like you laid down seamless backdrop paper on the photo.

00:43:20:26 – 00:43:22:24

Yeah, that was a really bad idea.

00:43:24:05 – 00:43:26:18

Had to bring in the chickens are sitting down and seamless.

00:43:27:06 – 00:43:49:03

The seamless was a great idea. It seemed like a way better idea than it was because I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I know chickens poop, right? I knew there was going to be chicken poop. So let’s put down the seamless and everything will be fine. I had no idea that when you get like 12 chickens and ducks in one place, how fast the poop like happens. Yeah, yeah.

00:43:51:18 – 00:43:52:22

I happened really fast.

00:43:54:06 – 00:43:56:14

At the very least, it wasn’t on the laminate. You know,

00:43:57:18 – 00:44:07:21

it was, I swear, for like eight months. I was cleaning feathers out of the studio that I would find in like the most random places. There’d just be like a feather or some place like, oh,

00:44:07:23 – 00:44:11:27

got a little leaf? That line didn’t. I was finding chicken coop everywhere.

00:44:16:01 – 00:44:42:10

Oh, that’s funny. I wanted to talk about your editing a little bit as well. Your images, like you mentioned, you have such a painterly look and it’s so beautiful. Are there any like specific techniques like sharpening or, you know, maybe like bringing up the highlights and bringing down the exposure or any specific tips like that that you’re doing in editing to create this very cohesive, painterly look across all your work?

00:44:43:27 – 00:45:08:22

Well, I did take Richard Wood’s creative portrait. I think the painter lean. I have all of the portraits, so I’m trying to think which one it was. I learned it in the painterly portraits where he talks about like his process, and I took certain things from his process and implemented them into mine. I also use overlays a lot

00:45:10:08 – 00:45:28:22

like textures. Yes, I have certain textures. There’s I have four different textures. I use all the time and they’re pretty much the same thing, just like different color tone variations. So depending on what the original image looks like and what I want to add to it like, I’ll pick the color tone kind of that I want.

00:45:30:11 – 00:45:32:27

I use those in a lot of dodging and burning

00:45:34:15 – 00:45:37:29

and alien skin or exposure x. I guess it is now.

00:45:38:01 – 00:46:14:05

Yeah, yeah. OK, that’s awesome. And then speaking of like the painterly portraits, I was wondering about this. Like when you’re lighting, you know, because you do get this painterly light. But then I was thinking, can you get Rembrandt light like on a pet? Probably not a perfect triangle or whatever on the cheek? No. Do you have any like lighting set ups that are your favorite for creating that like kind of painterly, directional light look, but maybe you can’t look for it the same way you would look for the cues to get good Rembrandt light on a person?

00:46:15:00 – 00:46:56:25

Yeah. So when I do the painterly photos and I really want them to be painterly with their pets, I do a set up, which is I have pro photos and I do one with like a beauty dish. I think I’m trying to think of the name of the modifier. It’s like the Joel Grimes, like traveling one. You know what I’m talking about? I don’t know. Yeah, sitting here to look at. But so I use that like kind of. Off camera left and pointing down at them, so that um then I have a fill, a big, huge umbrella for a soft fill that I’ll just pop a little bit in there because, yeah, that’s so

00:46:56:27 – 00:47:03:03

it is kind of like the same placement as the Rembrandt lighting. You’re just not really looking for like the triangle.

00:47:03:06 – 00:47:41:15

Yeah, yeah, it is hard because noses, and that’s another thing I did mean to mention dogs with very long noses or even not even that one just medium noses. It can cause a problem when you’re shooting. Your focus can tend to fall like on the end of the nose, and then their eyes won’t be sharp or appear on their eyes, and their eyes are sharp than the nose can be slightly out of focus. So what I always try to do if the dog has like a medium to a long nose is I always use an aperture of over five just so that your chances at the eyes and nose are both going to be in focus or higher.

00:47:41:27 – 00:48:11:03

And I also will photograph just like their face, their nose. I’ll have their owner hold them, or even sometimes and I’ll just photograph their nose from the front and then from each side on each backdrop, just in case, like for some reason, like a nose in an amazing photo or the eyes is something slightly not right. I have tack sharp noses or eyes that I can pull from.

00:48:11:16 – 00:48:13:21

Oh wow, that’s a really good tip.

00:48:13:29 – 00:48:26:19

Yeah, it comes in handy. Otherwise, you know, sometimes if you have the most amazing image and then something just a little off, it’s good to have a backup. And I’ve gotten like really fast at compositing noses, so.

00:48:29:22 – 00:48:37:14

I love that. I was going to ask you, what type of lighting are you using? Are using natural light or are you using constant light a strobe?

00:48:38:19 – 00:48:53:01

I use strobes and natural light, usually in all of my shoots, so I don’t have any constant, although that is good to have for pet photographers because sometimes the animals can get kind of afraid from the strobes.

00:48:53:12 – 00:49:04:13

Yeah, exactly what I was. I was going to try to ask because I would assume just, you know, a larger modifier. You just pop pop, pop right of light, you know, depending on pet could be scary for them.

00:49:04:18 – 00:49:29:13

Yeah, it can be. I haven’t really had too much of a problem with that. There was one animal that was really afraid of the strobes and it was a a pot bellied pig. Oh, and I was at the People’s House doing her photos, and every time the flash went off, she was like, super freaked out. So we ended up taking her outside and I just did natural light.

00:49:30:17 – 00:49:33:02

Well, that makes sense. Make a little bit more comfortable.

00:49:33:09 – 00:49:51:15

Yeah, but yeah, maybe having like a little constant light kit is like a good tip for people who want to do pets and like on location and stuff. Because you can’t. I would assume you can’t rely on like the interior of someone’s house having the kind of light that you want to work with.

00:49:52:11 – 00:50:11:23

Exactly. Yeah, I don’t. I don’t know. I haven’t. I guess I need to play more with. I do have a constant light. I just haven’t I haven’t really used it that much. I suppose if somebody told me it, like, I talk to people ahead of time to find out and if they thought it was going to be an issue, for sure, I’d have it out. It’s always good to have like many plans, so

00:50:13:11 – 00:50:18:03

so when something goes a little sideways, you have this to pull from or that or, you know,

00:50:19:29 – 00:50:36:09

and with the big animals like horses, I assume you’re always kind of going on location for that. Yeah, when you do that, you bring like a backdrop with you. Or do you just work with like the kind of cool environment of the like equestrian stables?

00:50:37:03 – 00:51:00:25

Most of the shoots I’ve already done, I’ve done with the environment. I am planning on bringing a black, a backdrop to a stable in the very near future. So then honestly, I love how the actual portrait portraits look of horses where they are on a backdrop. I think it’s amazing. I haven’t yet done it, so I’m super excited to try it out with my lighting.

00:51:01:07 – 00:51:03:04

That’s exciting. I can’t wait to see those.

00:51:04:17 – 00:51:25:07

So with the obviously, the patients are very animals different. But have you noticed a specific time frame where you realize, yeah, this is probably the the the time limit that an animal’s able to be in front of the camera? I know many of us get tired of you constantly hear, yeah, four or five hours shoot time is too long.

00:51:25:09 – 00:51:26:25

Oh my gosh. Yeah, no.

00:51:28:20 – 00:52:00:21

Yeah, you really want to get. If things aren’t going well with the scenario or something that you’re trying, you kind of just want to move on to the next thing, because if you keep trying for that perfect shot, you might end up wearing out the pet before you even get the chance to get something perfect. So that’s what I mean. I’d suggest always. Just if it’s, you know, if you’re working at it too hard and it’s not working out, just move on to the next thing and come back to that, maybe at the end or something because I try to keep my shoots for like pets an hour and 90 minutes max.

00:52:01:17 – 00:52:09:01

Oh, OK. So and there’s obviously no hair and makeup time unless what? Maybe the pet does the pet owner ever get their hair and makeup done

00:52:09:03 – 00:52:44:29

to get in? Oh yes, actually, I had the girl who someone flew here from New York for me to photograph her standard poodles, and she actually did hair and makeup, which was fine because while she was getting hair and makeup, then I was photographing the pets by themselves. And sometimes that’s a good thing because pet parents are it’s sort of the same kind of, you know, when you’re photographing a toddler and the parents are there and sometimes you’re like, if the parents weren’t here, this would be going so much better. Sometimes with pets, it’s the same because they literally manipulate their owners in the same way.

00:52:45:01 – 00:53:15:03

It’s funny. And so it’s true. And if they’re being extremely bad during the shoot, I’ll just be like, OK, sit down here and talk to me. We’re not here because of this pet anymore. We’re just going to chat like, You’re here, you’re my friend. We’re having coffee. You totally ignore your dog. Don’t even look at them. Let’s just sit here and talk. And nine times out of 10, the dog will go over and actually do what we’ve been trying to get it to do because it’s like, Wait, why did you stop paying attention to me? Like, I want to get your attention again? It’s really bizarre.

00:53:15:27 – 00:53:18:02

That’s funny. Just goes over okay.

00:53:20:02 – 00:53:22:05

Exactly. Thank you. They’re ready.

00:53:22:26 – 00:53:44:07

It reminds me of like I used to watch Cesar Milan show a lot and he would always talk about. It was like he was really training the owner more than the dog, so it’s just really interesting about like people’s energy and their own relationships with their animals, and that can be like a hindrance or helpful, depending on the situation.

00:53:44:15 – 00:54:24:07

It can be, and sometimes I will ask them to just go, Hey, can you just go into the lobby for a few minutes? Because the pet is being distracted by them or, you know, kind of not behaving because of them. And I think they somehow know when they want really badly for their dog to behave perfectly, then the dog doesn’t. And sometimes people want it so bad they interfere too much with the shoot and it starts being a real distraction. Like I’ve noticed, they always tend to stand to the side, not anywhere near me, you know, 8 feet away, and they keep calling to their dog, not realizing that it’s not helping, but it’s actually keeping the dog from engaging with me and with the camera.

00:54:24:15 – 00:54:45:25

So I have to gently remind people, sometimes many times because it’s just their habits. Keep saying their dog’s name and trying to get their dog to do something cute. So if somebody keeps doing that, I do ask them to stand like right above me or behind me so that when the pet is looking at them, it looks like they’re looking at the camera. That’s a huge tip.

00:54:46:17 – 00:54:58:06

Yeah, I was I was wondering. I was all like, What happens when you have a pet parent who’s like, Yo, Fido, look over here. No, no, no. Over here. And then, you know, just waving arms. It’s like, Yeah,

00:54:59:22 – 00:55:09:02

yeah, it happens a lot. And you know, they have the best intentions, and they’re trying really hard to make sure the photoshoot goes well, but they don’t realize they’re actually doing the opposite.

00:55:10:16 – 00:55:29:22

Well, we are getting toward the end of the conversation, but I know we want to ask you a few last question, so. One for me is like if you were to give someone who is just starting out with pets like just the number one bottom line, take away advice. What would it be to get started in pet photography?

00:55:31:12 – 00:56:02:06

Well, I think I mostly use a 50 millimeter lens all of the time with pets in studio. I mean, I guess like when I go on location, I use a different different lenses. But in studio 50 made millimeter is perfect. So that would be my go to tool. And then I would say just keep it simple, like lighting with one big light is better than, like trying to do too many crazy light setups and wearing the pet patience thin.

00:56:02:18 – 00:56:05:00

So initially I would just like keep it simple,

00:56:06:26 – 00:56:16:14

not too many props, not too much craziness. And then as you build and you start realizing like what works and what doesn’t, you can adjust accordingly.

00:56:17:06 – 00:56:44:07

So aside from the like lens type, you know, they’re anything like you feel you should start off with like, Oh, you know, I need or you just said earlier that no squeakers, they might get scared. But are there like, you know, feathers or something that you feel someone starting out? This is the, you know, two or three things that really are going to help you get the attention of the animal and getting started.

00:56:44:24 – 00:57:15:29

I definitely squeakers as long as you confirm that they’re not afraid of squeakers, things like this is funny. But for small dogs, I really find like newborn props helpful. I’m not really into props and I try to use them minimally. But with dogs again, it’s that whole keeping them holding still for a second. So newborn props come in handy, like the little beds or boxes, something you can put them in so that they don’t jump away or jump out immediately. It’s good to have.

00:57:18:08 – 00:57:50:16

I guess I would say you don’t really need. That’s the cool thing about the pet photographer. You don’t need a ton of stuff because it’s really all about the pet, right? Yeah, as long as you have a backdrop and you have something like any platform, type stuff works great, like a table or an old trunk, like you said, a vintage suitcase, whatever something, you can put them on that will just keep them there for a second and then even. Another thing that’s good if you don’t have a squeaker handy and you want to photograph a dog.

00:57:50:25 – 00:58:06:08

I love just sitting back up against the door and then when they’re not expecting it and they’re not paying attention, I’ll knock on the door and the dog is like, Oh, look up like someone’s knocking on the door. So it’s it’s kind of, you don’t really need that much.

00:58:06:29 – 00:58:10:27

Oh, that’s awesome. You get the ear perks I’m assuming there.

00:58:10:29 – 00:58:30:07

Yeah. And oh yeah, I do always ask people about their head tilt words. That’s another thing that’s part of our consultation when I do have them also come to the studio before their shoot so that the dog can walk around, smell the place and they remember it when they come back, I think. But I ask all their head tilt words and remember those and use them.

00:58:31:05 – 00:58:50:02

Oh, that is fantastic advice. Well, thank you very much, Shelley. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to talk to you and find out all these tips and tricks and helping with the animals we have come towards the end. And before we let you go, if you can go ahead and share with us your social media locations, the platform where people can find you.

00:58:50:18 – 00:59:02:22

Oh, OK. I am on Instagram under Franklin Photography, A-Z and also Franklin Photography Pets. And then I’m on Facebook at Franklin Photography A-Z.

00:59:03:22 – 00:59:37:03

Awesome. Oh everyone, please, please, please be sure to go follow Shelley and make sure to follow The Portrait System on Instagram and on Facebook as well. Be sure to check out our blog posts that are associated with our Clubhouse interviews at You can also follow Ashleigh on Instagram and Ashleigh Taylor portrait that is AS.H.L.E.I.G.H. And you can find me there as Pop Light_Photography. If you are a member of Sue Bryce Education and you have more questions for Shelley, Ashleigh or myself.

00:59:37:13 – 00:59:55:24

Go tag us in a post in the SBE members only Facebook group. And if you are not a member of Sue Bryce Education and you are interested in learning more about how you can help your business succeed, Contact Ella on our support team by emailing Thank you again for joining us and hope you can join us next week.

Thanks again for listening today. And don’t forget, you can listen to either me or our special guests every Friday on Club House at 11:00 a.m. Pacific. Thank you so much for listening to the Portrait System Podcast. Your five-star reviews really help us to continue what we do. So, if you like listening, would you mind giving us a review wherever you listen? I also encourage you to head over to, where you can find all of the education you need to be a successful photographer. There are over 1,000 on-demand educational videos on things like posing, lighting, styling, retouching, shooting, marketing, sales, business, and self-value

There’s also the 90 Day Startup Challenge, plus so many downloads showing hundreds of different poses. We have to-do checklists for your business, lighting PDFs, I mean truly everything to help make you a better photographer and to make you more money. Once again, that’s