During the initial consultation and on-site, whether we’re in my studio or the client’s home, we’ll discuss their plans for the pet’s photographs. Will they be destined for the bookshelf as 5x7s? Wall portraits as 16x20s? Notecards? If wall portraits, can you pinpoint the room where they’ll be displayed? Will coordinating color schemes with the backdrops enhance the presentation? Is there a mood you’re after? Are there any photographs in my Web portfolio you especially like, or have you seen something you’d like the final image to resemble?
All these questions help me shape the way I approach the shoot, and help dictate what arrives in my gear bags.
We also discuss various print media. I have samples of lustre print papers, prints made with Kodak’s ENDURA Metallic paper, canvas on mat board, canvas on stretcher frames, and even canvas gallery wraps, which are becoming ever more popular.
We go over package prices, too, to get a better idea of how many prints the client is looking for. This saves time for all involved on the back end.
Licking the Dish
I also sell a good amount of stock pet imagery, offering discount options to clients to participate if I have a spec for photographs I know I will need, such as a dog being walked, playing with a ball, eating dry kibble, and so on. I’m always sure to get a signed release in these cases.
If the spec is specific, such as particular breeds, I’ll ask a local pet shop, groomer, or trainer to flip through client files to see if they might know someone with an animal the stock client is looking for. My relationship with these info-rich sources is invaluable and highly cherished. Without them, my network for “models” would be slim. Knowing that many will have graduated from a training school is definitely a confidence builder, too. I’ll always offer a barter for their client list access, making photos for their business ad copy or website, or for their personal enjoyment.
When engaged in a stock shoot with me, their clients receive compensation in the form of time-for-prints. Later, all involved are thrilled to see their dogs, cats, or birds in magazine and book pages. Referrals are also borne of these dealings. In addition, I network with local rescues and animal charities for which I volunteer.
Pets have contributed to more than 50 percent of my working photography, and I’m always finding new outlets for sales. My approach of considering each animal as an individual, as well as trying to keep the subject happy and engaged, the clients happy with the results, and myself happy with the art, is, well, nothing to bark at.
Christopher Appoldt of Christopher Appoldt Photography (www.christopherappoldt.com), in Port Washington, Huntington, and New York, New York, specializes in portraiture, editorial, and digital fine-art work. He contributes regularly to magazines and books, caters to local businesses, and enjoys capturing Long Island landscapes and wildlife during his fleeting free time.