Venturing Into the Pet Photography Business

Pets have always been known to be a part of the family. Specializing in pet photography has never been more lucrative and there is a growing demand in the market for this field. It’s not unusual for pet lovers to pamper and spoil their pets, and having them photographed by a professional is another much sought out service for pet owners to indulge in.

It’s always a great start to incorporate something that you love with work, this way you’ll never think of what you do for a living as work. It would be a double delight to love both photography and animals. The challenges of beginning a pet photography business would be welcoming.

Turning a fast profit in a pet photography business is easy and hassle free. It doesn’t cost much and you don’t need a studio in the initial stages of the business.  All you need for a start is a digital camera, an eye for the trade and a fondness for animals. The trick of the trade is a cinch to remember, just think 4 P’s – pets, patience, practice and plentiful pictures. Patience is needed when it comes to dealing with the short attention span of animals. Always have handy toys and treats to capture and hold the attention of your subject. 

A pet photography business will not need a big space when setting up a studio. Just make sure you have an accessible entrance/exit, a waiting room to make the pets as well as their owners comfortable, and extra space for pet props and paraphernalia. Your other photo equipment can be stored in a smaller storage area to leave your limited space free of clutter that can get in the way of your work. Try to set up shop near a pet supply store or by a pet grooming service to ensure you have a constant supply of clientele.

Another tip to get you on your way to making your business profitable is to get to know the people in the pet industry businesses such as pet groomers and pet store owners. Start networking with them and help each other out. You provide different types of services yet cater to the same market. By networking you can easily get a lot of paying clients. You can also offer taking photos of some pets after they’ve been groomed and give them for free for pet groomers and veterinarians to hang on their walls as free advertisement for your services.

Another part of building a business is making sure you will be noticed and recognized. One sure way of achieving this is choosing a catchy and witty name for your business. Part of your marketing strategy is to build a brand and establish a positive reputation. Having these will well get you on your way to having a booming business. Utilize all available marketing strategies such as brochures, flyers and calling cards. Build your website and create a portfolio where prospective clients can view samples of your work and know your options for pet stock photos. Selling your pet photographs online as stock is also one effective way to earn more.

Once you’ve established yourself in the community as a great pet photographer you can think about maintaining a client base by being active in pet events such as dog shows, horse dressage contests, and the like. This will further expose you to potential clients who will want to hire your services. 

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Strange Sounding Photography Terms Explained

Photography is full of technical terms, from simple and easy to understand words to highfalutin jargon. Then there are also the funny, strange sounding words that make us smile as we wonder what it means. I gathered a list of these terms that may sound silly but are quite important in the language of photography:

Scrim – this is thin material (usually fabric, but seamless paper is also used) that is placed between the subject and the light to reduce its harshness or intensity.  It can be made of a gauzy, almost transparent sheet that becomes part of a diffusion panel when it is fastened on a frame. Scrims are quite handy since they are lightweight and portable, they don’t cost much and they’re very effective. Scrims are often used for outdoor shoots when you don’t want the glare of the sun to cause blown out spots or make your model squint.

Hot shoe – this is when, after hours of walking around taking pictures, your shoes and feet start to get hot. Kidding! This term refers to the clip at the top of your camera where you attach your external flash unit. It electrically links the flash to the shutter mechanism and synchronizes the two when the shutter button is triggered.

Snoot – ‘Snoot’ sounds like ‘snout’ and come to think of it, it does look like one. This is a cone shaped shield or cylinder that is attached to a light head such as a flashgun to project a concentrated light beam to the subject. It prevents light spill and allows you to direct the light to a smaller area than if there was no snoot.

Parallax – this is the image difference between what you see in the viewfinder and what the lens sees and captures. The viewfinder is not in the same exact spot as the lens, more often than not it is an inch or two above it, and so there is a variation which gets more noticeable the closer the subject is to the camera.

GoBo – slang for ‘goes beyond optics’, a gobo is something that changes or blocks the beam of light as it leaves your light source. There might be areas in your setup that you do not want lighted and this is where a gobo can come in handy. These can also be used for effect, such was with colored glass gobos or metal gobos formed into shapes (like stencils) which will create similar shadows shapes that adds to the elements in the shot. If your light beam can be adjusted from soft to strong light, it can then either make the shapes soft and diffused or hard and well defined.

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Tips on How to Turn Abstract Concepts to Effective Stock Images

The stock image industry is filled to the brim with all kinds of images that cater to a global market. The intent is to cover the customers’ image needs. A lot of these are for straightforward images such as product shots but there is also a huge market for images that present an abstract concept, such as a visual representation of the concept of ‘business’ or ‘health’.  Oftentimes, these kinds of shots are harder to capture since you are trying to transform an idea into something more concrete, which is the image. The following are three popular abstract concepts with helpful tips on how you can create stock photos that represent them:

1. Love – put your own spin to cliché images that show the concept of love such as people hugging or kissing, red paper hearts, heart balloons, chocolate hearts and the like. Although your image may be perfectly exposed and composed, it could get buried under the thousands of similar images from other good photographers. Instead of a young couple kissing, why not make it an old couple instead. Instead of composing some chocolate hearts on a white background, why not have someone about to eat the chocolate heart instead. By going a step further, you are separating yourself from the pack. Keep in mind that the concept of ‘love’ has many levels, such as ‘familial love’ and ‘romantic love’. Try to compose shots which portray various kinds of love.  Examples of images that convey ‘love’ are a father holding his baby, a child and her pet, and a mother hugging her elderly parent.

2. Health and Fitness – nowadays, people of all ages are very health conscious and there are millions of products and services that offer the concept of a healthy lifestyle. The concept of good health is dear to our hearts and images that convey this are widely popular. When creating a shot, first imagine what you would consider as promoting health and fitness. Common topics would be diet and exercise so the next step is to use a subject or shoot a scene that shows this. People jogging, vitamin pills, gym equipment, and healthy looking people exercising are some examples. Again, the trick is to avoid shots similar to what others are offering. Play with your camera angle, the framing, the depth of field, etc. to further push your concept.

3. Work/Business – the most common stock images that show the concept of business are people in business attire, briefcases, office desks and handshakes.  There is nothing wrong with having a good quality stock image that shows any of these examples but you must remember that the competition has similar images of their own. To add your own creative touch, why not make use of workers that are less noticed and who normally do not wear business suits to work such as fishermen or construction workers.

Whatever concept you are trying to present, always keep in mind that these are for stock and as such, need to have commercial and resale value. Customers should be able to use them to promote their own products and services. Also the idea should be immediately clear to the customers and not make them wonder what is the message you are trying to get across.

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The Don’ts of Photography

There are a lot of do’s and don’ts in the art and craft of photography. In other articles, we had given lots of tips on the ‘do’s’, or what you can do to further improve your skills. In this particular article, we will focus on what NOT to do when practicing the craft:

Do not get stuck with shooting the same kind of images – part of polishing your photographic skills is to shoot images that take you out of your comfort zone. This allows you to discover new ways to shoot your subject, from the lighting to how to compose it. It also gives you the chance to see your subject differently and with a creative eye. If you always take landscape shots but rarely use your camera for macro or close up shots, why not try switching styles for a change and see what lessons you can teach yourself. 

Do not ignore the manual mode – if you always use the auto mode, you would know that it can be quite convenient and easy to use since the camera decides the ‘appropriate’ settings needed. However, it can also be limited and the result may not be exactly what you would have wanted the picture to turn out. Using the manual mode would give you much more control over the camera settings and thus, the outcome of the shot. 

Do not wipe the dust off the lens with the edge of your shirt or a paper napkin – please resist the temptation to use your shirt, a piece of tissue, a table napkin or anything else that is not meant for cleaning lenses. They may look clean and spotless but their very fibers could be rough enough to leave scratches on your sensitive glass. 

Do not cover the flash with a finger – this is a common error with compact cameras where the flash is located at the corner of the camera and very close to where you would normally grip the camera when taking a shot. Always be aware of anything that might block the flash as you are taking your photo. 

Do not place a person right in front of a pole, a light post or a thin tree – doing this would give the illusion that the person in the picture has some unattractive appendage growing out of his or her head. Always be aware of your background and how you are positioning your subject in relation to it. 

Do not forget to charge your camera’s batteries – have you ever experienced a situation where you are about to shoot a once in a lifetime moment when your camera’s battery suddenly dies? Or a time when you go to an event and turn on your camera to take pictures and your camera will not even start? It can be frustrating to say the least and unless you have a spare battery on hand. 

Don’t leave home without a camera – a lot of great photo opportunities could be missed for the simple reason that you did not have your camera with you at the time. Try to have a camera with you when you go out, you never know what rare photographic moments you may encounter and want to take a picture of. A phone camera or a simple point and shoot is sufficient for the job. 

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Another 10 Ways to Turn Your Photographs in to Cash

Here are more useful ideas that may just turn you a fast buck for those photographs you have stored in your computer. Who knows, you may have a gold mine just waiting to be discovered.

1. Customize your own writing paper – many fancy writing paper come with printed designs, why not your photographs. Create your own stationary and notebooks that have your very own images printed on them and sell them in stores or online.

2. Offer your work to furniture stores – furniture stores always need a mock up living space to show their customers what their merchandise would look like when set up in their homes. There’s no better way to add a homey touch to furnishings than framed photographs. This is also a great opportunity to marker your art.

3. Offer your images to software companies – software companies are always in need for stills to use in their packaging, discs and backgrounds. Sift through your files of images and look for possible options you can offer to software companies.

4. Use your images as book covers – every year is another batch of kids moving onto the next grade and many students opt to personalize their school books by covering them in attractive paper. Print out your images on paper and market them to students to use a covers for their school books.

5. Print your images on bags – anything and everything can be placed on a bag to liven it up, why not your images. You can even design you own tote bags that can be made to order that can be personalized. Offer portrait photography services for your customers and you can print their pet or child on a bag.

6. Enlarge your images based on flat screen TV sizes – almost every household has a flat screen TV since its prices dropped, the demand for it sky rocketed. Most of them can display uploaded images and can be used to accentuate a whole room instead of hanging there drab and flat, it can be a colorful center piece.

7. Use you images to tell a story – not every story teller needs to be a graphic artist. Photography is a visual art form that can also be used to illustrate a story.

8. Use your images as a wallpaper design – almost every household has a computer and every computer needs a desktop wallpaper. Sell them online as downloadable images that any computer owner can use to liven up their monitors.

9. Offer your services to organizations – every organization that stands for a cause needs images to fire up their purpose to gain more supporters. Check out your local neighborhood organizations and start matching your images to their cause and market it to them.

10. Offer your specific images to auctioneers in various buying and selling websites – images help sell anything. There are numerous online buy and sell websites that have customers that need images of practically anything and everything. Photograph images of your own thing at home that are commonly sold online and offer them to sellers.

Whatever type of images you have stored there just waiting to be discovered, you’re sure to find some use for it. You just may be surprised at the earning power you images may provide. It would make a nifty side line for you.

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New Holiday eCards Available!

The holiday season is here! While the time off, superb food and great company await, why not send out a holiday eCard from your Photostockplus account wishing a great holiday season to your clients and loved ones!

We have 2 brand new Holiday themed eCards available for you just in time for the holidays:


To send an eCard with a custom holiday message through your account, follow this quick tutorial for a step by step guide:

Now is the time so get cracking and send out those holiday eCards!

Ilan Artzy

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Using Facebook to Market Your Photo Business, Part 2

In order to have a steady stream of customers, you need to find way to market your services as a photographer. Get in with the times by promoting your photo business online in probably the most popular social networking site in the world, Facebook. We have written previously about how to use the features of Facebook for just that purpose and here are several more tips to get you going:

Upload videos to share your ‘behind the scenes’ process – photos of how you set up your images are great but video footage of them are even better! Take advantage of the video option to share how you do your photo shoots, how you compose and light up your subjects. Video sessions are extremely popular and highly informative since clients can get to see exactly how your creative process works, from the preparations to the final result. For fans who want to learn more from you, you can also use video tutorials. There are some instructions that are easier understood when shown through a video tutorial rather than by reading them.

Build a solid client base – the strength of Facebook is in relationship marketing and less so at direct selling. Build connections and relationships with your clients and potential clients through regular interactions. You will have more success in getting sales this way plus a lot of regular and satisfied clients.

Invite people to your event by creating an event page – in case you are organizing or hosting an event for your photography business, use the Facebook event option to invite prospective and current clients. Having an event page allows you to spread the word to a large audience without much effort. It also allows others to RSVP so you know who are going and who cannot make it. This is not a substitute for formal (as opposed to virtual) invitations but it is a convenient way to make people aware of your event. The events page includes the details of the event such as date, time and location. You can also place a profile picture such as an image of the event poster. Another feature is that one can leave public comments which can be read by others and if these testimonials are positive and complimentary, then they certainly add to the appeal. You have the option to show the guest list so that others can know who else is planning to attend.

Try using the Facebook advertisement feature– with this option, you can create advertisements that appear on the pages of your target audience. This is another effective way to promote your business as well as increase awareness of your presence in the industry. Facebook does a great job of guiding you in setting up your ad campaign, and you have control over how much you want to spend to keep it running. You can set a limit to the ad budget and Facebook will stop showing your ads once you reach that limit. If it is your first time to use this feature, it would be wise to set up one advertising campaign at a time while you are learning the ropes so you can fully concentrate on it.

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More Fantastic Family Portraiture Tips

Shooting group portraits, especially those of your family, can be challenging since you are dealing not just with a single model, but several of them. Each member would be different in height, looks and personality and not only will you be focusing on how to create the shot but also how to successfully direct the family to pose. We previously explained some tried and tested family portraiture tips, and here are some effective suggestions you can use as to how to take great family portraits:

1. Vary the eye levels of your subjects – visually pleasing group shots usually have the subjects at different heights. Have some people sit while others stand. This will lessen the sense of monotony in the shot.

2. Make subjects interact – have the subjects in your family photographs get closer together. Minimizing the gaps between the subjects provides a sense of closeness. A family setting should connote a sense of intimacy and love. Ideally have each member hug, hold hands, or touch the person closest to them. Body language links people together and this is the perfect example to relay feelings or emotional impact when looking at the photograph. When your subjects are lined up for a photograph, position them at slight angles to each other and make sure that their shoulders overlap so that they will not look awkward. When dealing with large groups in a single shot, break them down into smaller groups to make it easier for you to coordinate the shot. You can arrange them in a diamond, zigzag or triangular formation.

3. Make sure your subjects do not blink during the shot – when shooting group photographs, the hardest part is not having at least one of them blink. It is easy to reshoot for small groups but for larger groups, it is next to impossible. It does not help to shoot in continuous mode because one is bound to blink. Do a countdown to make sure that everyone is aware that you will be clicking the shutter button any moment so that they will be conscious and will not blink. A really useful tip is to tell all your subjects to close their eyes at the same time and do a countdown, then open their eyes all at once. This will surely guarantee that they will all have their eyes open at the same time without needing to blink.

4. Choose a lens that has the right focal length – the most eye-catching portrait images are created using lenses without zoom, known as prime lenses. Some zoom lenses can also give you great close-up shots. Wide-angle lenses can make subjects wider than they actually are while telephoto lenses have the reverse effect and can make your subjects appear flat. Beautiful portrait images can be captured using lenses with focal range of 50mm-100mm. Having a shallow depth of field blurs the background and brings the focus to the subject. 

5. Get your subjects’ attention – when you are dealing with grown-ups and teenagers, getting their attention for a few seconds will not be as difficult compared to when you are dealing with babies, toddlers and older children. You will need to capture the attention of younger subjects to get a good shot. You may have to try hard to make them laugh, to the point of being silly. You can ask a whole group of children to do something fun together. This will give you a candid as well as a fun image. Best of all, this can make the children comfortable for the next shot. 

On a final note, remember to include yourself in your shots because you are also a part of the family. Use your tripod, a cable release or a camera with a shutter timer. While composing the group position, leave a space for you to fit in before the timer starts counting down. 

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4 New Features!

Talk about an update! Our tech team has been burning the midnight oil to kick off this year right with the addition of 4 new features extending flexibility, control and functionality through your Photostockplus account!

2 for 1

You will now have the ability to set up to 3 products with a 2 for 1 discount! Once set, using eye catching font and text, these products will automatically be advertised to your clients as they browse your galleries, making them aware of your current promotions and encouraging larger orders!

Setting up a 2 for 1 product can be done on the pricing page while editing a pricing group:

For complete details on how to set these new discounts, visit our new 2 for 1 tutorial page.
Multi Image Self Fulfill Products – Improved Client Experience

For those of you providing your clients with Multi Image Self Fulfillment products, we have made some major improvements geared towards providing a smoother client experience.

Features have been modified and added at the image selection portion of the customization including:

  • New ‘All’ button to quickly select an entire album and images shown on a page.
  • New ‘None’ button to quickly remove all selections.
  • New Image Indicator to show your client which images have already been added to the product in order to avoid duplicates.

Photo Selector – Before

Photo Selector – After

Other modifications have been made on the product customization page itself with the following additions:

  • New ‘Remove All Photos’ button to quickly remove all current photos
  • New ‘Remove Selected Photos’ allowing users to scan through images, tick unwanted selections and remove them all with one simply click.
  • Modified image order functionality allowing users to select an image and place it before or after any image quickly.

Image Downloads within a Package!

As you have requested, the Image Download product is now available for you to add to your custom discount packages!

Pricing Page – Reverse Calculator

Another requested feature by you, the user. You can now simply put in the final cost you wish your products to be set at and let the reverse calculator deal with the proper mark-up!

A strong start to the year doesn’t mean that we’re slowing down though … It’s quite the opposite actually. We have many improvements in the works so stay tuned for more updates coming your way soon.

As always, the best way to stay up to date on service improvements, updates and other goodies is by following us through Twitter, Facebook or subscribing to our RSS feed .

Photostockplus Dev Team

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Holiday Email Marketing Solutions!

The holiday season is around the corner and now is the ideal time to start marketing to that email list!

If you have been using the 'mandatory email login' feature for your event albums, you may export a list of email contacts you have collected thus far and market a highly effective end of the year special to these potential clients!

You can run an enticing and time sensitive offer by setting up a volume discount through your Photostockplus account!

We are currently offering a complete 'Email Marketing Assistance Package' for your first mailer campaign including all of the following:

  • Email Import to iContact
  • Custom Mailer Content
  • Branded Mailer Design
  • Gallery Discount Setup

For only $149, let our marketing experts help you decide on the proper promotion and take care of the complete set up and mailing of your first mailer campaign to assure a smooth email delivery without a glitch!

Take a look at the following mailer for an example of the quality you can expect letting us help you with your holiday promotion!

For more information or to place your order for the 'Complete Email Marketing Assistance Package', contact us today!

Please note that long term and more advanced email marketing strategy maintenance and implementation is also available. Please contact us for more details.


Have some HTML and marketing experience and want to run a mailer campaign on your own?

Photostockplus has partnered with iContact in order to help you send targeted visual HTML mailers (much like this one) to your email list and clients!

iContact makes email marketing easy with the help of templates and a straight forward platform providing you with detailed reporting and tracking for every message sent!

Use the links provided in this mailer, or click here for a special free trial offer!

We look forward to assisting you with an effective and profitable mailer strategy this holiday season!

Best regards.

Ilan Artzy

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