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new to forum #23781
06/28/09 09:43 AM
06/28/09 09:43 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Massachusetts
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Loueen Offline OP
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Loueen  Offline OP
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Massachusetts
I was very happy to come across your pet photography forum!I have been looking at all the posts and have enjoyed all the wonderful photos.
Like a lot of people here I take photos for rescue. The rescue I volunteer for is a breed rescue specializing in German Shepherds. I've been taking photos for this rescue for about 3 years now.
I do not have a studio or lighting other than my external flash, the majority of the shoots are done outside, and I'm strictly an amateur. I sure wish I could be pro though
I have had German Shepherds for many years and currently have two of my own. The shots I'm including here are dogs that were in foster homes. They are more difficult to work with than my own two that are more relaxed and take direction.
I am shooting with a handicap....Sony Alpha 100 It's VERY noisy with anything higher than 400 iso, and just doesn't do well in low light.
I'm very interested in what helps the dogs, and also advice on what works for other rescue photographers. The rescue requests head shots, various poses that show what the dog looks like, and shots that show their individual personality.
These dogs are usually in foster homes and some of the backgrounds leave MUCH to be desired.

I included shots I've taken for critique. I hope it's not too many. I wonder about the color too. I'm not sure if my monitor is right or not.

Thank you in advance for your input.

Loueen


Re: new to forum [Re: Loueen] #23782
06/28/09 12:29 PM
06/28/09 12:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
Loueen,
first of all, welcome. Secondly, congrats on your Rescue work. I do the same for Rotties here in Florida and it's a whole different game when shooting for adoption as opposed to shooting regular "beauty shots".

The shots you included look very nice and I don't see any color issues: the white snow is, indeed, white on my monitor. However, an inexpensive monitor calibration tool plus software would be a good investment.

The only criticism I have is of the headshots which are cropped much too tightly for this particular application. I believe most potential adopters would want to see the earset on a head shot. Plus, if possible, I'd include a profile of the head. Here's what I'd call a classic head shot of a GSD that is owned by a friend. He just stopped by and asked me to take some shots of Zeus who is not a show dog and I took these in my front yard without flash.



As for how to get their attention, it's hard with dogs that have had little or no socialization. Food and toys don't work as well as with dogs that have been brought up from puppyhood playing with toys and getting baited with food. If you can have one of the members of the foster household help in terms of getting their attention, that would be a big help. Other than that, it's the basics: squeakies, toys which you toss and food. When I evaluate a Rottie for adoption, I always carry some Milk Bones and use them to see if the dog is food aggressive and/or passive toward food. If the dog responds to a Milk Bone during the evaluation, I then use it when I'm taking their photos.

Without external lighting and with a camera that does not have great high-ISO performance, you're pretty handicapped. However, most of the shots I take for Rescue are environmental and my regular flash unit works just fine for those. People want to see what the dog looks like and not just how great a photographer you are . Believe me, compared to most of the shots you see from Animal Control, ASPCA and other Rescue Groups, your images will be light years better.

If you have any specific questions, just ask. This is a pretty good group when it comes to sharing ideas and techniques. And continued good luck with GSD Rescue.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: new to forum [Re: Jim Garvie] #23783
06/28/09 12:56 PM
06/28/09 12:56 PM
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Massachusetts
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Loueen Offline OP
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I'm sorry, I didn't want to over do the photos. I do normal head shots of each dog also. I just love the eyes, they are the window to the soul, and do speak about the dog's personality. Some are soft, some look playful, some look mischevious.
Any comment that would improve the photos would be appreciated. I do want to be a good photographer too




Re: new to forum [Re: Loueen] #23784
06/28/09 02:45 PM
06/28/09 02:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Illinois
Peggy Sue Offline
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Illinois
Loueen, welcome! Good work on your good work. Your images are lovely. Your love of the eyes shows through. Hopefully you will pick up some ideas to add to your idea bag when you have a foster dog to shoot.


Peggy Sue
Re: new to forum [Re: Peggy Sue] #23785
06/28/09 06:33 PM
06/28/09 06:33 PM
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Massachusetts
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Loueen Offline OP
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Loueen  Offline OP
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Thank you Any suggestions for improvement will be appreciated.


Loueen
Re: new to forum [Re: Loueen] #23786
06/28/09 08:07 PM
06/28/09 08:07 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
Loueen,
these photos are excellent. Obviously, you are a good photographer. My comments were about the cropping not the quality of the images. And for the purpose they are intended. Close cropping for artistic purposes is fine. For documentation (which Rescue mug shots are) not so good.

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: new to forum [Re: Jim Garvie] #23787
07/02/09 09:24 AM
07/02/09 09:24 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Massachusetts
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Loueen Offline OP
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Loueen  Offline OP
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Massachusetts
Jim, thank you!
Often when I go to foster homes I'm asked to take photos of the family dog with or without family members, and I do this as a courtesy. I'm there anyway, and I appreciate anybody who is willing to open their homes to help save a life.
But recently I've had a couple of indirect requests from people that have seen my photos at rescue events regarding how much I would charge for a photo shoot.
I'm unsure about that. When I do it for free there's no pressure to deliver. I guess I lack confidence in the ability to satisfy a paying customer. I'm not always satisfied with the results I get. Sometimes it's too bright, too cloudy, dog is not cooperative, etc.
I sure would love to do it though If I did, what would you think is reasonable for an amateur to charge? Kind of an odd situation. I have been going to foster homes and photographing dogs for about 4 years, and of course thousands of photos of my own dogs but I'm still an amateur.
I was thinking if I didn't get $50.00 per hour it wouldn't be worth it. I still would have to travel and do some post processing. I usually end up with about 50-75 keepers in a 45 min to 1 hr shoot. It takes awhile to warm up, get to know the dog a little, and for the dog to get comfortable with me. So I guess I average about 1.5 hours.


Loueen
Re: new to forum [Re: Loueen] #23788
07/02/09 10:10 AM
07/02/09 10:10 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Florida
Loueen,
I charge between $50 and $100 per portrait session plus product: prints, calendar, CD, etc. And my product prices produce a reasonable margin for me. On the other hand, I give away my services to a lot to folks who own puppies we've bred or people who foster Rescues for us. So, there's the business side of pet portraits and the "amateur" side as well.

Most of my formal, studio shoots last a little over an hour and my goal is to get 4 or 5 images that truly reflect the personality of the dog or cat I'm shooting. It does take some time for the pet to get comfortable with me and with the studio including strobes so that's included. I usually take over a hundred frames to get those key images and I've found that showing people too many images makes the decision much harder so I cull the choices down to only the really good ones. If they like all 4 or 5, we can offer them a collage which is usually what we end up selling.

While I prefer to shoot dogs -- and especially cats -- in their own environment, and I can bring my studio setup (strobes, backdrops, etc.) there, the mindset of bringing them to the studio actually works better in terms of getting paid and getting them in and out in a reasonable amount of time. For some reason, folks I shoot seem to think if I come to them, they can take as long as they want and I'm coming as a friend rather than a photographer. Going to the studio brings it into the business realm pretty quickly.

I think you have excellent photographic skills and if you want to start charging for your work, I'd suggest you put together a portfolio of your work that you can show folks and a formal, printed price sheet showing folks exactly what they get for their money. I find that the major difference between "amateurs" and "professionals" is the ability to clearly articulate what you will do and what you will charge for what you do. As professionals, we have to ask for the money when we're working. But I'm not always working when I have a camera in my hands .

Good luck,

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: new to forum [Re: Jim Garvie] #23789
07/19/09 12:10 PM
07/19/09 12:10 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Dallas, TX
TeresaBerg Offline
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Dallas, TX
Hi Loueen
I'm new here, too, but I thought I might have some helpful information about pricing. My studio does 60% people and 40% pets. Mostly dogs.

I charge $150 for a studio dog session if there are multiple subjects (either multiple dogs or a dog and a person) $125 if it's just one subject. On location in a client's home or the nearby park, it's $175.

But session fees are often very market specific. I live in a large metropolitan area and I'm actually at the low end compared to my competition. Not sure what's customary in your area. My sessions usually last an hour and I show my clients about 40 proofs. If you show too many they get confused and can't make a decision!

Anyway, there's nothing wrong with shooting for free while your building your portfolio - but I think it's always a good idea to establish a print price and stick to it. I sometimes give away a session, but I NEVER give a print discount. I want my clients to have an established value in their minds when it comes to my prints.

sorry to ramble... I'm getting ready to co-teach a workshop so I have been running through my speeches and had this on the tip of my tongue.
Incidentally, my business started because of my work with rescue!


Teresa

Unleashed | fine are pet photography workshops
unleashed2009.wordpress.com


Re: new to forum [Re: TeresaBerg] #23790
07/19/09 12:37 PM
07/19/09 12:37 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
TN
Julie Offline
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Julie  Offline
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TN
I started out doing A LOT of free stuff. I still have those friends that I test out new stuff on for free. Until you know without a doubt you can deliver the product, in a way you want your name on it, don't charge.

I charge $100 for studio and $150 for location, BUT, I will give gift cards for $50 off sessions. If people are put off by the session fee, I can't get them in the door.

Your camera is not a handicap. You just learn how to use it to its fullest potential. If you want to shoot professional sports, it might be a handicap. If you want it to shoot portraits, there is no reason it should deter you. Lenses mean more than bodies and brands.

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