Choosing the right photographer for your needs can be quite the daunting task! There are so many things to consider. I tell all of my potential clients the same thing: Choose the photographer that will best represent what you want out of your session. Every photographer has their own style, their own costs and their own experiences. You can use the following checklist to help make your decision:
1. Create a list of your favorite photographers after looking at their online portfolio.
In today's day and age, almost every professional photographer will have some sort of online presence. Check out their work and stick with the ones you love. Choose a style you love and find photographers that match that (portrait (posed) vs documentary (candid) vs fine art (candid but artistic). Do you want more family shots? Then choosing a pet photographer that also specializes in people might be best. Do you only really care about the photos of Duke? Then a solely pet photographer is probably the way to go.
2. Meet all the photographers whose porfolio's you love.
It is important to set a meeting before booking to make sure you all "click". Don't waste your time if you don't love their work. Make sure you have great chemistry, and that there is no awkwardness or uneasiness. Consider your pets personality. Does the photographer have the experience to work with your pets type of personality? If the answer is maybe or no, then they may not capture your pets personality.
3. Consider value when comparing quotes.
Remember: You get what you pay for. In general, better photographers cost more money. How about those cut-rate ones? Well, they're cheap for a reason. Take a look at what is included in the price they quote you and consider it's value to you. Compare packages. Find out how much time is given to the session. Think about WHY you want the photo session of your pet. What do you want to do with the photos? Choose a photographer that specializes in producing that product. If you just want fun photos of your dog or cat for social media and viewing on your phone, then that "shoot and burn" photographer may be what is best for you. If you want the photography to hang in your home alongside your other art, you should think about investing more.
4. Do your homework. Or at the very least, do a google search to see if anyone has had any major complaints with your potential hire. Carefully review their websites and blogs. Check out their facebook, instagram and twitter pages. Is client feedback positive?
You are probably thinking "What the heck Amanda, you ARE a professional photographer" It is true! I have also heard every single reason why someone may not want to use the services of a professional photographer for their pet. Do these sound familiar:
1. My dog is too hyper/too young/has no training/hates the camera
This is my favourite excuse. Why? Because I LOVE hyper, crazy, ridiculously adorable dogs. The more energy they have, the more amazing their session will be...their personality will SHINE! In our pre-session consultation, we will chat about my process, how I get the photo, what motivates your pet the most (food, squeek toy etc) and make a plan of action. At the end of the day, these sessions are supposed to be fun, and how much more fun can you have then watching a dog running around in all its glorious happiness?
2. It is too expensive
I understand. I really do. This is why I offer payment plans! In our pre-session consultation (which is FREE!), we will chat about what you wish to get out of the session (digitals, prints, wall art) and an estimate of the total cost. We can work within your budget and if you decide to blow the budget out the window to get what you really want, I have a payment option for you:)
When you order through Prancing Paws for your prints, you are getting back a product that you literally can not buy anywhere else. We use a professionals only lab. This means that the product you are getting, is high quality and will last your family forever. Nothing is worse then spending your hard earned money on a product just to have it fall apart a month later.
3. I have a smartphone, I take my own photos
I have always said, the best camera is the one you have on you. Smart phones have come leaps and bounds in the last few years. If all you want to be able to do is share photos on your social media, then your phone will be awesome! I use mine all the time.
When you hire a professional photographer, you are not only hiring an expensive camera. You are hiring a person who knows how to use it to. You are hiring someone who can set up a shot perfectly. You are making memories.
I hear all the time from my clients, how they wish they printed more of their photos and had them in albums like they used to. I am the same way. When my dog EmJay passed away, I tried to make a photobook of all my saved up pictures of her. Almost every photo taken on my phone was considered "too low quality" to print. So they sit, in all their blurry glory on a harddrive.
Don't regret NOT having those beautiful high quality memories. I offer various album options - they are a great option to collect your entire session in one spot!
4. My dog/cat is still young and healthy
Oh gosh wouldn't the world be amazing if every animal lived to be 75 years old! If your childhood dog lived its entire life with you! I lost EmJay at only 8 years old. It happens. Accidents happen. Illnesses happen. So why not get that perfect photo now before it might be too late. If you feel the need 5 years later to do it again, then by all means I'll be happy to work with you a second time!
Feel free to send me a message through my contact page. I will gladly chat with you and hopefully ease your mind of some of the reasons preventing you from making the leap into a session.
I don't think there could possibly be another word to describe 2017 for Prancing Paws. There have been so many amazing sessions, events and moments this year that I had the most ridiculous time trying to narrow everything down for my "favourites" list.
I photographed 600+ pets this year, helped 15 owners make a final lasting memory with their pet, photographed 5 babies, and 27 families. As a prancing paws family, we raised approx $2,000 for charity (you are all amazing).
In the world of firsts, I was able to photograph horses, goats, chickens, and ducks. I had my first "commercial" photo shoot. I traveled North in to and photographed Kap Kig Iwan Park which I now consider one of the most beautiful places I have been to.
I did sessions in Sudbury, Barrie, Parrysound, Kirkland Lake and Englehart and had one family come all the way from Ottawa for photos!
I took on a personal project which ended up being one of the highlights of my year - "Dog Breeds Around the World". It was an eye opening experience to learn so much about all these breeds right here in North Bay!
Perhaps one of my favourite moments of 2017 was the adoption of miss Bonnie. Our little Texan hurricane rescued from the throws of Hurricane Harvey. Expect to see her a lot at the farmers market this summer!
Each and every person that has liked my facebook page, shared a post, come out for an event, hired me for a session or just stopped by my booth at an event and said hello, I thank you. I have met so many amazing and wonderful people and pets this year that I don't know how 2018 could possibly be better then 2017...but it is already gearing up to be!
I thought when I wrote this blog, I would choose my top 12 photos of 2017...when I had it narrowed down to 130 of my favourite photos, I realized that wasn't going to work. Each of the photo's below is a favourite. It may not be technically the best, but something about it made me love it more then the rest.
I hope you enjoy looking back even just a little bit as much as I did. I hope to see you all in 2018:)
As Prancing Paws Pet Photography continues to grow (thank you to all my wonderful past, present and future clients!), I find myself reflecting.
Prancing Paws was born out of my love for my little mixed border collie, EmJay, and I strive for my business to reflect this love in the way I photograph. I take portraits that capture the personality of the pet and the bond between pet and owner and focus less on "the perfect" portrait.
EmJay, or "miss prancy prancerson" or "happy feet" or "drunken sailor" was my heart dog. I love all of my animals and I have very different relationships with every one of them. EmJay was special though. She was a fighter. She taught me about perseverance, she brought me together with one of my closest friends (shout out to Cari and Muddog Creek Candles!) and she taught me daily about not sweating the small stuff.
You must be thinking by now, how does one dog do all that? Well, EmJay was special. She was born at All Heart Pet Rescue in Powassan. She lost her mom and her litter mates to suspected parvovirus. At 7 weeks, her and her sister were brought in to foster care by my good friend Cari. Of course, Em worked her charm and Cari fell in love and adopted her. Now, EmJay was absolutely insane as a puppy. Energy that literally had no end. At around 8 months old, it became clear that EmJay required a home where someone was around more often (Cari worked 12 hours shifts, and even though she had people coming by every few hours to walk and play with EmJay, she needed more). I was in a transition period, having just broken up with an ex and agreed to take on the challenge that was EmJay...and a challenge she was. I committed to her full heartedly - but man...kudos to collie owners cause I could not do that again! We rollerbladed together for 4 hours every day, just to keep her calm enough to not destroy the house and get in a little bit of training - I had a future agility super star on my hands!
At about 1.5 years old, EmJay had to have minor surgery to remove a lump (that turned out to be a benign tumor). We don't know if the anesthetic triggered what we suspect now to be an Autoimmune disease or not, but the timing would suggest it did. The surgery itself went great. But afterwards, I noticed a reluctance to go on our long walks. I thought it was that she didn't like the new harness (since the lump had been on her neck). But it become clear fairly quick that something wasn't right. She would "collapse" when we went to far. Then the seizures started. These weren't a "typical" seizure. She was awake and very aware as to what was happening. Then the cataracts and lipid spots in her eyes formed. She was tested for literally everything under the sun. Working at a vet clinic has its advantages, I am so thankful that money was never a determining factor in what testing or treatment we wanted to try. Slowly, she started to have balance problems...she would "high step" when she walked and would fall over whenever she stopped moving - so she adjusted..and learned to prance. She was never standing still. The neurologist had no idea what was going on, but he was certain of two things: there was nothing they could do, and that she wouldn't live a very long life.
7 years. She lived 7 years past the onset of symptoms. 6 years longer then the neurologist thought she would. She ran, she swam, she made friends, she loved life. Every. Single. Moment. There were many tears on my end, many stressful, sleepless nights. But never Em. She chased soccer balls, she ate like food was never going to be available again, she did her best to "fetch". She would fall all the time, then get right back up and continue what she was doing. She never let her disability affect her life.
Ultimately, it was the seizures that took her from this earth. They became too frequent and were lasting too long. In true EmJay spirit, she had a smile on her face until the moment she peacefully left this earth. I always thought we had this amazing bond because she needed me. She needed me for meds, to act as her eyes and to be her advocate. But once she was gone, the truth was, I needed her a lot more then she ever needed me.
So why do I tell you this story? Because the bond I had with this dog, was the reason I started my business. I wanted to offer people an affordable way to have professional, high resolution, pictures of their dogs. EmJay was an expensive "free to good home"dog (in fact, I was pretty much paid to take her lol) and I understand that stuff happens. So I donate a lot of my photo income to shelters and rescues. With a dream that one day, I will make enough money to offer a program for people that need help with their vet bills. I love what I do, and I love what my business stands for. Most of all, I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to love a crazy, carefree, beautiful rescued collie who stole my heart and changed me forever.
Fireworks. They wreak havoc on my dogs nerves but man they certainly are a spectacular sight to see. I am so proud to live in a small community that takes such pride in all of their events. Last night, I witnessed the most beautiful thing. Literally, thousands of people flocked on to the shoreline of Callander Bay to watch a movie and the firework show. I know I was not alone in thinking the crowds wouldn't be as big, since they weren't being held on Canada Day, but man was I wrong!
Last year, I was stuck behind a light pole. Not a very great spot to be in for picture taking! So this year, we arrived early, grabbed a quiet spot on the beach and sat back to watch the show.
This was my first attempt at taking photos of the fireworks. I may have a new love!
I was given an amazing opportunity to portfolio build this week. I was speaking to a good client of mine about wanting to expand my portfolio to include some horses - but that I was having trouble finding someone with a horse to commit to some photos....well low and behold...she has a horse! Not only that but, being awesome that she is, she worked it out with the stable owner to have me come out and wander around the stable to take photos!
What an eye opening experience for me. I have worked with small animals for years. What a heart stopping, mind blowing experience to be so close to such majestic creatures. It was a little nerve wrecking for sure (although I was promised, all the horses were friendly!).
I was pleasantly surprised to find this piece of heaven, within city limits. Please take a moment to check out their website as a thank you for allowing me this great opportunity. www.sunnydalestables.ca
"Knowing that he could hurt you in an instant, but trusting that he never will"
Wow! There are literally no other words to describe the beauty of Kap Kig Iwan Park. Located just minutes from the town Englehart, this park is a hidden gem, most well known by the locals. There are kilometers of maintained hiking trails leading to multiple water falls, rapids and untouched forest. Although some parts of the trails have been closed since the park was taken over by the city of Englehart, the beauty of the park has not been lost. Recently, it has been re-opened for overnight camping. The sites are small and not overly private but in my humble opinion, you don't stay at a park as beautiful as kap kig iwan for the campsites..it is all about the hiking, fishing, and scenery.
Not to forget the reason I was at the park at all...I completed 4 photo shoots with beautiful backgrounds! Enjoy the nature and the dogs!
Know of any other local "secret" gems in your area? Sound off in the comments!
Rapids at Kap Kig Iwan Park
Lower Falls, Kap Kig Iwan Park
Adopt. If you can't adopt,
Foster. If you can't foster,
Sponsor. If you can't sponsor,
Volunteer. If you can't volunteer,
Donate. If you can't donate,
Rescue is near and dear to me. Anyone who knows me, knows that helping homeless animals is an integral part of my personality. I have been a foster home for 10+ years for local and not so local rescues. For overnight visits to year long stays. I am a transport driver, ensuring animals make it from high kill shelters to no/low kill rescues. I donate my time and my extra (however little it may be) resources to helping these animals. I don't say all this to toot my own horn, I say this because it is an integral part of my business model. I will never be rich as a photographer, because my goal is to help as many animals as I can using whatever platform I can. The other side of my business, is to ensure that EVERY pet owner can have a professional photo of their pet in their home.
One of the the ways I help local rescues is to offer my photography services free of charge for animals up for adoption, either in a shelter or in a foster home. I have seen it time after time...a great photo helps get an animal adopted. A potential adopter, is drawn to the eyes and the personality of the pet they are seeing first...long before they visit it.
Today's shoot was done at Pet Smart in North Bay. These four cats are available through Pet Save. Pet Save is a No Kill shelter/foster based rescue in Sudbury. They offer countless homeless pets a second leash on life. Education is a huge part of their program. Even if you are not looking for a cat (or dog) at this time, please consider donating or at the very least checking out this rescue.
Move your cursor over the picture to learn a little about each of these beauties up for adoption!
PollyPolly is an 8 week old tuxedo kitten. She loves to play and snuggle.
TrufflesTruffles is an absolute sweet heart. Approximately 8 months old, he has lost part of his ear to frostbite. Was fostered with puppies!
LolaThis 1.5 year old beauty of a girl is an absolute gem. She is more of a curl up on your lap for scratches then a run around and play kind of girl.
CedricThis 1 year old handsome man is ridiculously playful....he will chase toys and fly around the house all day long!
This family! Wow! I first met this lovely family at our Easter Bunny Fundraiser a few weeks back. When it came to sharing Summer and Cobalt's pictures they were inspiring! So, I was thrilled when they came out on top and won our free session! We planned our session and as mother nature often likes to do...she poured rain down on us! But when one door closes, another opens and we were blessed with a beautiful overcast day for our session. It was cold as a Northern Ontario spring often is but we endured and a had a great day!
Those who know me, know I have a not-so secret love of what I like to call the "smart" breeds - border collies, german shepherds and australian shepherds....which made this session, kind of a dream! :)
A beautiful soul, taken away entirely to soon. I am humbled and blessed to be able to capture these beautiful moments with pets and their humans. Fly free miss Pippi, till we all meet again at the rainbow bridge. XO
"Grief is the price we pay for love" ~Queen Elizabeth II