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TollerTails Learns About Pet Photography with Donna Banks

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog named Shankly photographed by Donna Banks
Shankly, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (photo credit: Donna Banks)

You’ve got the cutest dog in the world, and you want to share it. But every time you take your perfect pooch’s picture, it doesn’t do them justice. So you decide to hire a pet photographer. But can you expect from a pet photographer? got to talking with Donna Banks, Canadian pet photographer and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever owner about what it takes to become a pet photographer, tips on how to hire a pet photographer and tips for taking your pet .

Henry & Hedy Toller Tails (HHTT): Hello Donna and thank you for talking with us about pet photography.

Donna Banks, pet photographer (DB): Hi Henry and Hedy. Happy to talk about pet photography and give readers some insight into the world of pet photography.

HHTT: What made you decide to become a pet photographer?

DB: I have been dabbling in photography since I was a teenager, many moons ago, but I find photographing animals or pets so much more enjoyable and rewarding.

HHTT: What kind of training did you have, or do you need to have to become a professional pet photographer?

DB: Growing up, my father was a photographer, and I learned about photography from him and also from trial and error. Recently, I took a photography night course through Fleming College and am currently taking a Recognition of Achievement Photography course through Durham College.

A focused Shankly who is Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog walking  (photo credit: Donna Banks)
A focused Shankly, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (photo credit: Donna Banks)

One thing that helps pet photographers is continuous practice. Just like when your dog was learning to sit and stay.

It takes practice. All that practice helps to improve your pet photography skills.

As a pet photographer, you get rewarded with nice photos for the pet parents. Seeing them beaming with joy is a bonus.

HHTT: Do you need fancy equipment?

DB: Although the cameras in cell phones are fantastic and take great photos, sometimes better equipment is needed, like big lights and flashes to help bring out the sparkle in the pet's eyes.

Shankly a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever dog in action having caught a ball while running (photo credit: Donna Banks)
Shankly in action. (photo credit: Donna Banks)

A digital camera with a different size lens helps in taking photos up close or from far away, either when the pet is sitting still or running around.

It helps get those nice action shots.

HHTT: What’s in your pet photography tool kit when you go meet a new pet to photograph?

DB: I will always make sure that I have fully charged batteries, all my lenses, a kit to clean my lenses and my digital camera. But as a pet photographer you always have to be prepared for the weather and have clothing that it won’t matter if you get dirty. Sometimes I have treats and a toy. Also, I always have water.

However, it is much better if the pet parent brings the dog or pet’s favourite toy or treat, because there are animals that may have food allergies or may find your toy is not "fun" enough. This helps in keeping the pet's attention and focus.

HHTTT: What advice would you give to people who want to get into pet photography?

DB: Don't be afraid to try it. Seek out photography courses and other photographers for advice.

Also, find your own style to try and stand out. Try not to compare yourself to other photographers you see on social media and think you're not good enough. You are. It just takes lots of practice and a willingness to learn by trial and error.

HHTT: Why or when should a person hire a pet photographer?

DB: A person doesn't have to hire a pet photographer if they don't want to, but sometimes, having that extra special photo, just might be the one to treasure forever.

Some people only have a cell phone, which may not be able to help capture those special moments, of either puppy-hood, senior-hood and anything in between. So, a pet photographer will be able to help with that.

HHTT: When it comes to pet owners taking their own pictures for fun, what advice would you give them?

DB: Have fun with it, and create your own memories.

However, if you want to try and take a bit more time with taking the photos, always keep in mind:

  • The lighting (bright sun, shadows),

  • What's in the background? Sometimes that can draw attention away from the pet.

  • Getting down on your pet’s level can change the look of the photo.

  • Try different things and see what works and what doesn't. With digital photography, you can delete it, keep it or look at it and think about how you could have taken that photo differently.

Main thing is to have fun with your pet. You’re creating and capturing memories with them.

HHTT: Thanks

DB: Thanks so much for the interview!

Majestic Shankly the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Dog posing in a field of dandelions (photo credit: Donna Banks)
Majestic Shankly posing among the dandelions (photo credit: Donna Banks)


Please note: Neither Hedy, Henry nor their humans have received any treats or remuneration, sponsorship or services in relation to this article. As always, our Toller Tails will identify on its posts, including Straight from the Snout™ posts, if a product or service being recommended and/or discussed is a sponsored product/service, or if there has been remuneration of any type.

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