If you want to make money with your dog photography a good place to start is dog shows. Yep, rather than wait for the dog owners to come to you and request a photo of their dog you should take the bull by the horns and go to the dog owners and persuade them to use you to take photos of their dogs, and what better place than the captive audience of a dog show?
Before you go thinking you are going to rake in the cash on the first attempt there are a few important things you need to consider, and the first of these is the size of the dog show.
The temptation is to find the biggest dog show in the area, after all that’s where the largest pool of potential dog owners and dog enthusiasts is going to be, however this is not where you should start. Big dog shows attract professional show dogs, professional dog handlers and professional breeders and this is not the market for you. The dog owners and breeders will have several photos of their prize winning dogs and they will use established and professional photographers for future photos of their dogs. In a nutshell, there is no way you will ever sell a photo of one of the top dogs to its owners even if you do get a fantastic picture of their dog. It just won’t happen. If you have an interest in the top dogs then, by all means, go to the big shows and take your camera to get photos for personal use. If you want to make some money however, you are best to avoid these large shows.
If you want to make money with your photography at dog shows you need to go to the smaller dog shows. You know the type, the ones held at village fetes and the like where any dog can enter for fun. The types of dog owners at these events are likely to have photographs of their dog, after all dog owners have some photos of their pets, but these photos are likely to be snap shots rather than professional photos, and this is where you can showcase your skills and make some money. All dog owners would love a professional looking photo of their dog, provided the price is right of course.
One of the key things I find at small dog shows is to pricing. I, like every other photographer, want to get top dollar for my photos however there are times when it is best to have a “stack ‘em high sell ‘em cheap” policy whereby you sell a print for a few bucks.
Whenever I go to the smaller dog shows the only thing I sell are prints, and I sell them cheap. I make sure I cover the costs of ink and paper and I also ensure I make a profit, but I don’t try and make a super profit. In my opinion I prefer to sell, say 50 items at 15 bucks rather than 10 items at 30 bucks. If you pitch the photos at a price that won’t instantly put someone off or make them say “I’ll think about it” you will end up selling far more. You need to get people to part with their money quickly without a second thought and at 15 bucks I find this happens.
I only print photos in one size and that is 7 x 5, and this is to keep costs down. I don’t bother offering different sizes of print, I don’t offer borders and I don’t offer frames since of these would require buying and carrying stock, and I don’t want to get involved with all that carry on. I basically sell the print and it is up to the dog owner to sort out their own frames and the like. This system works well for me and whilst I don’t make huge amounts of money (it doesn’t pay well enough to do it full time) I do make more than pocket change.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.