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Thread: Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

  1. #1
    Brindles's Avatar
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    Rachel

    Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

    Hello, everyone! I'm in need of some advice.

    I'm a pet photographer, and I've been asked to come to a dog event next month. They are giving me a space with a pretty, natural backdrop, and allowing me two tables. I had thought of framing and bringing several larger prints (11x14 and up) for display.

    I plan to offer a mini-session to the attendees for a price. The problem is, I have no idea what to charge. My standard session is $150 for 1-2 hours, and the entry fee to the event is $10. This is an upscale facility that typically attracts upscale clientele, but this is the event's first year, so I can't be 100% sure that's the case this time.

    How would you handle the mini-session? Would you base it on time? If so, how much? The idea in my head was 5-10 solid shots that I could provide to the client once fully retouched.

    I am open to all ideas you may have!

    Thank you in advance for sharing your expertise.
    -Rachel

  2. #2
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Richard

    Re: Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

    Rachel,

    Could you do a google search on the prices local photographers charge for dog portraits.

    Normally, at the dog shows that I've attended vendors actually charge a bit less for their products than those products cost at established brick and mortar businesses. Dog show attendees kind of expect this type of discount. In fact, we often wait for a dog show event to purchase our grooming supplies.

    I am considering doing dog portrits for the annual American Maltese Association Specialty which will be held in San Diego next year. Only, in my case, I would donate profits to the American Maltese Rescue fund.

    The last portrait photographer I saw at a dog show was really well equipped. He was using an expandable tent-like affair with a simple lighting setup and various backgrounds as well as various props like pillows, etc. He shot tethered so that his clients could view the images right on his laptop and then he printed them using an ink jet printer.

    With a standardized lighting setup in a standardized shooting environment, post processing was held to a minimum, usually just a bit of two phase sharpening.

    A neat technique when shooting dogs is to use a show lead which is a rather narrow lead and have the leads in colors which will blend into the background. This reduces removing the leads in post processing to a minimum. Backgrounds shoud be appropriate for the color of the dogs you are shooting. It is lucky for a photographer to be at a breed specialty show since he will often only need to deal with a few different colors or, in the case of Maltese, a single solor: white.

    Backgrounds for small dogs can be made from Velour fabric. Vellux blankets can be quite effective when used as backgrounds for larger dogs. I have a Vellux blanket (I got mine from J.C. Penny) in black which really sucks up the light. I have to use a hair remover (masking tape) occasionally beacause it will attract hair from dogs who shed.

    Another hint is to buy several plastic squeakers (designed to be sewn into stuffed toys) from a craft store like Michael's. Hold one of the squeakers between your teeth and squeeze to make noise. The noise will come directly from your camera area and the dog will usually look right at you. Most often the dog will have a cute expression on his face.

    Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

    Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

    Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

    One final thing is catch lights. If the lighting is set up correctly there will be catchlights in the dogs eyes which give them a sense of alertness. However, if you don't have a catch light simply import one using the clone tool in photoshop. I copy a light area with a very small circle and clone it into each eye. It takes some practice to do this but, it really works.

    BTW: It is often better to have the dog's owner stand behind you and have someone else hold the lead from behind the background. The dog will always look for its owner.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 10th July 2011 at 09:31 PM.

  3. #3
    Brindles's Avatar
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    Re: Mini-Photoshoots? How much to charge?

    A very helpful post once, again, Richard! Thank you for taking the time to share.

    I'll agree that the photographer you mentioned was well equipped! Sounds like a very good setup. The problem is that I'm not a portrait/studio photographer; I don't have the materials to set one up, nor can I afford them right now. I don't do typical posed shots because I prefer to have the dog interacting with me while I shoot. Typically I'll have a treat in my hand and/or a rabbit call in my mouth! I try to shoot everything with available, natural light. At most, I'll bounce a speedlight off the ceiling or use it as a slave with a softbox. Since this event is outdoors, I don't expect to have to use additional light.

    I thought of using the opportunity strictly for advertising, but I'm not sure that would be quite as beneficial. I'd rather play up the "exclusive special" and offer a mini-shoot - something I wouldn't do anywhere other than a dog event. I just have no idea what to charge for it. $10? $15? $20? I don't want to cause sticker shock, but I don't want to sell myself short.

    I will certainly look into the Vellux blankets, though. Sounds like it would be worth picking up. Excellent tip about the show leads and having the owner stand behind me. I'll have to find out where I can pick up a show lead around here somewhere.

    Thank you again, Richard!

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