What type of photographer is right for you?

There are so many different photographers out there, so how do you know who is the right fit for you?

Looking through a portfolio is only one part of the process. Then it’s time to ask: How did they get these photos? Did they let the pets be themselves? Or did they ask them to act a certain way just for the photo?

Most photographers approach a session in one of four ways, ranging from carefully posed and styled to completely documentary and natural.

Let’s take a close look at each approach, so you can hire a photographer that really gets the style you love!


Overview

Documentary

The pet roams in their usual space, no guidance is given, the photographer strictly documents whatever action they are presented with.

Lifestyle

The pet acts mostly natural but may be guided with a toy, asked to repeat their natural behavior or move to a certain place to capture candid moments in a loosely controlled environment.

Posed

The background, position of the pet and light source is carefully selected and arranged precisely. Props and accessories are often used in posed pictures.

Composite

Each picture is created artificially by combining several photos from different settings into one frame using photo manipulation software like Photoshop.


Documentary

Cat in box black and white

Cat in the box by Maike Armstrong

© chicheri by raquel chicheri on 500px.com

Untitled by raquel chicheri

Mindset

The photographer has no strict plan or shot list going into the session. They let things unfold freely and solely focus on what they are presented with to make imagery unique to the moment.

Environment

The session takes place wherever your pet would be at the date of the session anyway. The photographer follows their regular routine and can include places like the home, the neighborhood park, your campsite, etc.

Guidance & Posing

Your pet won’t receive any guidance from the photographer. The photographer simply observes and documents real life moments.

Light Source

The photographer uses only light that is naturally available. This can be window light, the sun or any light you turn on during the session if it takes place in your home.


Lifestyle

Cute Forest Creature by Alicja Zmysłowska on 500px.com

Cute Forest Creature by Alicja Zmysłowska

Symetry by Iza Łysoń on 500px.com

Symetry by Iza Łysoń

Mindset

The photographer may have a loose shot list or concept of pictures in mind they’d like to create during the session but adjust them according to the moments they are presented with.

Environment

The environment is previously selected and planned for. The session typically takes place in a beautiful landscape, park or home.

Guidance & Posing

The photographer may guide your pet into the best space and use a toy or treats to trigger candid emotion.

Light Source

The photographer usually guides your pet into the best light. If the session takes place in your home, they may turn off artificial light or open blinds to achieve the best look with the available light.


Posed

Sunday Mood by Elke Vogelsang on 500px.com

Sunday Mood by Elke Vogelsang

Autumn Monochrome by Alicja Zmysłowska on 500px.com

Autumn Monochrome by Alicja Zmysłowska

Mindset

The photographer enters the session with a carefully planned concept and works to achieve specific pictures.

Environment

The environment is typically controlled. A posed session often takes place in a studio with a selected backdrop, props and light source.

Guidance & Posing

The photographer poses the model in a certain way or asks them to do a specific action to achieve a look that fits the concept of the final picture.

Light Source

The photographer completely controls the light by either posing the model in a well lit space or using artificial studio light.


Composite

the Architect by Erik Johansson on 500px.com

The Architect by Erik Johansson

Mindset

The photographer enters the session with a carefully planned concept and works to achieve specific pictures that can then be combined into the final composite art piece.

Environment

The environment in composite work is carefully selected to fit the requirements for the concept of the final image. It’s then adjusted after the session using photo manipulation software. Details can be added or removed and many changes can be made after the actual session.

Closing Out by Erik Johansson on 500px.com

Closing Out by Erik Johansson

Guidance & Posing

The photographer poses the model in a certain way or asks them to do a specific action to achieve a look that fits the concept of the final picture.

Light Source

The photographer controls the light during the session – whether that means guiding the model into a space with the light appropriate for the final image or using artificial studio light. After the session the light can be altered using photo manipulation software.


Other factors

Of course there are so many more factors to take into account when deciding between different photographers.

Like

  • the moments they decide to capture,

  • their personality,

  • the atmosphere conveyed in their photos,

  • their toning style,

    and much, much more.

Also keep in mind that photographers rarely fall exactly into one of the four categories. As with any art form, things overlap and can’t always be perfectly categorized.

But this overview of the four most common approaches to a session will be a good starting point to help you determine what direction of photography you prefer, so you can make sure you book the right photographer for you and your pet!


My approach

My approach is quite natural and falls between the documentary and lifestyle category. I do my best to work with the light and moments I’m given naturally but sometimes do like to guide the pet into a better lit space or have you – the pet’s guardian – assist with a toy to get their attention.

Black and white cat playing
Symmetric reflection of orange cat in window

Lastly

I urge you to think about the way you would like to remember your pet. Collect pictures on Pinterest or watch your pet for a week and imagine what kind of photos you would love to see of them on your wall. Then finding the right photographer will be so much easier!


If you found this helpful, please consider sharing it with a friend and pin it for future reference.


I hope you and your furry (or feathery!) companion have a lovely day!

Maike


 
a guide to help you find the right photographer