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Lights, camera, wag

Professionals are offering outdoor, indoor or studio shoots; props or nature settings; bibs, bowties or tiaras – so pet parents can capture the perfect moment with their dogs and cats

Cherylann Mollan

Birthday parties, holidays, family get-togethers — professional photographers are capturing them all, except now the subjects are not the people, but their pets.

As pet parents get more indulgent — many treating their dogs and cats as they would their children — pet photography has grown into a sub-category on its own, with professionals specialising in putting the animals at their ease, and offering options of outdoor, indoor or studio shoots; props or nature settings; bibs, bowties or tiaras. As long as you’re willing to pay between `5,000 and `25,000, depending on the duration of the shoot and number of prints.

Anubhuti Dayal, 37, a content creator from Hyderabad, hired a pet photographer for her own maternity shoot last year. “As a pet mom, I wanted my Labrador, Shelby, to be part of this life event. So I picked someone who was comfortable with dogs to plan the shoot,” she says. This year, she did it again when her son turned one.

For both shoots, she chose founder of Pawparazzi and a pet parent herself, Prathima Pingali, 23. “I started this business after I saw how the pictures I had taken of our Labrador, Pax, were helping my mom, dad and brother grieve after his demise,” says Pingali.

She gave up her mainstream photography career for one focused on photographing pets. “In a good month, I get about six gigs. People want professionally captured images that encapsulate their pet’s personality or immortalise a special moment,” she says.

THE HOMEWORK

It’s not all fun and games. Aakanksha Tavag, 34, who set up Pet Photographer in 2014, says she took canine behaviour classes to prepare herself. “It takes a special skillset to be a pet photographer. You have to be able to understand and handle pets.”

Some are fearful of the camera since it obscures a person’s eyes. “I get pets to trust me by spending about an hour with them prior to the shoot. Before I meet them, I have an in-depth conversation with pet parents about age, temperament, likes, dislikes, energy level. During one shoot, I had to photograph 13 husky puppies and three adults. We had to factor in time to tire the puppies out so that they would sit still. The shoot alone took four hours.”

There are some shortcuts. Founder of Paws for a Picture, Ashok Chintala, 32, says he holds the pet’s favourite treat over his camera to get them to look at it.

One problem he wasn’t prepared for was the opposition from his own two doggies. “I’ve had to rush and change my clothes as soon as I get home so that Luffy and Jazz don’t get miffed smelling the other dogs on me,” he says, laughing.

Mumbai-based Bhavesh Karia, 52, who set up Pawtraits a year ago, says its often the pet parents that are more trouble than the pets. “Having half a dozen relatives gush every time the pet moves is disturbing for me and the pet,” he says, chuckling. “I’ve had to usher the most gregarious ones out of the room for both our sakes.”

“My husband and I don’t have human children. Our kids are our German Shepherd, Fury, and our Rottweiler, Diana. My siblings have framed photos with their human children, and I was tempted to have some with mine too,” says Srimoyee Geetanand, 42, a businesswoman who hired Chintala for a Mother’s Day shoot with her pets.

(HT Media)

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