▪️ An Architect and now a Pet Photographer, how did this happen
I have been practising Architecture for past 22 years. I had the opportunity to work on projects in multiple locations pan India and few countries like USA, Mozambique and Kenya. In 2019, i was diagnosed with an early stage cancer which made me take a sabbatical of 6 months. Midway into my treatment, Scamp, my beagle came into my life. I should mention this though it is not related to the question. Scamp played the role of a therapy dog to the core and helped me deal with the treatments. After my treatments, i went back to work and the lockdown year started. I had an opportunity and time to spend with Scamp and photograph him constantly during the lockdown. That is when i realized that here is something that i really enjoy.
I have been photographing ever since i can remember. My first camera was my dad’s yashica SLR. My photographs are mostly taken on my many holidays . So it is an eclectic mix of wildlife, birds, cityscapes, landscape and architecture. But pet photography was like a breath of fresh air.
After facing a major illness, one tends to start looking at life differently. In the later half of 2020, i decided to quit my corporate job that did not give me much time to pursue any of my interests. I thought being a solopreneur was my way forward to future.
I started practising pet photography on my friend’s and family’s pets. As i gained confidence with practice ,i felt i could take up pet photography professionally. I launched Color of Wings, a photography studio that specializes in customised pet portraits in April 2021
▪️ How different do you photograph pets as compared to your counterparts? / What is unique about you and how different are you from the rest of your competitors
Taking a great photo in any genre of photography isn’t easy. pet photography makes it even more difficult when your subject is not controllable and boisterous.
My number one priority during the shoots is the comfort of the pet. Hence i don’t specify a time limit for the shoot but provide a range. I am partial to photographs taken in natural light either early in morning or late in the afternoon. The general idea in pet photography industry is to take photographs when the pet is tired and not very active. I personally feel i get to capture the real personality during their most active time- ie early morning, late afternoon /evening. I also prefer to take photographs in locations that is frequented by the pet or is familiar to them. This again will help fur babies be themselves and express beautifully in front of the camera.
More than a decade experience of shooting wildlife and birds has made me more aware about little nuances like body language and typical animal behaviours. I use this experience while shooting fur babies.
My background in the creative field has also influenced the way i post process the images. I lean towards composites. A composite is basically a collage of multiple images. The typical result is a dreamlike image full of life and interest. As much as shooting the pets, i enjoy sitting down and editing the images into a world full of color, optimism and fantasy locations. A hidden benefit of composites is that the pets can be photographed in not so great locations like an open terrace and can be transported to a beautiful location while post processing.
The first wall art that i sold was of an adorable cuteness overloaded maltese dog in a pink tutu. I saw her as this little lady who was ready to take on the world and created a composite of super hero wonder woman. So the possibilities with composites are limitless and fun.All this might sound simple, but the creation of a new image using the composite method is a process that can take hours. I believe it is worth it!
▪️ What is your biggest achievement to date being a Pet Entrepreneur?
I believe every little step that i took towards being an solopreneur has been an inspiring achievement. Its only been few months since i started this journey, but every moment and memory with furbabies has filled me with joy. For instance, I was a bit of apprehensive about my first ever meeting with a Rottweiler. But this gentle giant Maxx rolled over within few minutes of meeting me and demanded a belly rub. What a joyful moment!
The joyful moments apart, my aspiration is to be a leading pet photographer irrespective of the geography and support the not so lucky counterparts of our fur babies. As a policy, to book a photo shoot with Color of Wings, a pet parent must necessarily donate directly , a minimum of 10% of the photo shoot value to an animal centric non profit organization of their choice. I consider the first ever donation that was made under this policy, an achievement that made me feel really good.
▪️ What have been your most significant failures and what did you learn from them?
Not so much the failures, but the process of being a pet photographer has taught me many things. Pet photography is very unpredictable. One cannot instruct the pet into a position that makes for a great image unless he or she is very well trained. It requires a mix of discipline, patience, timing, imagination and physical fitness. Pet photography has helped me hone these skills.
▪️ Who do you look toward for advice?
My brother and a close friend of more than 25 years have been my constant support and cheerleaders. I also had the privilege of meeting with fellow pet photographers recently. This meet up proved to be very insightful as well.
Artists like Hiroki Takeda, William Wegman, Dominique Salm,Marc allante , Joel Grimes and their works inspires me and i look towards them for sub conscious advice.
▪️ What characteristics or skills according to you are most important to be a Pet Entrepreneur?
I believe like any other industry, it is very important to understand the customer/ client. Easiest way to do that is to be a pet parent. Also look beyond dogs. Even something like fishes in an aquarium can give immense feeling of love.
▪️ Do you have any best sellers and why do you think they are?
My best sellers are both composite as well as lifestyle images. Pet parents love “ one of a kind”. They love customization. But they also want reality/ lifestyle images. So a healthy mix of both is recipe for the bestseller.
▪️ What message do you want to give out to people who want to start with something in the pet business?
I believe the connection with pet parents is immediate since we share the commonality of having pets in our lives. Its a very personal connection that should be respected and honoured. These values of connection, respect and trust will take us a long way.