The 10 Questions Your Pet Photographer Wants You to Ask During Your Consultation

For many, booking a pet photography session is an entirely new experience. You may be feeling unsure of what to expect, confused about how to choose a pet photographer, curious about the potential investment, and unclear on how you’d like to enjoy your images following your session.

First, let me (and like, every other pet photographer) assure you that these feelings are totally normal. That’s why all this month, I’m joining fellow dog ‘togs from around the world to give you a closer look into a pet photography experience. Throughout this four-part series, I’ll be sharing how to get the most out of your pet photography session, starting with the 10 questions your pet photographer wants you to ask during the consultation.

What is a Pre-Session Consultation?

Pre-session consultations happen just as the name suggests: prior to your session. They’re your opportunity to meet with your photographer, ask questions, and establish expectations for your session. Your photographer may use this time to finalize the details of your session, address wardrobe or location options, review product offerings and pricing, and get to know the two- and four-legged subjects who will be joining in so everyone feels confident and comfortable in front of the camera.

Pre-session consultations can be held in person in your photographer’s studio, in your home, at a mutual location, on the phone, or virtually via Zoom or other video chat apps.

The Value in a Pet Photography Pre-Session Consultation

According to a June 3, 2021 article from Professional Photographers of America (PPA), “Pre-session consultations are useful regardless of your specialty, but they’re especially important for assignments that require close interactions with your subjects, such as weddings, portraits, commercial, and editorial projects. Learning about your client’s personality and expectations lay the foundation for a successful professional relationship and investing a little time into talking to them before your session together can have huge rewards both at the photo shoot and in the future.”

Committing time and energy to a pre-session consultation helps ensure that you have the best client experience throughout the entire process and eliminates the overwhelm and uncertainty that can accompany investing in a professional photography session for the first time.

iPhone with pre-consultation calendar next to laptop keyboard

Asking questions opens up a conversation that will get everyone on the same page and is mutually beneficial to uncovering your needs, understanding your goals, and exceeding your expectations For pet photographers, your pre-session consultation is especially important because its also our chance to get to know you and your pet: everything from what gets their tail-wagging and the very things that drive them bonkers to what you love most about them and how, together, we can create exceptional images and an unforgettable experience.

10 Questions to Ask Your Pet Photographer During the Consultation

Whether you’re unaware of what to even ask or you have a growing legal pad list of questions and concerns, preparing for your consultation with the appropriate questions will promise you the most out of your meeting. Here are 10 questions to ask your pet photographer during the consultation and what to listen for.

Do you specialize in pets only?

Listen for:

  • Clear confirmation that a photographer can not only include pets in your portraits but that she understands how to work with animals.
  • Confidence in capturing the unique human-dog connection.
  • Knowledge of animal body language.
  • The gear, tricks, and techniques used to help capture expression-filled, beautiful pet portraits.
  • Patience, creativity, and a go-with-the-flow approach.

What is your process, or how are you different than other photographers?

Listen for:

  • The “why” or her story behind what she does.
  • Explanations of retainers or session fees.
  • Potential additional charges for including people or additional pets.
  • An overview of the typical approach to a session.
  • Her approach to post-processing.
  • A photography timeline (how soon to book, when to schedule, when final images will be ready, etc).
  • What is required from you to book?
  • An openness to answer your specific questions.
  • Negative talk or bashing of other photographers or their processes.

I’m concerned about X, Y, and Z; how do you handle that?

Listen for:

  • A genuine interest in addressing your concerns.
  • Actual examples of past clients with similar concerns who have had successful sessions.
  • Broad assurance and seemingly far-fetched promises that raise red flags.

How do you handle reactive, shy, or nervous dogs?

Listen for:

  • Success stories in working with similar dogs or in similar situations.
  • The prioritization of safety over portraits.
  • Locations best suited for your dog’s personality and individual needs.
  • Honesty in whether this experience is the best fit for your dog.

Can I or my family join in?

Listen for:

  • Any caveats about including people.
  • Additional charges for including humans.
  • Limitations or conditions related to age restrictions of children.

Where do most clients hold their sessions?

Listen for:

  • Suggestions tailored to your desired look and/or feel of your session.
  • Availability of a location guide with pet-friendly options to choose from.
  • Potential travel fees or additional fees for things like photography permits, rental fees, etc.
  • The availability of in-home or backyard sessions.

What if it rains or my dog falls ill on my session day?

Listen for:

  • When decisions to postpone will be made in the event of inclement weather.
  • The timeframe in which you can reschedule.
  • Any rescheduling or cancellation fees.
  • Availability in the event that your pet requires a Rainbow Session.

What types of products do you offer?

Listen for:

  • What is included–and not included–with any session retainer(s) or fee(s).
  • How many images you can expect to choose from.
  • Options that align with your values, needs, and budget.
  • Any guarantees that come with these products.

How do most clients enjoy their images after their session?

Listen for:

  • Questions to help her understand your specific portrait needs.
  • Guidance in recommending the best finish or size for displaying your portraits.
  • An ability to show room mock-ups or album proofs to ensure your products are exactly what you envision.

What is the average amount that clients invest following their session?

Listen for:

  • The value of investing in her service that goes beyond merely prices.
  • A range you can expect to spend, even if she is unable to provide exact specifics during your consultation.
  • Any minimum order requirements.
  • Avoidance in discussing prices.
  • Confusing or unclear prices.
  • Bait-and-switch tactics.
  • Availability of payment plans and their terms and conditions.

If these questions have your wheels turning, I’d love to connect with you during your complimentary, no-obligation consultation call. Choose your adventure below to begin.

This post is a part of the Content Marketing for Pet Photographers blog circle and the first of a four-part series. To see what the next pawesome photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “Your Inquiry and Consultation,” check out Terri of Terri J Photography in Toronto, who explains what to expect when you inquire about a dog photography session. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here.

16 thoughts on “The 10 Questions Your Pet Photographer Wants You to Ask During Your Consultation

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you, Angela! There is so much that goes into a great pet photography consultation, but knowing the right questions to ask and concerns to address helps it all run smoothly for both client and photographer!

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks, Darlene! I know how much hesitation can be in placing that first inquiry call, but I want Pittsburgh pet parents to know they’ve got nothing to be afraid of!

  1. Linda Perdue says:

    Wow – this is a lot of information to think about! I am saving your blog post to look at it in more detail and determine where I might want to make improvements on my side! Thank you for all this information.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      You’re welcome, Linda! Don’t let it overwhelm you; instead, think of it as a way to listen better and guide your clients. When you truly listen to what your clients are saying–even not on a surface level–your consultation conversation will naturally flow and help you address any questions or concerns they have, often before they even come up!

  2. Jo says:

    You write so eloquently Jessica. This post was so informative and so many considerations there so the client is fully aware when embarking on their pet photography experience.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thanks, Jo! My major in college was English Studies so, of course, I love to write!

      You are correct in a pet photography session being an investment of time and money, so it’s key to be open and upfront about what your clients can expect so that they can make the most informed and best decision for them.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you, you’re so welcome! Professional photography of any kind is often uncharted territory so guiding potential clients with what to ask and listen for will really benefit them in choosing the right photographer for them.

    • Bark & Gold Photography says:

      Thank you! Knowing how to keep your art looking spectacular is a very important component of enjoying it for many, many years!

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