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Before you leave on your next trip, would you prefer to have your dog picked up in a Ferrari 458, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Bentley, a Porsche, or a Rolls Royce? D Pet Hotels in Hollywood, CA, fetches your pet in style and delivers him to his own hotel room, where he can relax on a queen-sized bed and catch his favorite shows on a flat-screen T.V. Bonnie here again, still filling in for Lori while she’s on maternity leave. It may seem ridiculous the lengths people will go to for their pets these days. But if you like animals, and you like to take photos… it could spell big opportunity for you. After all, professional pet photos now claim their place on the mantle next to the rest of the family. This week and next, we’re going to look at four photo niches that are fun, approachable for beginners, and super-hot right now… starting today with pet photography. Professional pet photographer Michelle Pelberg goes to people’s homes to capture the best of their pets on camera. She loves doing it so much, she feels weird getting paid for it. Read on below to find out how she got started and what you need if you’d like to try it, yourself… INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSIONAL PET PHOTOGRAPHER MICHELLE PELBERG By Bonnie Caton in Portland, Oregon BONNIE: Michelle, I’m interested to hear how you got started in pet photography. Is this something you always planned to do? MICHELLE: Though I certainly always wanted to work with animals, photography wasn’t my original plan. When I was 7, I got my own snake and from then on, I’ve had a particular love for reptiles. For a long time, I wanted to be a herpetologist (studying reptiles and amphibians) but eventually wound up studying zoology for about a year. I decided it wasn’t for me and instead enrolled in a graphic design school with a goal to design the packaging for pet products. That changed when the first “real” photo I took became the cover of a local magazine. From there, I moved to California to attend photography school. There, I quickly developed a reputation as the girl who always brought strange creatures into the studios for my projects. The rest is history. I finally achieved my goal to work with animals. It just took me several paths to get there. BONNIE: What would you say is your favorite part of your job? MICHELLE: I’ve been working as a professional photographer for about four years now, and my favorite part is when owners — or even just people who happen across my site — write to tell me how much they love the photos and how I really capture the personality of my subjects. My goal isn’t just to photograph a Labrador. My goal is to photograph Chester… who happens to be a Labrador. BONNIE: What does someone need to be a good pet photographer? MICHELLE: The top requirement is patience. You’re going into a pet’s home with a bunch of equipment that is foreign to him… and a little scary. Then, you have an owner who is desperate for their pet to do his best trick. Of course, the pet won’t. So, you’re left with a frustrated owner and a confused pet on your hands. If you can keep your cool through this, and help your subject relax and be himself, you’ll get some great shots. BONNIE: Would I need a studio if I wanted to do this? MICHELLE: No, all of my work is done on location. This can be the pet’s home, the home of the owner’s friend or even a park. You don’t need a studio to start doing this, but you do need some of the equipment that comes with a studio. I use professional lights that I take with me and set up in the home. You have to let the location of the shoot be your studio. BONNIE: What are a few tips you’d give to someone who’s interested in selling pet photos? MICHELLE: After I graduated school, it took me about six years to decide that I could do this “for real.” Now, I’d tell myself to start right out of school. There’s no reason to be afraid. And if you’re like me and you’re not a very big fan of approaching strangers or giving public talks, I’d advise taking some speaking classes or maybe joining your local Toastmasters club. In order to network, you need to be good at that kind of thing. BONNIE: Great advice, Michelle. Thank you! [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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