According to a 2012 American Pet Products Association Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 million homes. No bones about it, this country has gone to the dogs and pet photography has become big business. Pets are living longer than ever, and many of us consider our dogs and cats beloved family members worthy of that picture perfect portrait.
Keep in mind, however, that embarking (no pun intended) on a career in pet photography is not for everyone. The market is saturated with photographers and the profession will test your skills as an artist, communicator and business owner. Fortunately, my friend Stephanie Madeline, Owner of Chase & Snap Pet Photography, has done well among the pack and is now donating some time to help animal rescue charities like Project Animal Worldwide and the Monmouth County SPCA to raise funds for their animal rescue and education initiatives.
Inspired by her father who loved photography, she has enjoyed snapping pics since she was a young child. Although she took photography courses throughout high school and college, she graduated with a degree in Economics and became an accountant. In 2009, like many people hit hard by the economy, she was laid off from her job. That was the moment she decided it was time to overcome her fear of failure and pursue her dream of running her own photography business.
She took a pet photography workshop and her life just clicked into place. As a professional pet photographer, she realized that not only could she pursue her passion, but she would also be surrounded by dogs at work. Stephanie was hooked! With some accounting and business sense under her belt and a renewed confidence, she was off and running, and hence the name, Chase and Snap Pet Photography.
Today, she works with clients from across Monmouth County, NJ and NYC. She also founded the Strays Around the World Project, inspired by a trip to Puerto Rico in 2010. "It broke my heart to see so many homeless dogs, dead and alive, on the island’s streets and beaches," said Stephanie. "I could barely even pick up my camera on that first trip, but returned determined to document the dogs’ state and help raise awareness and funds for strays around the world." This summer she visited Italy, and in 2013, she'll be travelling to the Dominican Republic with her fiancé and inspiration José. Her goal is to visit a different country every year and eventually publish a book, featuring the dogs on her travels.
She recently had the exciting pleasure of photographing Jersey Lauren and other adorable satos (slang for street dogs) for the “Spirit of the Sato 2013 Calendar: From Street Life to Sweet Life” to benefit Eatontown, NJ based nonprofit Project Animal Worldwide. Calendar cover pup Jersey was pulled from Dead Dog Beach in Puerto Rico by Project Animal Worldwide, then adopted at the Monmouth County SPCA by Dylan Lauren of Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC and her husband Paul Arrouet. "Normally photographing puppies is difficult because they never stop moving," said Stephanie, "But, Jersey was able to sit and lie down on cue (with a little help from some treats)." The photos came out amazing and will hopefully raise significant funds for Project Animal Worldwide through online sales.
Whether photographing dogs for a private photo shoot or stealing a snapshot of a stray, Stephanie always discovers a bit of her own love, admiration and compassion for the subjects in her photos. As mom to two of her own pups, Seren and Starfox, she is presented with more than enough photogenic moments, documenting their silly antics and characteristic affectionate, but stubborn corgi spirits. Though our pets cannot speak to us, Stephanie hopes her pictures continue to tell their stories, as well as help to raise funds for homeless dogs who also deserve the chance at living picture perfect lives.