Photoshoots have become an integral part of our special occasions - capturing precious moments and keeping them forever. How can we forget our pets, then? Besides food, couture, pool parties, dog fashion shows and grooming, yet another trend visible in the thriving pet industry is pet photography.
Famous pet photographer Prathima Pingali, who has started a studio pet photography project called ‘Pawparazzi’, says pet parents are willing to do anything for their faithful companions. They are viewed not as ‘just pets’, but family — more akin to a sibling or a child. “It’s been amazing! People absolutely love what we’re doing and want to be a part of it. There’s no one in the world who wouldn’t want to be a part of their own family photo, or miss out on beautiful moments like their pets’ first birthday, or their maternity photoshoot! Everyone’s story is worth telling, and we’re here to help them capture theirs. We get a lot of calls from couples who have a dog and are expecting a baby! We do a lot of maternity shoots and always have the same clients coming back to us for a follow-up shoot once the baby is born! In these shoots, we try to capture the relationship between the baby and the dog as they will be best friends and grow together!”
Hyderabad-based Prathima has been shooting things since she was in 10th grade. “I realised that I was really good at capturing moments. I knew that there had to be other people out there, like me, who love their pets as much as they love their children, and hence, started Pawparazzi. I loved capturing the relationship that one shares with their pet and also capturing their pet’s personality. Capturing the happy moments between a pet and its parent is always great. The fun part is getting to know each family. Every pet is different, and it’s so exciting to be able to get to know everyone, to learn about them. Pampering them with treats and exciting gifts after the shoot is my favourite part! The most challenging one is also the same. Every pet is different — their temperaments, behaviours, what they like and dislike. Everything has to be understood, paid attention to and most importantly, respected. If a dog doesn’t want to do something, we never force them. Free will is very important,” she adds.
About the preparations for photoshoots, she says, “We have a four-step process - meeting the pet and pet parent, shooting, editing, selecting and printing, and delivery. The first step is always important. We try to get to know them. We arrange an informal meeting where we just talk and learn about the relationship that they share with their pets.”
Prathima has an adorable dog named Prancer, who she rescued. “He is my muse. He is always ready to help me try new things when it comes to pet photography. My first dog’s name was Pax. He was my inspiration and the reason why I started Pawparazzi.” She has some suggestions for all those who would like to be a pet photographer. “Patience is the key and understanding animals doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve worked with dogs all my life. I even recently worked with The Blue Cross of Hyderabad, which helped me understand how to work with timid, shy or traumatised animals. We go out of our way and tailor the shoot to suit the pet’s needs. Respect the animals’ freedom. Lastly, you need to absolutely love what you’re doing and know why you’re doing it,” she wraps up.