How We Became Award-Winning Pet Photographers

Originally appeared in Fetch Magazine. Many subjects come through the doors of our St. Francis-based studio to have their photos taken, but none have wetter noses or more hair than the furry-four-footed pets accompanied by their owners.


As IN-FOCUS Photography celebrates 25 years in business this year, Jerry and I look back to see that our photography journey began with animals. Our first date as 19-year-olds was a trip to the zoo with our new 35 mm cameras. We found a passion in that experience that didn’t exist at the electronics manufacturing plant where we both worked, and it wasn’t long before we opened IN-FOCUS Photography in 1991.


Jerry and I were not always known for our award-winning pet photography. In fact, our first ever pet session that kick started the popular niche was in 2006, when client Penny Wagner wanted her three Jack Russell’s photographed to appear on the cover of Fetch Magazine. Without prior pet photography experience, Jerry and I rose to the challenge of photographing the high energy dogs. The session was a success, resulting in our first of many Fetch Magazine cover photos and our new-found knack for photographing pets.


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We began offering pet photography to clients, which quickly took off as pet lovers of all kinds discovered that we could capture images of their pets which they never dreamed possible – images that would capture the charm and personality they see every day in their pets, but which they could never take themselves.


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Now I know what you’re thinking. “My pet would never sit still long enough,” or “It’s impossible, I’ve already tried.” Most pet owners are skeptical in fact, but Jerry and I have developed ways to capture your pet at its best. First we let the animals scope out their new surroundings and get comfortable with the sights, smells and strangers. Then we use treats, toys, sounds and more to get the pet’s attention – from my famous cat meow (shrilling, but effective), to placing a bone on a dog’s nose, or even putting puppies in baskets or purses.


We often tire the pets out with our antics, but can always capture the split-second moments that matter, perked ears, a curious look, jumping for a treat and even a smile! Jerry has earned the name the “dog whisperer” by many clients because of his patience with the animals and the respect he receives from them.


A pet session here at IN-FOCUS is never predictable, and mostly never easy. But as pet lovers, Jerry and I realize the value of the pet photography we produce and continue to offer it and even encourage clients to have their pets photographed. The images allow pet owners to remember and cherish their pets for years to come.


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Our energetic golden retriever, August, gives us fresh ideas for our next pet session. Auggie loves splashing in the water at the beach (she never wants to leave) and playing catch with Jerry in the field behind IN-FOCUS. She follows us around the house and even gets jealous when she sees us kiss!


Spending time with Auggie gives us the energy in the studio to keep going until we get “the shot(s)” our clients are looking for and the inspiration to adapt new ideas or methods for making the pet session better and more fun for the pets. We haven’t turned down a pet yet, and are always eager to photograph new types of pets or breeds.


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