A Guide to Starting your Dog Sport Photography Business

Whether you’re an amateur photographer looking to turn your passion for dogs and sports photography into a profitable venture, or a professional looking for some tips, this guide will provide you with a blueprint to booking your first dog sport event and launching your business.

In this post, we’ll cover everything from attending events and learning about the dog sport, to finding practice opportunities, setting up your business structure, and booking your first event. However, note that this is not a comprehensive guide, and I plan to cover reach of these steps in detail in future blog posts. Let’s dive in!

Attending Events and Learning

To become an excellent dog sport photographer, it’s crucial to immerse yourself in the sport and understand its nuances. Attending dog sport events as a spectator, volunteer, or even a competitor, if possible, will give you valuable insights into the moments that competitors find important. As a competitor yourself, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the different handling maneuvers, the relationship between the dog and handler, and the sport’s rules and game. This knowledge will enable you to capture those special moments that truly showcase the athleticism and connection between the dog and handler in your photographs.

Finding Practice Opportunities

Once you have a good understanding of the dog sport and have honed your photography skills, it’s time to find places to practice. While it’s not recommended to practice at official events where an exclusive photographer is already hired, you can explore other options. Look for dog training facilities that offer classes and ask if you can come and practice photography during these classes. It provides a training opportunity for dogs to get used to having a photographer present, and you can capture action shots and moments that will benefit both your photography skills and the dog owners. Workshops, seminars, and run-throughs are also excellent practice opportunities. These events allow dogs to work in longer turns, giving you more time to capture their movements and showcase their abilities. If you’re unable to find any of these options in your area, consider organizing a practice session with friends who have dogs currently competing in the sport. This way, you can practice capturing fast-moving dogs without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Setting Up Your Business Structure

Before booking your first event, it’s important to establish your business structure. You can start as a sole proprietor, using your name followed by “photography,” or choose to register as an LLC if you want a more formal business structure. Open a separate business checking account to keep track of your business transactions and to separate personal and business finances. Consider obtaining business liability insurance to protect yourself and your clients in case of any unforeseen incidents during events. It is recommended to consult with an attorney or a professional to help you navigate the legal aspects and choose the right business structure for your specific needs.

Receiving Payments and Delivering Photos

When it comes to receiving payments from your clients and delivering the photos, it’s crucial to have a streamlined system in place. Several websites, such as Pixieset, Shootproof, and SmugMug, provide platforms that allow you to showcase and sell your photographs. These websites typically have integrated payment processors like Stripe, Square, and PayPal, enabling you to accept credit card payments securely. It’s important to build the transaction fees into your pricing to ensure you cover the costs associated with accepting online payments.

Booking Your First Event

Once you have your business structure and website set up, it’s time to book your first event. Network within the specific dog sport community you’re interested in and identify the best venues or facilities for your photography. Reach out to the trial chair for the event you’re targeting and offer your photography coverage services. Showcase your previous work from your practice sessions, provide information about your business, and express your professionalism. Establishing a relationship with trial organizers will open doors to more opportunities in the future.

If they say yes, congratulations, you’ve booked your first event! With all of the prep work you’ve done, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful photography venture in the exciting world of dog sports. Remember, mastering your craft, understanding the sport, and providing exceptional service to your clients will set you apart and contribute to your long-term success. So, grab your camera, immerse yourself in the dog sport community, and get ready to capture unforgettable moments of athleticism, connection, and joy between dogs and their handlers. Happy shooting!

Want more? Listen to the full episode of Fetching Profits!

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