Hi, I’m Kira DeDecker (“key-ra dee-decker”) and I’m a pet photographer serving Arizona’s greater Phoenix Metro area. Welcome to my blog! This is where I share not only my most recent work but also my life with you. Client sneak peeks, Facebook recaps, announcements, updates, awesome new offerings and the occasional (okay, frequent) story about my crazy but amazing life with my three dogs – Sox, Bixby and Waffles.

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faq...q&s...and everything inbetween, Uncategorized

December 24, 2014

Pet Photography F.A.Q. | 2014 Edition

I came across your instagram and fond your website. I love it! I am in college right now as a photography student and was just wondering if you have any tips for me. I have a passion for dogs and would really like to get into dog photography. Also, my goal would be to work towards getting my work out in dog locations and on magazines. Any tips for that?
So last year I get a call from the art director for multi-million dollar pet retail chain. If you live in the US or Canada, there’s a very good chance that you have shopped at one of their stores before. It’s a huge company. Anywhoo, I go into a meeting with my portfolio and sit down and talk with 5 art directors for various departments. They love my work (told me I had beautiful lighting and loved that I showed ‘authentic connections‘), they want me to do their lifestyle imagery for the next quarter and to submit numbers to them. As the meeting is wrapping up, the head art director compliments my website. Apparently all the art directors have looked at it. Apparently, they were very impressed. She then told me that people send them their websites look for work and that they aren’t professional at all! Yikes.

The moral of this story? If you want to do Commercial or Editorial work and your website is blah – FIX THAT!

(I ended up turning down the job offer.)

Kira, how do you go about getting your work in a vets office? Or pet resort
In the span of a few weeks, I was contacted by not one but two local businesses (Foothills Pet Resort & Laveen Vet Office) looking to hang my work. How did that happen? They reached out to me. Yup, much like how I book editiorial jobs and get offers to do commercial work, they got in contact with me. Honestly, most days I just sit at home in my PJs while I work.

  • A clean well built website. At the bare minimum, your site should have a gallery (with thumbnails to navigate), no flash, your contact info, your location and service area, as well as basic info on you and your business.
  • Good local SEO. If they do a search for “city/state pet photography”, it helps if you are on the first page. Even better if you are the 1st and 2nd one listed.
  • Good body of work. It goes without saying but don’t totally suck at the photography thing. Once you get eyes on your work, give them something nice to look at

I’m curious what your little plaque says. I have a few spots lined up that I’m ordering for display but I really want to showcase my work without marking the canvas. What size is your plaque if you don’t mind me asking
It’s a 5×7 mounted print. It has my photo, my location as well as a little blip about me and my photography services.

Hi Kira I love your work. I’m an aspiring pet photographer. I was hoping you could tell me what camera you use and tips for a beginner. Did you go to photography school?
I use Canon gear. As for tips, I post how to’s and editing tips right here on the blog. Another great place to check out is the Beautiful Beasties. And no, I did not go to photography school. Self-Taughties are hotties.

Do you use presets, either through Photoshop or Lightroom? I’m wondering if this is something I need to explore.
I do use presets and actions but they’re ones I made for myself. Does that count? A general rule around these parts: If it takes more than one click – make it a preset/action. Save yourself time.

I’m a huge fan of your amazing pet photography and your blog of amazing tips and tricks, especially the editing tutorials. I’ve recently tried to take an image of a cat on a coloured background and I’m completely baffled on how to light it. While I have white backgrounds down to a fine art now, coloured seamless has me totally lost. I guess to sum up my question in one sentence … in the gorgeous image below of Waffles [from my Simple Color Shift tutorial), do you light the background and Waffles separately, or just one (or two?) big modifier on the front? I’ve been zooming in and trying to figure out your catchlights like a weirdo but I can’t figure out how you lit it.
(So this would be a great time to pull out some shots of my quote unquote studio and close ups shots of my studio work but I’m making a huge jump from PC to MAC and I don’t have access to my achieved files so it is what it is. For curious parties, I did find a few photos posted on my instagram here and here)

So basically my studio is an 11×11 room with a ceiling mounted chain system to hold three 8-foot seamless paper rolls (they come in 9 foot, we cut them down), walls painted white and it features a big long south-facing window. I like the keep things simple since it’s a small space so for that shot I attached my speedlite to my hotshoe, angled it at a 45 degree and bounced the light behind me off the window and ceiling.

Now days I use a monolight with various light modifiers.

I love your work and was wondering if you offer any kind of mentoring. I am really looking for someone to bounce ideas off of about pricing, what to offer and being a boutique photographer. So much of the information I find is geared toward regular portrait photogs and I am really needing someone who knows the world of pet photos. If you aren’t offering any mentoring, are you aware of any other pet photographers that are? Thanks for your time!
I’m considering doing some sort of mentorship/teaching but my interest would be in shooting and post processing. The business side is hella important but not something I’m at all interesting in mentoring on so the chances of me teaching about the business end anytime soon are slim to none. On the upside, Beautiful Beasties has a great list of people and workshops to learn from.

Hi Kira, Loved your educational segment on action shooting. I also have a Canon and use the back button focus. I have 2 questions from your article. 1. ‘Don’t let camera focus for you’ which I thought you meant manual focusing, but then I seen you use Al Servo. What did you mean by not letting camera focus for you? 2.. How do you know how fast a lens focuses. All I’ve heard about fast lenses was the widest aperture. Thanks again for sharing your expertise.
When I say ‘Don’t let camera focus for you’, I mean don’t use your camera’s autofocus. Choose your own focus points. Manual focus is fine and dandy if you have a big viewfinder with a focusing screen, oh and if you are into that kind of thing (I can’t say that I am).

As for the fast focusing thing, I know a lot lens reviewers will comment on it (look for comments on the autofocusing). And I’m a big fan of renting lenses, so if that is something that is in your budget, it’s always great to play before you buy.

How do you get the lighting to look like there’s a spotlight on them [from the blog post Fetchapolza]? Is this done in post-processing? I love the look./What did you do to make the dog stand out so much more [from this photo posted on my FB page]
I’m not trying to sound glib I swear but vignetting.

I love your pups. Wish I could get these photos of ours. Whats your settings?
Those photos were taken over the course of several years (what can I saw, Sox really loves his Hippy!) so there are no set shutterspeed/apeture/ISO setting/lens used. There are several factors that these photos have in common…

High shutter speeds
Burst mode
Ai Servo mode

You can read more on Shooting Action and Moving Subjects.

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Kira DeDecker is an on-location lifestyle pet photographer specializing in one-of-a-kind fine art and modern portraits. She works exclusively with dogs, cats and all other four legged creatures to create vibrant, quirky and soulful works of art.She also photographs needy animals pro-bono for non-profit animal organizations (like Cavalier Rescue USA).

Kira DeDecker Photography is a editorial and commercial pet photographer based in Glendale AZ and serves the Metro Phoenix area (Scottsdale, Peoria, Phoenix, Suncity, Surprise, Goodyear, Avondale and Tempe) and beyond.

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The List 
The Daily Dog Tag 1,2,3,4,5,6
Hair of the Dog 1,2,3
Pretty Fluffy 1,2
Itty Bitty & Fluffy 1,2,
Healthy Paws 
PAWSH Magazine & Studio
Joy Session 1,2,3
Beautiful Beasties 1,2,3,4

Kira DeDecker | info@kiradedecker.com | Arizona Pet Photography