Annette Shaff has a somewhat unusual and unconventional portfolio. Her work interchanges conceptual photography with unexpected images of some dangerously adorable dogs. Today Annette shares with us her story, tips and advice for aspiring photographers. We warned you about cuteness overload, so scroll cautiously!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
I have a degree in graphic design but photography is my passion! I started submitting to stock websites in 2006 when I was a commercial photographer and still submit frequently. I was an image reviewer for almost 10 years so I learned a lot about the other side of the stock industry. Right now I do a lot of wildlife photography and you can see in my Instagram account.
What were some of your preconceptions about working with microstocks and how have they changed over time?
I’m not sure I had any preconceptions, I can say that I disregarded all the websites stated policies of “do not submit pets” and went ahead and submitted my cute dog photos where they were promptly accepted. That policy was quickly rescinded after that by sites across the board.
Your images with dogs are adorable, are they your bestsellers?
Thank you! A few of them are, but not on all sites. Some of my conceptual photos are at the top of the list.
From your experience, what are the images that sell best and what are some factors that can influence that?
Sometimes it’s random but in general I think images that sell best are the ones that convey a story or message or a conceptual idea. I think buyers want to immediately capture the attention of their audience and they can do that with a story telling image.
Do you have a favourite image in your portfolio, if so, what’s the story behind it?
I actually have several favorites and they’re of my dog Hercules who, along with my dog Chuie was the impetus behind my stock photo career. He was goofy and funny so I took a lot of photos of him. This image conveys his silliness in a nutshell:
Herc and Chuie passed in May of 2015 so their photos obviously are even more endearing to me now.
Where do most of your photoshoots take place?
A variety of places, I do some in my studio, others on location and then there are the random photos that aren’t even planned that find a spot in my stock portfolio.
What are some essential components to starting your own photography business?
Know the market you are entering and find your niche, if you’re a new photographer, do research on pricing in your area, get honest feedback from your friends and family on the level of your talent/skill. Don’t let anyone tell you what equipment you have to use to succeed, use what works for you, get on social media and get your brand out there!
What inspires you to continue shooting and creating?
Being able to set my own hours and do the photography I want to do.
What can we expect to see from your portfolio in the future?
More wildlife, macro and more candid photos. And of course more cute dogs!
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