Posted on October 15, 2015: “The trend that has given rise to the increased spending on pets is called pet humanisation, wherein we treat our pets just like a human or another member of our family. One concept that I had in mind when I started was festive shoots. We have so many festivals in India that we all celebrate with so much enthusiasm. So a calendar shoot would be an amazing idea. You could use the appropriate décor and props for each festival, Diwali, Holi, Christmas being the major ones,” begins Karthik Nair, tech entrepreneur-turned-pet photographer and the brains and lenses behind Furry Moments – a pet photography service catering to pet parents in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore. “Most of us treat our pets as members of the family. Now most of us get family portraits clicked and we hang them up in gorgeous frames in our houses. Pets today are a very important part of our lives and we miss them when they’re gone. We can click pics on our phones, but having an all-out portfolio or a family shoot with your pet is a lot more personal. It’s something you cherish forever. Secondly, a set of good photographs always comes in handy when you’re looking for a mate for your pet,” he informs.
Furry Moments was an idea born out of another idea. “I was working on another tech-related pet project when I realised that this was a niche market that was relatively untapped. More importantly, it was a good way to know my target audience personally and gather useful insight into their problems and how they deal with it. That’s how I started out by hiring professionals for the shoots, but then learnt the art myself, and after having spent most of my time around pets, I am now very comfortable doing shoots myself and know my way around it. I also have a small team that assists me when I need them,” he says, “Once a client contacts me, I pay them a visit. I find out all about them and their pet, so I have a story or a background to plan the shoot on. I ask them what they’re looking for. Some clients have requests like using certain props and particular locations. I try avoiding studio shoots, as it’s not a comfortable setting for the pet. I prefer the client’s house and garden or other outdoor locations. I use this visit to let the pet get comfortable with me and my camera, and then I return another day for the shoot. A shoot usually lasts 2-3 hours. Where I stand apart is, I don’t charge by the hour. I know a shoot can take longer if the pet is untrained or hyper. Secondly, I do not limit the number of images. I provide the client with as many images as I get, and they include edited images as well. Thirdly, I am very flexible with the number of indoor and outdoor locations. I go out of the way to get in certain shots if there is a particular location or idea that comes to my mind.”
The art of shooting animals
“It is different and difficult at the same time. Shooting people is a lot easier. If you ask the subject to look left, he or she will look left. You can just ask them to do what you want and they will comply. Pets, on the other hand, can be a task,” he laughs, “Pups are always hyper, and since they’re not trained, you have to wait till they’re ready to be clicked. This means running around the house or playground waiting for the perfect pose; waiting for them to tire out, and very often, luring them with toys and treats! Cats are a lot mellower and love to pose for the camera. The trick is to stay away at first, and only get closer once you win their trust. Older pets are sort of lazy and don’t care too much for the camera or the attention. So you have to make the best use of what they give you and plan your shoots well in advance.”
And it is only fair to ask a lensman a question on aesthetics – so who looks better in pictures, cats or dogs? “Cats have amazing eyes, so that’s something that stands out in images. Dogs, on the other hand, are goofy, cute, smart all at the same time so you can get interesting shots that bring out their personality,” he answers, diplomatically.
But for him it is not about the looks as it is about the feels. “The whole point of Furry Moments is that we like to capture candid moments with the pet parents,” says Karthik, “The last shoot I did was of a boxer. The client who approached me wanted to gift the shoot to her friend (who’s dog it was) as the dog was diagnosed with cancer. For that shoot, I tried bringing in more of the human-pet bond into the picture. Single shots make for good portraits and bring out the pet’s personality, but when you bring in the parent, it’s a lot more personal and emotional. The results were beautiful. The client loved the images, and I had an amazing time shooting them!”
He recounts his first shoot when asked about his most memorable shoots to date, “I shot two Rottweilers. I had only heard about them being ferocious and hostile and had never really interacted with the breed, so I was petrified. However, once I met them, they won me over. They were absolutely adorable! Playful, friendly and well behaved. And then of course there’s Tyson the boxer! I remember, I was done with the shoot and was leaving when I looked up to the sky. It was beautiful! It was pink and the sun was setting. Right then, I asked the client to get Tyson into the car. We went on a drive, and I got some stunning shots of him sticking his head out of the car. It was one for the books!” he excitedly adds.
Pet photography – passing fad or growing trend?
Karthik is realistic about the current situation with pet photography but hopeful about the future. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t really picked up as yet, but mark my words, this will be a trend in the near future,” he says, “The pet care industry in India is one of the biggest and fastest growing in the world. A lot of our trends and corresponding businesses have been emulated from the west. Pet photography is a booming business abroad, and I’m sure once people see what it is all about, the interest will grow.”
He has some frank and self-effacing advice for those looking to join the ranks of pet photographers in India. “I’m not the best person to be giving out advice on the topic. However, if I were to give my two cents on it, the first would be to know your basics. You must know what lens can deliver the shot you are looking for. You must know what settings are best suited to the lighting conditions around. Secondly, you must be patient. This is something you will learn the hard way. You are never really in command. If the dog wants to look at your lens, he will. If he’s decided he wants to be difficult, there’s no convincing him,” he said, while giving some much-needed tips to pet parents about choosing the right photographer for your furry babies’ photoshoot, “look at their work. That would speak volumes. Secondly, interact with the photographer so you know you’re comfortable with him coming over and shooting you and your pet. I share a very good rapport with my clients, and that goes a long way when you’re shooting. It makes things easier and also reflects in the images. It’s a lot more than just charging someone for a shoot and delivering. It’s a more personal affair.”
Photographs courtesy Karthik Nair @ Furry Moments. You can follow Furry Moments on Facebook and Instagram. To book a photoshoot and for more information, log on to www.furrymoments.com or call them on +91 7722040839.