Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  Allison@AllisonShamrell.com  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2016, by the San Diego A-List.

Archive: ‘housekeeping/fyi’



Yahoo! The votes are in… Allison Shamrell Pet Photography is officially #1!

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

I’m thrilled to announce that my incredible clients & friends have made their voices heard – and as a result, we won!!! (And yes, I say “we” – because even though I’m a solopreneur, this is a team victory that validates all the great experiences my clients have had!)

 

best pet photographer certificate

 

That’s right – the official 2017 results are in, and my business ranked #1 for the “best pet photographer” category on the San Diego A-List!

This is such incredible news. Most importantly, it proves that all the hard work I do every day means a lot to the awesome people I get to call clients. And that’s really rewarding for me. However, it also signifies that I have a lot to live up to – because the title of “BEST” certainly doesn’t mean I get to relax! It means I’m obligated to go on being the best – which (to me) means innovation, meticulousness, and constantly hustling.

Plus – if I’m really being honest – it just feels great to win! No one ever said I should stop being competitive just because I’m not playing basketball anymore! :)

So thank you to everyone who voted for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It may have felt like a two-second click of the mouse (or tap of the finger) to you, but to me it was a tremendous show of your support.

And since I’ve won this award every year since 2014 (double yay!!) you can bet that I’m thinking about alllllll kinds of ways to outdo myself again! This year, it was adding a “Pack Portraits” event for my past clients & networking colleagues, a free (!) quickie photo session at one of San Diego’s most iconic locations. Next year? I wonder what it’ll be…

Here’s to crushing the rest of 2017 as San Diego’s best pet photographer! :)

The Best Pet Photography Products

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

how much should a pet photo session cost

I absolutely love creating gorgeous images of pets & families around San Diego… but you know what’s just as much fun? Doing something with those photos! It’s a tragedy, in my opinion, to let high-quality imagery languish on a forgotten hard drive… and products are often an afterthought of people seeking photography. Which is totally understandable, to be honest with you; it’s hard to envision what you’ll do with photos that haven’t even been taken yet. But I’d love to provide you with some inspiration today! I’ve been photographing 4-leggers and their families for over 6 years, and over that time I’ve seen firsthand which types of products have a lasting impact & can truly stand the test of time. I’ve also curated my product line throughout those years to include the best & most popular products that my clients & I have consistently loved. These are some of the best pet photography products that I’ve ever seen – so I’m excited to share them with you!

 

1. Wall Art

best products and prints

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best canvas products

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best product collage

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pet photography canvases

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pet photography canvas

 

Wall art is a classic way to enjoy your portraits every day. This is hands-down my favorite type of product; decorating the space you spend your life in with images you truly love.

I offer fine art prints, canvas gallery wraps, and metal prints – and as you can see, they all have a very different look! I typically recommend choosing the medium that best suits your design style; if modern & contemporary is your thing, go with metal! It’s stunningly gorgeous and makes an impact wherever you display it. But if rustic & organic is your look, then canvas gallery wraps are a perfect fit – they have subtle texture and a vibe that evokes the natural side of life. On the other hand, traditional and classic style lends itself well to fine art prints. Whichever medium you choose, you want it to fit in with the rest of your home’s decor, and a variety of wall art products allows me to work with any client’s design style.

 

2. Albums

best products for pet photography

 

Okay, I know I said that I love wall art the most – but my albums take a very close second place! Books & albums are the best way to display ALL the photos from your pet photography session. You probably won’t choose to hang up 40 photos on your walls (do you have that many walls?), but you can enjoy them all in the pages of a premium album! Plus, albums are a great place for the detail images, the silly moments, and the funny outtakes that simply aren’t suited to be hung on the wall.

I also like to include quotes from various authors & historical figures in my albums; there are SO many great sayings out there about pets, love and family, and they help tell the story of your session and what your pets mean to you as you’re flipping through the pages.

 

 

3.Digital Images

best pet photography products

 

It’s 2017, so this post simply wouldn’t be complete without a mention of my digital products. But can I share something with you that not many people know about digital photos? The resolution is key. Purchasing a photo with high-resolution is like pulling out all the stops; you can print it at many sizes and it won’t look grainy or pixellated. It can, however, be overkill for digital use; super-high resolution is why photos on websites take a long time to load. Whereas photos with low-resolution are the perfect quick digital option! They load quickly, take up less hard drive space, and are generally more nimble & versatile online. But their weakness is printing; a physical copy of a low-resolution photo will often appear pixellated. (It’s not the printer’s fault – it’s the photo!) So make your choice carefully, based on what you want to do with the images from your photo session! My clients often choose the high-resolution option, so they can make Christmas cards and fun stuff in the future (like mugs & mouse pads!) and in that case I give them a complimentary low-resolution version of each image too, just in case they want to share them online without a headache. But many of my clients also choose to have a custom mobile app with their images, which is a great low-resolution option! It’s so much fun to have a quick-access app on your phone, so you can always bring up the photos from your session!

 

4. Desktop Prints

pet photo desktop print

Okay, I admit, this is not a high-quality photo – it’s an iPhone snapshot of my desk! But what better example can I give you of why I love desktop prints? This is a photo of my girl Bailey, and I absolutely love keeping it so close by. Because as much as I love to pull out all the stops with archival wall art & custom-designed albums, I also know that there’s a beautiful simplicity to an old-fashioned framed print on your desktop. (Or your shelf, or entry table, or dresser…) So why argue with tradition? My fine art prints are UV-coated, too, so even if your desk sits in the sunlight, your prints will never fade. That happy face will always be as vibrant as the day of our photo session.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it! These are some of my favorite options, and I think they’re the best pet photography products on the market today. If you’re working with a photographer, keep this in mind: I hope you’ll choose products that fit your lifestyle & how you prefer to experience photography. There are tons of options out there (I offer a few more products, too!) and I think you’ll love picking out your favorites!

In the meantime, let me leave you with a couple of my creative wall art collages (in metal and canvas) for inspiration…

 

metal collage pet photography  canvas collage pet photo

 

Best Pet Photography Session Locations in San Diego, CA

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

bet pet photo locations san diego

 

I’m excited to share some of my favorite local spots around town with you! If you’re considering booking a pet photography session for you & your family, this will (hopefully) be a super-helpful source of ideas – or maybe the perfect memory jogger for that great spot you already know about! In any case, they’re the best pet photography session locations I know, so I think you’ll like them too!

 

For Any Pet: Your House!

best photo session location home

Your pets are most comfortable in their home, so why not cozy up on the couch for your photo session? I’d love to photograph your dog in his “natural habitat” as he runs around in the backyard, relaxes in the living room, and even snuggles into your bed (if he’s allowed!).

If your dog is uncertain of new places, or especially shy around new people, or elderly – or if you have a cat – this is probably the best place to be! And don’t worry about your hone not being photo-ready: I’ll be focusing on your dog, not the bits of clutter & dust in the corners of the room. But if your dog is highly territorial, or not allowed on any of the furniture, or you don’t have any backyard to speak of, or if you’re a contender for a future episode of Hoarders, keep reading…

 

For Active Dogs: the Beach!

beach for best pet photography session

We live in San Diego, for goodness’ sake! Let’s go to the BEACH! Whether you live near Coronado, Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island, La Jolla, Del Mar, or Encinitas – the beach is most likely a part of your lifestyle here in Southern California – so let’s GO! I looooove the beach! :)

If you have a retriever of any kind, or simply a pup that loves to run, swim & fetch, I’d be happy to meet you on the shores of San Diego. And since dog beaches are typically not ideal locations (because there are always a million of other dogs & distractions there), I know a bunch of dog-friendly beaches around town that aren’t packed with pups! Although if you have a dog that doesn’t like water, or can’t swim (coughbulldogscough), or simply doesn’t have the energy to run through the sand, this may not be the ideal location for your photo session. Keep scrolling…

 

For Any Dogs: the Park!

best pet photo session parks

We’re so lucky to have an incredible selection of gorgeous public parks around San Diego, and they’re all so diverse! Our parks have green grass, flowers, architecture, and plenty of room to run, depending on where you go… or maybe there’s a new park in your neighborhood that I’ve never visited with its own hidden treasures?

Every dog looks great on a backdrop of green grass. Seriously, all of them. The park is literally always a win (unless your dog can’t handle being outdoors for some reason). Just like the beach, I stay away from dog parks, and prefer parks that just happen to be dog-friendly instead. We’ll keep your dog safe whether we can trust him off-leash or not, and end up with a great variety of images that have a natural, classic feel. Bonus points if your dog has already been to the park we pick, and feels comfortable there from the get-go. You can’t go wrong!

 

For Outdoorsy Dogs: Hiking Trails!

best pet photography hiking session locations

My dog, Bailey, is an explorer. She’s happiest when she’s out in nature, sniffing everything, and discovering all the secrets of a new place. (And stumbling upon a wild rabbit is the icing on the cake, haha!) If your dog is anything like Bailey and loves to be out in the wilderness, let’s go hiking in one of San Diego’s many canyons & trails!

If the words “hiking buddy” describe your dog, this can be the perfect location! And there are plenty of trails around San Diego to choose from. But if your dog isn’t the “active” type, could run the risk of overheating in the sun, or has an obsessively-high prey drive, a trail might not be ideal after all. Read on…

 

 

 

For the Modern Dog: the Studio!

best pet photo session studio

Last but certainly not least, the studio is a fabulous location for a modern, fun photo session! The uncluttered, solid-color backdrops let your dog’s natural beauty shine through; there are no distracting visual elements. It’s all about your pet. Simple, classic & timeless.

The studio is perfect for dogs of all energy levels (yes, really!) that are comfortable in new environments. It’s the safest environment possible, since it’s totally private, 100% secure, and free of any major distractions. If your dog can’t stand the sight of other dogs, this might be the perfect place! But if your dog stresses out in new places, is scared of lightning (not thunder, but lightning, since I have two strobe lights in the studio) or simply comes alive when they’re outdoors & free – this place might not be ideal for them.

 

 

For the Discriminating Dog: another unique place!

pet photography session locations

I know several places in San Diego’s neighborhoods that don’t fit in the above categories. Sunset Cliffs, Old Poway Park, East Village (downtown), Cedros Avenue (Solana Beach), local marinas, military bases, luxury hotels, the Sweetwater Bridge… the possibilities are endless. Let’s get creative!

 

And remember: all this being said, I LOVE to discover new places. If you have a different location in mind – even if it’s far away – don’t hesitate to ask!

 

One more thing to consider:

At the end of the day, the best pet photography session locations for you are the ones that’ll complement the decor you already have in your house! If your house is decked out in beachy, pastel colors and you use seashells as design elements, we should definitely head to the beach. But if you prefer to decorate in a rustic style, with organic tones like browns and khakis, the natural environments of the park or the hiking trail would probably fit your look best. Take your current design strategy into consideration when you make this choice, and you’ll thank yourself later. On the other hand, if you don’t have much of a “design strategy” to speak of, the choices are wide open! Where would your dog like to go? 

A Career in Pet Photography – My Advice for Aspiring Pet Photographers

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

I often receive emails from students asking about making a career out of pet photography. Some of them are in business school, others are in photography classes, and others are simply curious! I can’t blame them: it’s a great question, and I admire their forethought, especially since I certainly didn’t plan on becoming a pet photographer when I was a student. So I’d like to answer a few of the most common questions that I’m asked here in this blog post – so that aspiring pet photographers can learn about this spectacular career that I feel so lucky to have!

two dogs in a flower field
1. How long have you been a professional pet photographer?

As of today (May 2017), I’ve been a full-time pet photographer for 6 and a half years! I began in October of 2010, in Pensacola, Florida, and we moved to San Diego in 2013, which is where I’ve built my business ever since.

2. Why did you choose pet photography?

Because I love pets! Haha! Why else would you become a pet photographer?!

Seriously though, I fell in love with photography in college. I mostly shot sports back then, thanks to a field press pass via the student newspaper, but I also tried weddings/events/families/babies, etc. soon after graduating. Pet photography turned out be the perfect niche for me, since I love working with animals more than anything else.

advice for students

3. What kind of education/training did you get/need?

Photography is one of those interesting careers that doesn’t require any professional certifications. I don’t have to pass a bar exam like a lawyer, there’s nothing that says today I’m a photographer but yesterday I wasn’t. (On a side note, I think that’s why this industry is filled with so many part-timers, “weekend warriors” and shoot-and-burners. But that’s a discussion for another time!) So I didn’t “need” any education in the formal sense of the word. But I needed education in every other sense! I’m kind of an education junkie, to be honest with you. I’m constantly studying, and it’s not always about photography: marketing, workflow systems, lighting, posing… the list goes on! I took Photography 101 in high school to learn the basics of how a camera functions, and then worked for the student newspaper in college and learned shooting & editing techniques from my fellow photographers, so that’s about as “official” as my education ever was. Since then it’s been in-person workshops, online videos, conferences and the generous help of people who have gone before me. So to be perfectly honest I needed a LOT of training, but not in the traditional sense of the word. And practice – simply practicing my craft has been the best training possible. When I first started out, I shot as much as I possibly could, and no Photoshop tutorial could ever be more valuable than that.

aspiring pet photographers

4. What do you think is the most rewarding part of your job?

Oh my gosh – the families. The people I work with. Giving them something they wouldn’t have been able to create on their own is an AMAZING thing. I get to create artwork of the most difficult-to-photograph member of the family, someone’s best friend. That’s awesome! You see, before I started my business, I mostly shot sports (at that student newspaper I mentioned). And I went to a big sports school (Notre Dame!) so we LOVE our sports. But at the end of the day, I don’t think landing the front page of the sports section even comes close to capturing the spirit of a member of someone’s family. Dogs have an amazing zest for life, and powerful lessons to teach us humans – to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy life in the moment, to play more – and I think those lessons are worth so much more than an awesome touchdown shot. And when I present a finished album or canvas gallery wrap to my clients, and they start to cry and thank me for a portrait that captures the essence of a family member that won’t be here forever… it sometimes brings me to tears too. Don’t get me wrong – I love the adrenaline of capturing a touchdown or a slam dunk, and I always will – but it simply doesn’t compare to working with pets & families every day. This is an incredibly fulfilling job, more than I ever imagined before I started.

advice for pet photographers

5. Do you ever hire interns or assistants?

I have, absolutely! Running a business is a huge endeavor and I can often use a little help – but I have to be careful not to hire anyone at the detriment of a client’s experience. For example, I don’t use an assistant during my photo sessions, because I want to keep the experience intimate and minimize the distractions. But not all photographers feel that way; many successful pet photographers love to have assistants during shoots. At the moment I don’t use an assistant for anything, but that might change in the future!

6. Is this a full time job?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yes.

advice for aspiring pet photographers

7. What is your favorite pet to photograph?

Dogs. :)

8. How much does this job pay?

That depends. (But if you’re doing it just for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.) When I first started out, I made less than minimum wage, since I didn’t know how to value my time or how to charge for my products & services. But that was acceptable to me at that point, since I loved starting this business and I relished the idea of working for myself. These days I make well more than minimum wage, which reflects the improvement I’ve made in my craft & my clients’ experience. Your photography business can make plenty of money, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that doing a shoot for $100 (for example) is $100 in raw profit. You haven’t accounted for your expenses, most notably the large percentage that the government claims in taxes. (Don’t get me started on that.) Sorry I can’t give you a straight answer on this one – it’s really up to you!

9. What do you do on a daily basis?

Oh man… so much. Every day is truly different. I might be shooting, editing photos, culling photos, ordering products, quality-checking products that have just been delivered, calling my lab to fix products that have any flaws on them, blogging (!), answering emails, making phone calls, planning events, prepping for events, making posts on social media, learning about effective social media strategies, keeping up with local businesses that I partner with, brainstorming new marketing avenues, checking the ROI of my current marketing, purchasing new supplies or backdrops for the studio, categorizing transactions for my accountant, making sure my bank accounts are in order, analyzing my spending, doing inventory, cleaning/organizing my studio, putting together a surprise or two for my clients, corresponding with those clients and planning their sessions, answering clients’ (and prospective clients’) questions, following up with new inquiries, developing my commercial photography portfolio, enhancing my website, making sure I’m on top of any industry trends/news… the list goes on!

pet photography advice

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring pet photographers?

Study business. I thought owning a photography business would be 90% photography and 10% business. Turns out, it’s the other way around. And you should really genuinely passionately LOVE animals! And also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I just opened a pet photography education resource, with one of my best friends (and local “competition”!) that might prove useful if you’re actually in the beginning stages of starting your own pet photography business. It’s called Professional Pooch and we designed it to help other people turn their hobby/interest of pet photography into a full-time job, like we have!

11. What’s your greatest challenge in this field?

Oooh, that’s a good one. I’m an optimist and I don’t like to dwell on my struggles, and I don’t recommend that you do either – but I’ll answer the question for me personally. I’m challenged by the fact that there are only 24 hours in the day. I’n challenged by wanting to constantly outdo myself and produce better & better work. I’m challenged by the fact that I love my clients but I also value work-life balance. I’m challenged by the aspects of business I never thought I’d have to be an expert in – SEO, accounting, finding & sourcing the best products on the market (and sometimes creating those products myself when they don’t already exist). But I also consider myself very lucky to have a supportive family, a killer work ethic, and awesome clients that I really connect with. You have to take the challenges along with the helpful aspects, since they go hand-in-hand. And besides, what fun would this be if there weren’t a few obstacles along the way?

 

I hope this has been helpful for aspiring pet photographers, no matter where you live or where you’re at in your journey! Good luck! :)

2016 Holiday Cards for my Wonderful Clients!

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

This blog post is addressed to a slightly different audience than usual: it’s for my lovely, fabulous, amazing past clients! If you’ve had a session with me in the last few years, I think you’ll be excited about today’s announcement!

Here’s the thing: I know it can be hard (and frustrating) to get organized for sending holiday cards. It feels like a chore for so many people. Even if you have the perfect photos for your cards (ahem), it’s still time-consuming to pick a place to print them, choose a design, stick a ton of return-address labels on the envelopes (or – gasp – write your address out each time!) and get all this done during the chaos of the holiday season. Am I right?

So here’s your solution! Gorgeous holiday cards, fully-designed and printed on luxurious linen paper for you, and delivered to your door in plenty of time to send them out to friends & family! This is the first-ever time I’ve offered anything like this, and I’m SO EXCITED about it! Check it out!

 

holiday cards for pet owners

 

Take a closer look at your 4 unique options:

holiday card designs

These are beautiful flat cards, printed on gorgeous linen paper from one of the nation’s best professional printing labs, and customized with your family’s names. I’ve included complimentary overnight shipping and pre-printed envelopes – so it truly couldn’t be any easier for you!

 

So, my lovely clients, all you have to do is pick your favorite design and choose a couple of photos! You can order as few as 20 cards or as many as 2000 – in increments of 10, you have total flexibility. Each set of 10 cards is $25, and you’re welcome to use the photos from our session, of course – but if you have another special photo, I’m happy to include it as well! (As long as you own the copyright, of course!)

 

Just remember: the deadline to order your cards is Friday, December 16!

 

Email (allison@allisonshamrell.com) or call me (619.357.6624) to get started! And I hope I can save you some time this holiday season!

 

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