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  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

My Business, and The Shark Tank ~ Pensacola Pet Photography by Allison Shamrell

I got back from a photography conference called Imaging USA less than a week ago. I spent three very long days (starting before the sun rose, and ending hours after it set) learning about how to best run a photography business – from the most brilliant photographers in the country. It was an absolutely incredible experience for me, and since the business side of my business has been on my mind ever since, I have a feeling the next few blog post are going to be highlighting a few of the back-end processes of things, instead of the usual peeks at the final product for any given client. Because while those kinds of posts are important too, they’re only specific to each family I work with. The way I run and grow my business (even the way I think about my business) affects everyone I come in contact with. So I think it’s worth a few blog posts!


One of my absolute favorite shows on television is Shark Tank on ABC. It was introduced to me by my friend Lina, and I can’t thank her enough for it! To introduce you, I was hoping to grab a video from YouTube to embed in this post. Unfortunately, that didn’t work, so I have to make you click over to Facebook to watch the trailer for this season ( and a great (pet-related!) example of what happens to everyone on the show: Seriously, go watch them! They’re very short clips. I’ll wait till you’re done.


Back? Great! So as you can tell, this show is all about business owners proving the value of their product, their company and themselves. The sharks are filthy rich and could afford to invest in every single one of the contestants, but they don’t – they’re entering legal contracts to do business with these people for the forseeable future. While my heart breaks for the people who’ve mortgaged their house multiple times, dipped into their kids’ college funds, and maxed out their personal credit to fund their company’s product – and yet the sharks still say no – there’s definitely something to be said for the realism of the show. So of course, watching this (in between yelling at the contestants and the sharks, alternatively) I get thinking about Allison Shamrell Photography. Would the sharks invest in me?


I can test myself by the questions the sharks most-often drill the contestants about:

  • Have you made any money?  Well, thank goodness, the answer for me is yes. But the costs of running a pet photography business are far more extensive than I expected when I first started almost a year and a half ago! I thought the only expenses I’d have would be new equipment and treats for the dogs I’d photograph. Ha! Looks like I was forgetting a few things: insurance, professional associations’ fees, lab fees, product costs, website hosting, blog redirecting, online data backup, advertising materials, digital templates, product packaging materials, and a whole lotta postage. To name a few things. Plus, since this’ll be the first year I’m not reporting a loss on our tax return, I hear there’s a significant amount of income tax I’m about to owe. You’ll probably hear the scream when I find out how much. So, making money: definitely not a given. But at least I can say I have.
  • How many units have you sold?  Since Shark Tank has a primarily product-based premise, and my business is service-based, this question doesn’t entirely apply. But, I can say that I’ve been blessed with enough clients to keep me busy every day (and some nights!) for the majority of 2011. Of course, there are times when things are slow – like February, when the weather is just blegh and it’s generally too cold to be comfortable outside for a three-hour session. But that’s normal; every photographer has a busy season and a slow season. And since I’m a one-woman show, I’ve been selling enough units – wait, yuck, I hate how that sounds, I don’t “sell units”, I do custom sessions – I’ve been doing enough custom sessions to keep me working at capacity! Which, honestly, is how I like it. I’m one of those people that’s happiest when they have too much to do. Go figure!
  • What’s your plan for the future? Ha! I kind of giggle when people ask me about the future. With a husband in the military, and orders that could come literally any day (oh yes – we’re living the dream!) and take us across the country, the future is something I just can’t spend time worrying about. Since I don’t know where we’ll go, I can’t exactly plan to do much, and without knowing when this will happen, I see no reason to act as if it’ll be soon. It’s not ideal, but hey, it’s okay – and for the time being, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing, almost as if a cross-country move wasn’t even going to happen. Whenever we do get relocated, it’ll be a struggle. I know that. I’ll be starting over with no client base, no networking contacts – basically nothing but a website and business cards. Yikes. Maybe I would have thought that was enough to start a business a year ago, but now I know that I can’t do anything alone. Relationships are everything – in business as well as life, I think – and that’ll be what the future of my business depends on.
  • What’s proprietary about your company? That’s a very good question. There’s usually a specific reason why a new start-up business grows and succeeds: they have something no one else does. Something no one else can copy (usually because it’s trademarked or copyrighted). They focus on a weakness of a pre-existing product and turn it into a strength. Can I tell you something? Back when I first started, I remember designing my website and writing things like “Contact Us” and “We appreciate your business”. I didn’t want to touch my About page (that I knew I really should write) because I was embarrassed to admit that it was only me over here. No one else. I felt like no one could trust me if they knew I was doing 100% of everything; as if I needed a staff or even a partner just to run a halfway-reputable business. Wow. It’s embarrassing to admit that now… but my attitude has turned 180 degrees! Now I know that what’s proprietary about my business – what gives it its strength – is me! I’m literally the reason this business is what it is: I’ve made the big decisions about what to photograph, what products to offer, what I want my website to look like, and how to conduct myself in my business. (I would give credit to its general success, though, to my husband: he’s talked me down from some pretttttty bad ideas!) So I suppose that’s why my business is named Allison Shamrell Photography – is because it’s all me. When you decide to have a session, you get my time, my talent, my experience, my effort, my everything. And – sometimes this still surprises me – my clients don’t seem to mind that I don’t have employees. They’re okay with this one-woman operation. Thank goodness, because now I know I shouldn’t hide it, I should shout it from the rooftops!


Well, since I think this is one of the wordiest blog posts ever, I should stop there. Shark Tank is on Fridays at 8, plus it’s all over YouTube and Hulu. I can’t give it a higher recommendation. Go watch it and thank me later! And in the meantime, thanks for supporting this (very) small business.


I noticed when I was writing this that Bailey wasn’t napping in her usual spot in my office. I went to see where she was… and found the image I’ll leave you with today.




~ Dog Photography by Allison Shamrell in Pensacola, Florida ~


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Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

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2 Responses to “My Business, and The Shark Tank ~ Pensacola Pet Photography by Allison Shamrell”

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    Bailey must be used to seeing you with a camera in front of your face taking her picture! She looks so calm here!

  2. Lori says:

    I like this different post! It is interesting to see “behind the scenes”
    Bailey looks like she is thinking there is no sanctuary from the camera haha

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