We recently caught up with Kelly Miller from Hairypants Photography, who kindly gave us an exclusive interview:
Tell us about your work
I’m a Brisbane based photographer specialising in fun, natural images of pets and the people who love them. I work with clients to create images that showcase their pets uniqueness and turn it into artwork they will have forever. A big part of the business and something I’m hoping to do more of this year is also supporting pet rescue groups by photographing their adoptable pets as well as regular fundraising activities.
How did you get interested in photography?
I was a late starter to photography, only really getting interested about 10 years ago. I bought my first DSLR camera when I adopted my dog Henry and just fell in love with taking photos of him and all his doggy friends. As I got better at it, taking courses and learning my way around the camera and the art of photography, I started to wonder if Pet Photography was a “thing”. A quick search on google answered that question, and from there the seed was planted to start my own business.
What do you think makes a good photo of a pet?
Achieving eye contact and being down on their level (I spend a lot of my time at shoots lying in the grass!) are a great place to start, but really a good photo of a pet is the one that captures their personality.
For some dogs that might be looking straight at you with a quizzical head tilt, while for others it’s a shot of their furry butt as they chase after a ball at full speed!
Can you describe a typical day?
I find I’m most productive earlier in the day so I’ll often do a bit of work when I first wake up around 5 am catching up on emails/messages etc before a nice long walk at Kedron Brook dog park with my dogs, Henry and Lulu. From there most of the morning is spent on the computer editing images, client ordering sessions and general business admin work. If I don’t have a shoot that afternoon, I’ll often try to sneak off somewhere fun with the dogs or check out some potential new locations.
Shoots are almost always late afternoon in the couple of hours before sunset, so on days I’m shooting its often around 7pm before I’m back home, and because I’m always so excited to see what I’ve captured there’s usually another hour or so spent uploading all the photos, then choosing and editing my favourites to post on social media the following day.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
This will probably sound a bit strange, but it was actually the first time a client messaged me after her dog had just passed away. I’ll never forget how grateful she was that she had beautiful images of the two of them together, and how much comfort they were giving her as she grieved. I’ve received that message more times than I can count now, but that first time will always stick with me.
What do you love most about what you do?
My absolute favourite thing is when I get to make a picture that captures what it feels like to love and be loved by that pet. There’s nothing better than being able to put that feeling we all have about our pets into a picture you can have on a wall forever.
Who inspires you?
Pet Rescuers! I am constantly inspired by the commitment and tenacity of these people. I’d name them but I know they’d be horribly embarrassed at the attention. They work full-time jobs, have families and somehow still manage to save hundreds of lives in their “spare time”. They see the absolute worst of people but still keep doing it day after day.
I’m also really inspired by people and businesses who manage to effect positive change while still being commercially viable. I feel like that has to be the way of the future for humanity. Here in Australia, I love “Thank you”, “Who Gives A Crap” and “Savour Life”… all of which have turned commodities we all buy regularly into a way to do amazing charitable work which is genius!
Do you have any predictions for pet photography?
When I started Hairypants 6 years ago, there were probably only 5 or 6 other pet photographers in Brisbane. In the last couple of years that’s exploded and now there’s well over 20 so it’s definitely a growing industry. With the explosion of “insta pets” there’s definitely an opportunity for photographers who want to focus on an affordable digital product to keep busy with that part of the market, as the appetite for a constant stream of fresh imagery is huge.
At the other end of the spectrum where I tend to focus, I think the flip side of the overwhelming number of photos we all have on our phones is a growing trend back towards displaying beautiful professional images as artwork in our homes. Like everyone else, my phone is filled with photos of Henry and Lulu, but they’re not the ones I want on my walls. For that I hired a professional.
The great thing is that with the explosion of photographers across all genres, it’s now easier than its ever been for people to find a photographer at the price point, quality and style they want.
Do you have any plans for the next 12 months?
This year I’m hoping to get a personal project happening where I reconnect with the people who adopted some of the rescue dogs I’ve photographed over the years. I love the idea of being able to see them loved and happy with their new families and I’m hoping that by sharing their stories more people will consider adopting or fostering themselves.
About Hairypants Photography
For more information head to the Hairypants Photography website.