At this year’s local home design event, Rooms with a View, attendees enjoyed the talent of pet photographer Jim Dratfield. He cofounded Petography, Inc., an animal portrait studio specializing in fine art photographs of pets, in 1993. Since then, he has built an impressive clientele, including Jennifer Aniston, Henry Kissinger and Barbara Walters. His images prove pets can steal the shot.
Dratfield’s business started with puppy love. He had been building his acting career, including a run in the Broadway revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner (he played the son who runs off to become a photographer) and on the TV show St. Elsewhere (as paramedic Bud Keiser). He also founded O Drat! Productions, a theatrical production company. His Akita, Kuma, was featured in a clever series of promotional mailings to casting directors.
Making the promotion, he realized other pet owners would also cherish such photographs, and so, Petography was born. Dratfield now splits his time between New York City and Los Angeles and has published twelve books, including his latest, The Love of a Lab (2016). See more at petography.com.
TIPS FROM THE PRO
1. Put a squeaky toy just above the lens, not way above it.
2. Shoot from their level.
3. Place them on a chair to keep them from running out of the frame.
4. Use their name.
5. Shoot in what is called “open shade,” where the light is even.