Pet Photography

Photo Session: Tonya Pet Photography

Copy: Serena Faber Nelson

Photography: Tonya Pet Photography

A someone who has made a living out of writing, it’s very rare that I find myself lost for words. But when I first saw these heartfelt images by pet photographer, Tonya Schabacker, all I managed was a little gasp. I don’t know whether it was the crisp, light filled photography, the creativity behind the shots, or the personality beaming out of each of these fluffy subjects… But what I do know is that I was immediately smitten.
With a strong background in commercial photography (including a stint at Martha Stewart!!) Tonya now combines her photographic talent with her lifelong love for animals.


How would you sum up your photography philosophy in one sentence?
I like to keep things as simple as possible so that the true personality of the animal of the shines through.

What’s the best thing about being a pet photographer?
Without a doubt spending time with the animals. I get to play around with a lot of wonderful little creatures. And I love it.

Why did you become a pet photographer?
Well, I started out as a commercial photographer. I shot for Mountain Dew, Kendall Jackson wines, USA Today, Kraft Foods – some really big name clients, but unfortunately it wasn’t making me very happy. So I did some soul-searching, and sat down and made a list of all the things I love. At the top of that list along with photography was animals. As a matter of fact, when I was in photography school I worked at the Humane Society. Animals and pets have always been a huge part of my life, so what could be better than putting the two things I love the most together and making a career for myself in the process.

What is your number one tip for people trying to photograph their own dog?

Turn off your flash. You’ll need a little more light to do this, so try to photograph your pet outside, or in a room with plenty of window light. Unless you use studio lighting, a flash is going to make your pets eyes glow, and give it an unnatural feel. If you find that your pet is moving around too much and you get blurry shots, try turning up the ISO on your camera. This should help eliminate the need for the flash, and give you nicer more realistic photos.

Why should people get professional photos of their pet?
Owners will always take lots of snapshots of their pets, and that’s wonderful. But snapshots can be fleeting. There’s something special, something precious, something valuable about high-quality images that you didn’t take with your phone, you know? When someone gets a professional session done, they’re more likely to make prints, and frame them. Or keep them in an album. Of course they can still pass them around socially – email them and post them and tweet them. But then after that, they’ll still have meaningful images of their pet at that particular time in their lives. In many cases, even after their pet has passed. After all, our pets are members of our families. A portrait is a wonderful way to honor all the fun and joy and happy that they bring us every day.

Tonya Pet Photography

I adore the fact that Tonya has been able to combine her brilliant skills with her love of animals. To me the stunning images that Tonya creates are an inspiration to us all, encouraging us to follow our passions.
You can see more of Tonya’s delicious images on her beautiful blog. Want more? You can also join her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Copy: Serena Faber Nelson

Photography: Tonya Pet Photography

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7 responses to “Photo Session: Tonya Pet Photography”

  1. Photo Session Tonya Pet Photography…

    […]By Serena Faber Nelson Leave a coment. A someone who has made a living out of writing, it's very[…]…

  2. Karyn Wilde says:

    Gorgeous images 🙂

  3. Debby says:

    I accidentally came across you from a tweet by according to gus!

    Your blog is gorgeous! I’ll definitely be checking back! Had to comment on these pics too – stunning!

  4. Denise says:

    WOW! I know Mr. DARCY! that’s TOO funny…awesome work, thanks.

  5. wow this first dog are so nice, i can even can’t recognize it is the photo or draw

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