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Pebzz.com caught up with Chris, founder of Smudger Photography, to discuss his business and his unique take on pets and animal close ups
1) How and when did your business start?
Smudger Photography, as a business, is relatively new as I only turned something that what was a hobby into actual work in 2017. But my interest in animal photography has been going for some years prior to that. I think, like many photographers, you reach a point where enough people you know like what you do, so you take the leap to see if you can earn money from it.
2) What is your background and experience that lead you into starting this particular business?
As said above, it started as a hobby and playing with a camera to be honest. A genuine love of animals and nature gave me a specific area to focus on, which I think has helped shaped my opportunities. There are so many things that you can take a photo of, you could spend a lot of time being too general. So having a specific field of interest early on, one which I love regardless, helped me explore what is available and wanted from a business perspective.
3) How are you different from other photographers?
Although there are lots of people who do animal photography, I don't see many that focus on small animals that are pets. There are lots of dog and cat photographers, but what about indoor rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and rats for example? I have a business relationship with Small Companion Lodging, an indoor boarding service in West London, who provide plenty of opportunity to practice my skills!
4) What has been your greatest lesson in business? Biggest mistake?
Business wise it's too early to say as I'm still exploring opportunities and building a customer base......so I've not had chance to make a big mistake yet. But as a photographer, plenty! You don't progress as a photographer unless you learn, as most of the photographs you take are not good enough.....so are 'mistakes'. The important thing is to learn from them or you don't improve. One mistake I did make early on was to keep chasing the shot that was better than my 'best ever', then being disappointed that I never achieved it. I learnt that any good shot can be the 'best ever', just for different reasons......there is not one 'best ever, just maybe a few favourites. Oh, and always, ALWAYS take your camera with you.........many shots are lost when you are not prepared to find them!
5) Tell us about your product range and where do you see it growing?
The main focus is on indoor pets and unique close ups that pet owners have not considered. So when they see the image they see their pet in an a new light. We provide these as high quality prints, enhanced photos and canvas prints. We do outdoor work, mainly in the UK countryside but also in Europe, focusing on unique landscape and close up work. We also do a small amount of marketing work, for pet and animal related services and products, which is an area I would like to see grow. I'd also like to get into the video side of the industry so have just started experimenting on that.
6) How important is animal welfare to you, considering the unique nature of your product and services?
Very important. As a vegetarian with a love of animals I try to take an active role in animal welfare. Our work with SCL helps us provide education to many different owners on pet care. We also work closely with some animal rescue charities and help with fostering.
7) Do you have any pets of your own? If so, what do you have?
I have two rabbits, a dog and a degu.......although they are still all learning to live together in total harmony!
For more information about Smudger Photography visit them at www.smudgerphotography.com