Not all famous pet photographers have a massive online following. Some just do it because they love it, and they are incredible at what they do. Take Jim Dratfield’s Petography. Jim has been featured on ABC’s 20/20 and The View and was profiled in Town & Country and Oprah’s O. Magazine. His clientele includes Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Laura Dern, Billy Joel and Elton John. Not too shabby!
So how does he do it? “The most challenging thing about being an animal photographer is patience.Animals are very honest in the response to a camera and if eyes are the window to the soul well then an animal invites you to capture that essence,” Jim says. “But the most rewarding thing about being an animal photographer is capturing the relationship between human and animal. That bond is very profound and very strong.”
Jim tries to tell a story with his images and believes that is what people appreciate most about his work. His favorite photograph that he’s taken is called “The Soulful One.” “It is a simple portrait of a flat coated retriever, however the look in the eyes of the dog tell the story and I find it very touching,” he says.
Photo shoots are rarely dull, especially when you travel all around the US for them. He once did an outdoor photo session for Henry Kissinger. He arrived shirtless, and his pants kept falling down. “I had him making barking sounds to his dog Amelia. It was quite the sight,” laughs Dratfield.
As a pet photographer, you have to have a love of animals. Jim has a nine-year-old black lab named Sawyer, a four-year-old wired-haired pointing Griffon named Maeve, and a black rescue cat named Nico. He also contributes to many different animal charities. Over the years, Jim has had twelve books published by major publishers, such as Random House and Rizzoli.
His best tip on photographing pets? “The key to the shoot is patience, patience, patience. Animals will give you so very much, but you have to work on their terms and in their time.”