JP Pets: Photographer makes pet portraits

June 21, 2013
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Jamaica Plain-based photographer Jenn Alton knew she was barking up the right tree when she expanded her business to include pet portraits.

“Pets are an extension of people’s families. They want to include them on portrait sessions of their engagement or family photos,” she said. “I’ve also had the clients where it’s their first puppy or kitten and they want to remember those moments in photos.”

Unlike human subjects, Alton knows that she is not in charge of the shoot.

“Pets are tricky to photograph. They can’t tell you what they want or are about to do,” she said. She makes sure to have time with the pets before the shoot so they can get used to her and her equipment, and tries to hold the shoots in places the animals already know.

“This eliminates some of the fear factor for the pet,” Alton explained.

But the trick to capturing the best images, she said, is to keep moving and shooting.

“Don’t stop moving or shooting because that next moment [might be] the shot you were hoping for,” she said. One of her favorite shots, of a Boston terrier and a tennis ball, taken from between the dog’s legs, was one such happy accident, she said.

That said, a well-trained dog allows for an easier session, she said. But she photographs all animals, from dogs and cats to chinchillas to reptiles. A few years ago, for a personal project, she shot a pair of axolotls, or Mexican salamanders, a type of amphibian with external gills that resembles a small dragon.

“I think that was the most unusual pet photographed I’ll have for quite some time,” she said.

Alton’s pet sessions can range between $250 and $350. Her website is jennalton.com.