5 Things I Wish I Knew About Money When I Became a Pet Photographer

Author Recent Posts Nicole BegleyNicole Begley, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, is a zoological animal trainer turned pet photographer and educator. She created Hair of the Dog in 2012 to empower pet photographers to turn their dreams into reality by helping them improve their craft and grow their pet photography business.Nicole has authored a book “Pet and Equine […]

Written By Nicole Begley

On April 7, 2016
A lot of us have money hang-ups. I get that. Growing up in my home, money was often discussed, and more accurately it was the shortage of it that was the topic of conversation. We form our values and beliefs about money at a young age. What this means is that very likely what we believe to be true about money has been passed down to us, rather than fully formed out of our own experiences.

It’s time to start re-thinking what we believe to be true about money!

#1  Time is Money. Charge what your time is worth to YOU.

Where I live, I am the most expensive pet photographer in the area. Is it because I am the best, or most in-demand pet photographer in the area? It’s doubtful. Supply and demand, perceived value, and many other factors most definitely are valid reasons for being expensive (that’s a whole other discussion), MY reason is because – It’s not worth it to me to do it for less.

I have spent a lot of years as an entrepreneur and a lot of those years were spent always on-call, and constantly working into the wee hours of the night. I have put in my time! Time cannot be bought, traded, or stolen and it’s the most valuable thing we have! And, my time (and yours) is running out.

Money, on the other hand, is a renewable resource. I have decided that in order for me to dedicate my precious time for something (time away from my friends and family), I need to make $X/hour for that time. The “magic number” will be different for everyone!

Charge for your services based on what your time is worth to you, not based on what others are charging. Why should a stranger get your time for less than what it’s worth to you? Enjoy your life, because it’s shorter than you think!


#2  Don’t project your hang-ups about money onto your clients.

Up until this past year, I co-owned a pet food store. I was a part of that store for nearly ten years, and grew it to be very successful. When I first started, however, I had a real issue recommending products that were expensive. I had a hard time even carrying them in the store even if they were fantastic products. It was because I didn’t put a high value on those items because I didn’t personally need them.

Over time, I started to realize that those hang-ups about price and value were mine. They were not necessarily the views of my customers. I had to start simply using my knowledge as an expert to educate people on their best options, and letting them choose. Kind of like a decision conduit.

The same holds true for the value of photography, and photography products. When you change your view from a view of selling to a perspective of educating, it completely changes how you feel about it. And the best part is that it usually results in more sales and happier clients. Try it!

What people choose to do with money they do or do not have is on them. Not you. They will say no if they don’t value, or can’t afford, a product or service you offer.


#3  You are doing your clients a disservice if you hold back valuable products and services because you are too afraid to put a value on them.

Building on #2. It can really have a negative impact on your client’s experience if you do not give them the chance to decide on their own what they would like and would not like to purchase from you.

A perfect example of this – a few years ago my dog Brindel was really sick. After a visit to one vet who told me it was a tummy ache, I wasn’t convinced and sought out a second opinion. (She wasn’t eating, and in her 11 years of life that had NEVER happened no matter how bad her tummy was.) The second vet told me the same thing.

I sat in her office, frustrated and belittled because I insisted that something else was wrong, and I was being told otherwise. Finally, the vet offered to do blood work for me:

“I mean, we could do blood work but it’s like $200…”

I agreed enthusiastically, and when that blood work came back, it turned out Brindel had pancreatitis and was suffering immensely (as indicated by her lack of appetite).

I was infuriated that no one made this suggestion to me earlier. I imagine it was because in the past other clients may have objected, possibly citing it as a money grab. However, in my mind, I was paying an expert to give me all my options so I could make a decision. Brindel suffered needlessly for several hours, and it broke my heart that I could have prevented that.

Your clients are paying YOU to give them the best options and services to suit their needs and it’s your responsibility to them to provide them to them – no matter what they cost.


#4  It’s OKAY to prioritize your paid work over your pro-bono work at times when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Many of us are involved in pet photography because we love animals dearly. We want to do all we can to help them, and it never seems to be enough, does it?

We have all heard about that little thing called, “compassion fatigue”, right? People that are deeply invested in charity work can sometimes work themselves so hard, and they feel so deeply, that it becomes overwhelming for them. When this happens to a person, they are of no use to anyone, including the animals in their service.

Always remember that you can say no to pro-bono projects when you are in over your head, and it’s ok. These projects will always be there, and they will never go away no matter how much blood, sweat, and tears you invest in them. You cannot do it alone; you HAVE to learn to moderate yourself and sometimes that means reducing your workload (by prioritizing your paid work), or by taking a break!

Finding a balance between work, life, and charity is allowed and it’s ok. You are not a slacker or a bad person. The more money you earn, and the more time you spend on yourself and with your family, the better position you will be in to serve for the long haul.


#5  Put positive thoughts about money into the universe, and see what you attract back!

From time to time I do like to get a little WOO WOO about things, and really challenge the way people think about their own realities. Before you dismiss the following, I challenge you to just give it a try!

In the past, my associations with money came from a negative place. Some of the most common things I thought about money included:

  • There is never enough money.
  • If I spend money, I will never get it back.
  • I am scared to be poor.

Now, consider the law of attraction. What you put into the universe is what you’ll get back. What you focus on becomes your reality. I was creating for myself a pretty bleak reality, wasn’t I?

My challenge to all of you is to stop focusing on the scarcity of money and instead, think of it as something that will commonly flow into and out of your life (and the lives of your clients). Think of money as being fluid, instead of finite. And, change your self-talk. Try visualizing every day:

  • Your credit card bill arriving with a balance of zero owing.
  • Yourself enjoying that holiday you have been dreaming about.
  • You donating a large sum of money to your favorite charity.

It can’t hurt to try it, right? It has been my experience that when you put this good stuff “out there” that the circumstances required to create these realities start to fall into place. Maybe a new client, or a new business relationship, or you sell a stock image for a large sum of money.

It has taken me many years as a professional pet photographer and entrepreneur to figure most of this out! But, I can’t tell you how much easier things have become since I started to apply some of these tips toward my own life and business.

BIOWEB Holly Montgomery, AKA “The Introvert DogTog”, has been an Entrepreneur in the pet industry for nearly ten years, and has oodles of experience building relationships with her clients, vendors, and other businesses. She is also the artist behind the camera at BrindleBerry Pet Photography.

 Holly recently authored, “The Introvert Pet Photographer’s Guide”, which is designed to educate other photographers on how to find their voice, earn more money, and thrive in business, all while being true to themselves. 

Holly currently resides just outside of Calgary, AB, Canada in DeWinton, with her five companions – one patient husband and four fantastic dogs.




Looking for some more pricing training?  Forget what every other pet photographer is charging -- the best thing you can do for your business is set your prices based on YOUR business and YOUR goals. It’s time to stop following the pack and let your rates lead you to a sustainable business!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The #1 thing you need to know BEFORE setting your prices
  • My simple formula to set up your pricing structure for success 
  • How to increase your prices without losing customers

Oh, and did I mention this is a free training?  Grab it below.

Nicole Begley

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  1. Piper & Abbey Photography

    This is so wonderful to read! Thank you for writing this, creating the FB group and now Instagram too! It is really helped me and I can’t wait to read more, more, more 🙂

  2. Piper & Abbey Photography

    This is so wonderful to read! Thank you for writing this, creating the FB group and now Instagram too! It is really helped me and I can’t wait to read more, more, more 🙂

  3. Piper & Abbey Photography

    This is so wonderful to read! Thank you for writing this, creating the FB group and now Instagram too! It is really helped me and I can’t wait to read more, more, more 🙂

  4. Holly Montgomery

    Thanks for allowing me to guest post Nicole!!

  5. Kristen Basar Vallejo

    excellent article- important concepts!

  6. Andrea Jones

    Really interesting post with lots to think about – thanks for sharing your experience and insite 🙂


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