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The Essential Guide to Using Exotic Pets in Your Photoshoot

by Carlton Whitfield. Published Tue 31 Jan 2023 10:43

There can be various ways of creating stock photos
using exotic pets. Stock photo shoots while working with exotic pets and animals are a fast-growing and popular photography niche. This is also considered very interesting and a bit unusual. Nice wardrobe, cool location, interesting perspective, or posing human models with an anaconda? Read on.

What should you keep in mind?

Using exotic pets as a prop in stock photo shoots is a key idea that a few stock photo makers think to be almost possible. Depending on your location it could be a highly possible likelihood. This said, working with an exotic pet comes with its own rules, tricks, and ideology in ensuring a unique partnership can be made possible.

Multiple misconceptions about working with exotic pets on a stock photo shoot in art and entertainment exist. When you speak to those who have worked with animal handlers in helping prepare exotic pets and animals for stock photo shoots, there is a lot to learn.

Safety steps to be taken

Before getting started, it is necessary to note - working with a bear or tiger is no easy task and must not be assumed to be easy. They are after all wild animals and if they get startled there is no controlling what they might do.

Multiple misconceptions about exotic pets in stock photo shoots exist around them being taken from the outdoors. When we mention 'exotic animal' it just means they are not usually housed in human homes.
What kind of animals will I work with?

While foxes, wolves, and coyotes are wild animals, the species you may collaborate with can be domestic. The exact opposite actually. Certain breeds are bred domestically such as dogs or cats. Many such exotic pets are domesticated over multiple generations from wild animals. Your stock photo shoot subjects are most likely bred with specific intents considered and could be tamer than wild animals. Breeders seek out calm temperaments, health, and friendliness.

Your stock photo subjects have not endured the hardships of the real world. These animals have never needed to hunt to eat, try to survive, or fight with other animals. So when you release them into the outdoor world you are condemning them to a fast and instant death. These animals, trained and cared for by humans, only know warmth from handlers, very good health, a lot of tasty food, lots of playtime, and mental engagement.

A few activists want you to envision these exotic pets getting abused or being deprived – this is inaccurate and untrue. While bad seeds exist, most breeders and organizations working with such animals do their best to provide optimal care. Many want photographers to warm up to the animals and view pets first-hand.

What are ambassador animals?

Most of the exotic pets ready to be photographed are ambassador animals. They represent their wild brothers and sisters in educating the general public. These animals are taught to be viewed by the public.
While this is accurate it still doesn't make exotic animals pets.

Only well-trained individuals must keep them, due to them requiring care and attention to be able to live in happiness. In various countries, you must obtain a license for owning certain animals. In America, you receive this license from the USDA (the United States Department of Agriculture).

The right paperwork

Ensure whomever you get exotic pets from for modelling jobs for your stock photo shoot has a license allowing them to use these animals. You should not simply ask for a license. Ensure you get their license details and check them with USDA. In the past few years, you could double-check numbers using the APHIS system.

For the safety of everyone on set and the animal, as well as a few license requirements, most exotic animals are going to be on leashes during your photo shoot. Be ready to mark out those leashes when editing your images.

Even with the likelihood of an incident being slim thanks to well-trained animals, be safe rather than sorry. Ensure a liability waiver is signed by the concerned parties.

If possible, meet and familiarise yourself with the animal before the photo shoot. This helps assess its ability and comfort at a shoot. This gives the animal the chance to be comfortable around you, and get familiar with camera noises. You can understand how easily your subject reacts to being in your photo shoot.

It is useful to know this before inviting models and staff members on set. This allows you to either confirm or deny all preconceived notions you could have about your subject.


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