If you haven't heard of Sharon Montrose or The Animal Print Shop, then get ready to live. Sharon is a renowned animal photographer that captures absolutely spectacular photos of all different kinds of animals in her studio. From buffalo to zebra to baby monkeys and everything else in between, Sharon has had it in her studio and captured the creature beautifully. Today Sharon tells us a little bit about herself and how she got started. Be sure to visit The Animal Print Shop to see and purchase all of Sharon's gorgeous photos!
What got you started doing animal photography?
At first I had a very tough time turning what I loved doing into a way to earn a living. I floundered for many years before I became established as a working photographer–I was shooting headshots and weddings and doing okay at it, but I wasn’t happy doing either and had lost the love I had for photography.
Around the same time, I adopted my first dog (several members of my family also had dogs), so I started taking photos of all the dogs in my life to see if it reignited the love I once had for photography. It did, and I learned an important lesson as a result—I had to have an authentic connection with my subjects.
Shortly afterwards I began work on my first book Dogtionary (Viking Press 2001). The book came after many failed attempts at marketing myself as a private party pet photographer. Back in 1998, people didn’t spend money on their dogs like they do today. The book (and subsequent books) established me in my niche because the internet was still new, so being published was more productive in those days, and there were very few published photographers with dog books in the United States—there were only a handful of us in the shadows of the great William Wegman, Elliot Erwitt, Henry Horenstein, and Keith Carter. I think it was me, Jim Dratfield, Kim Levin, Valerie Shaff, Sharon Beals, Deborah Samuel, Jeff Selis, and Debra Marlin. If I forgot someone, I’m human—please don’t send me hate mail.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? And what's the hardest part?
The best part is that I get to earn a living doing what I love, and I get to be around animals. The hardest part is that my work is 24 hours a day. There's always something I could be doing, so I work very hard to give myself some down time when I need it.
What gear are you using in your studio?
It depends on what I'm shooting. I use Canon, Hasselblad, and Mamiya cameras. I usually use Profoto lighting.
Any advice for aspiring animal photographers?
Actually, I'm careful not to give advice. I started in this business over 15 years ago (pre-internet) and photography has changed so drastically in the digital era. I'm just glad I'm still working. People ask for my advice all the time, and I'm sure it's disappointing for them to find out I don't have any. You've got to be resourceful to be successful. Plus there's no manual for success.