Etching Your Pet’s Photos on Your Heart

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Prathima Pingali
Camera reel filled with your pet’s photos. Instagram stories with your pooch and profile picture with your furry friend, now that’s the sign of a true pet parent. Meet Prathima, the founder of Pawparazzi, who turned her passion of pet photography into a full-time career. –by Prathima Pingali

From humble beginnings come great things
My whole life I begged my parents for a pet and they kept telling me that when I turn 13 I’ll be old enough to take care of a pet and that’s when I’ll get one. But at the age of 10 years I moved to a boarding school, and unfortunately my dream of getting a pet shattered into pieces.

In 2015, when I started college we were finally able to bring home this cute little bundle of joy who we named Pax. He was the best dog ever.True to his name, he always made sure that we didn’t scream at each other and that there was peace at home, because if we did scream, he would bark at us and tell us to stop! He was adorable. He was our new sibling and we loved him dearly. In September 2017, Pax passed away after undergoing a surgery. He was only three years old and the death was very sudden. It really took a toll on us and losing him was the hardest thing I have had to go through.

Being a photographer, I loved taking his photographs and took thousands of them which helped me capture memories that we shared with him over the course of his life.

These photographs now help us relive those memories even today, as the photographs hang on our walls and are etched in our hearts.
That was when it hit me, ‘what if there are other people who have gone through the same thing but they don’t have photographs to look through to help them relive all those fun memories they had with their pet?’

Pawparazzi was started soon after Pax passed away, in a college cafeteria, with the idea that we would help families capture precious moments of their pets, moments which will then become beautiful invaluable memories.

Follow your heart– it knows the way
I always had a passion for photography. I’m glad that my family has always been so supportive and it is the creative genes I get from them that reflect in my work!

My parents bought me a tiny point and shoot camera when I was in 8th grade. I would take part in various school photography competitions. I won the 1st prize in one of the competitions and my interest kept growing. When I was in 10th grade, I saved up enough money to pay for a camera and a lens, after which, I won an international photography competition and got Rs 1 lakh as prize.

Finally when we got our first dog Pax, I couldn’t stop taking photos of him. A camera was always pointed at him and he loved it.

I realised that I was able to capture his personality or crux of a moment in just that one photograph and tell a story through it and I think that’s where the passion came from.

Balancing my work with love and joy!
I absolutely love getting to know the pet. Each one has his own unique personality and facial expressions that only the pet parents can understand. It is so interesting to get to know the dog or cat from their perspective and not just an outsider.

I get to know their quirky traits or funny stories and it just takes the sessions and relationship to a whole new level.

But my favourite part would have to be the pets’ adoption story. How they were rescued, what their transformation is like, and how they have completely changed the lives of their humans!

The road is not always easy
I do sometimes get clients who have indies who have come with certain trauma due to which the shoot may take longer, or the dog is aggressive and doesn’t like people coming close to them. But I don’t really see these as challenges; it’s like an added step that I take to develop the understanding with the pet.

For Indies or dogs with trauma, I always have a meeting one week prior to the shoot date for them to get comfortable with me and my equipment. I let them take their time to understand that the equipment won’t hurt them or isn’t that scary. For aggressive dogs, using a zoom lens works the best.

I once had a shoot in which an Indie was terrified of my camera and would just run away every time I came close to her, so I needed to hide under blankets and make weird noises to get her attention! AND IT WORKED WONDERS!

How do you bond with pet parent?
Literally all we have to do is talk about our pets and there’s an instant connection.

We take out our phones and start exchanging photos and stories about how cute and funny our pets are!

The bond I have with my clients is very personal. They are involved in the ideation process from the start and the whole process is very collaborative.

How to take a ‘paw’fect shot?
For pet parents looking to take photos of their pets at home, the best time to take photos is between 12-4 pm. The light is very nice and soft inside the house. Your pet should be in a good mood. The perfect window is after a quick 10 minute play session and when they’re slightly hungry. That’s when they’ll actually work for the treat and pose how you want them to. Go down to their eye level. Don’t shoot from above looking down, because then they end up looking like blobs of fur. Use a toy or funny noises to get them to look at you or the camera. And most importantly, capture your pet’s personality, what they do during the day, their expressions etc.

Capturing the essence to get the right feel
Everything plays an equal part in making the photograph beautiful – the location, the colour scheme, the light, timing of the day, mood of the dog. But I pay most attention to capturing the personality of the pet and the relationship they share with their ‘hoomans’.

Emotion is a universal language that every species understands, and without emotion, the photograph is just flat. It needs to make people smile, cry, and laugh, and it always needs to bring back a memory for the pet parents.

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