Susannah Allen is a very talented photographer as well as a very nice
person. She was kind enough to answer several questions about the art
and difficulty of photographing pets--a skill that she has developed
into a lucrative business.
John P. Barker: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Susannah Allen: I am a pet photographer who hails from the East Coast. I moved to Colorado with my dog Chloe on a whim several years ago, and have settled down here nicely. I enjoy the mountains, being outdoors, running, hiking. I also love the East Coast and travel, so I try to get back there as often as possible.
JPB: How did you get into photography?
SA: I have always loved photography, ever since I got a Fisher Price Kodak camera when I was 7. I continued with it in high school and college, spending hours and hours in the darkroom. Back then, I remember my college professors saying digital would never become as popular as film--ha! After college, I photographed several weddings and did product photography before launching my pet business.
JPB: What made you choose animals as a topic for your art?
SA: I love animals, and I love my dog Chloe so much and so many of my friends have pets...I would just end up photographing all of these dogs and cats for fun. Chloe is really hard to photograph--she hates being in front of the camera. My cats are more natural.
JPB: What is the most difficult animal photo shoot you have experienced?
SA: I think all pet photo sessions have their challenges. Like Chloe, many dogs are camera shy, especially in a studio setting. Getting outside and playing with dogs makes it easier to get real photographs, while being in a studio environment is a lot more challenging. I am not a pet trainer, so I don't enjoy making dogs or cats "sit" and "stay". If an owner does that, I am happy to photograph it, but I would rather capture the animal being a bit more genuine. Oh, and photographing cats in a studio is a complete riot in general! With all of these images, you just never know exactly what you are going to capture, and you have to be okay with that!
JPB: Do you have any other pets?
SA: [Of course] I have my dog Chloe. She just turned 14. And two cats. I like to joke that Harry was my birthday present from the universe. Before I became self-employed, a co-worker heard him crying under a storage container at work on my birthday. Everyone said there was no way I was going to get that little kitten out from there, but I knew my boyfriend would be able to do it. And he did. We also have Pippa, a very cute but naughty cat. I adopted her from the Humane Society and they had originally named her Honey Badger. I should have realized what I was getting into.
JPB: If you could choose an animal as a pet (any animal, including fantasy critters), what would you choose?
SA: I am a dog person all the way! The cats crack me up, and one day I'd love to befriend a baby cow, but there is something about the companionship of a dog that just can't be replaced. Chloe is my navigator.
JPB: What types of equipment do you use? Is it old school, digital, etc.?
SA: I primarily shoot digital these days, Canon brand. I shoot with two camera bodies and a variety of lenses. I will augment with flashes if needed. For studio sessions, I have professional lighting equipment as well. I break out the film camera for fun on occasion, but typically not for pet photography.
JPB: Have you ever dabbled in doing video/film projects?
SA: Digital cameras these days come with great video capture. I have made a couple videos to get a bit familiar with these features, but haven't gotten too serious. I used to shoot only film, but it is so much more expensive than digital. If a client wanted to pay the added costs, I would definitely use it for their session.
JPB: What goals do you have for the future?
SA: To continue to do what I love. I am so fortunate to be able to do this!
My thanks to Susannah for the interview! For more information about Chloe Pet Photography, visit or contact any one of thse links: