It’s a sunny Sunday morning in Lodhi Garden. With his coat freshly conditioned, and his couture collar gracing his neck, Buzo is all set to oblige the photographer with his cutest, swoon-inducing looks. After all, it is his first portfolio shoot! He is going to join the gang of uber stylish, gourmet-eating, and couture-flaunting dogs. And if he gets lucky, he might land up a modelling assignment or two.
Pet portfolio has become a popular trend in Delhi, with a number of owners getting their ‘babies’ shot by professional photographers. And some of the dogs, in turn, are making their ‘parents’ proud by landing up in print ads, commercials and music videos. The social media too, has given the trend a big boost.
Akhil Verma, photographer, says, “People want to take stylish pictures of their pets that start trending on the social media. Besides, people love their pets like their own babies and since their lifespan is short, a portfolio is an ideal way to keep their memories alive.”
Creating a pet portfolio requires a lot of advance planning and brainstorming. Meher Malhotra Kamat, who specialises in pet portfolios, says, “Right from the backdrop to props, everything is planned in advance. Also, you have to ensure a very safe, friendly and comfortable environment. Each pet has a different quirks, so you don’t know how they will respond during the photoshoot. You need to break the ice, and bring them into their comfort zone. I try to meet the pet in advance, and spend time befriending it.”
Making a portfolio doesn’t come cheap though; the starting price of making a portfolio is around Rs 8,000 and can go up to Rs 15,000 - Rs 20,000. Once the portfolio is ready, some ‘parents’ send these pictures to leading pet modelling agencies in the city. Pranav Awasthi, director, Glitz, a city-based modelling agency says, “Many people send me pictures of their cats and dogs. I send them to ad agencies that often rope them in for print shoots and commercials.” The amount of money that the pet gets paid for ads depends on the brand they are shooting for. “It could be anything between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per shoot,” says Awasthi. Pets are also becoming a part of professional models’ portfolios. “Shooting a model’s portfolio with a pet makes it more interesting and natural. It helps the model emote better and helps avoid plastic poses” says Sam Abbasi, co-founder, Sky Models .
The client sends the brief to model co-ordinators, and the pets are shortlisted accordingly. Nitin Sarna, founder, Satin Model Agency says, “For indoor shoots, smaller dogs such as Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are used, where as for outdoor shoots, bigger breeds with free flowing hair such as cocker spaniel and golden retriever are preferred. We ensure that the owner is present at the shoot, and we keep a lot of goodies such as toys and treats to keep the pet entertained.”
However, one has to keep various other things in mind while clicking pets. Animal right activist Amritika Phool, says, “You must ensure that the pet does not have to face any kind of stress. Never apply any makeup on them, as it can be lead to allergic reactions. Also, if you are shooting with cats, don’t move them out of their comfort zone as they don’t like movement. They can become stressed,” cautions Phool.
Veteranian Dr Kunal Dev Sharma of Maxvet says applying nailpaint or making the pets wear cumbersome outfits must also be avoided at all costs. “Do not expect your pets to wear pretty outfits and ‘pose’. If a pet is not comfortable with leaving his home, shoot it in its comfort zone only. Also do not tie their pet’s fur with rubber band which can be disastrous if the pet ends up eating it,” says Dr Sharma.