Belinda Richards Podcast Episode 19

Perfecting Pet Photography with Belinda Richards

Belinda Richards Profile Image sat on chair with dog on lap
Belinda Richards

In episode 19 we focus on pet photography with one of the world’s top exponents of the genre. Australian photographer Belinda Richards has won many awards and titles for her work, including being The Society of Photographers overall photographer of the year in 2022. Belinda has worked with animals for many years and in different industries. Her time running a mobile dog grooming business and working for the local council in animal management have helped her to gain a deep insight into animal behaviour. She combines this extensive experience with her understanding of fine art and great camera skills to run an internationally renowned pet photography studio. 

All of this would have seemed unlikely in her childhood given her initial fear of dogs. But, she overcame it and developed a lifelong passion for them, eventually naming her studio after one of her former pets. Her background in animal welfare has equipped her with unique skills that she brings into her photography sessions, ensuring that animals feel comfortable and relaxed.

Belinda’s academic journey took her from the technical aspects of photography to aesthetics and fine art, all of which are evident in her work today. She is also interested in business and understands the importance of good marketing. Whether it is her competition images or finding new ways to reach new clients, Belinda is relentlessly creative. She builds in both the more profitable aspects of her work and time to create in order to keep both herself and her business healthy.

The combination of hard work, talent and a creative use of her unique skills and experience have made Belinda Richards one of the most respected pet photographers in the world. All of this comes from a place of passion – doing the work not just for money but for the love of it. 

All images © Belinda Richards

Belinda’s Frog Dog Studios website

Belinda’s website for her personal creative work –

You can also follow her on social media platforms under the handles @BelindaRichardsArtist or @FrogDogStudios

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Transcript of Belinda Richards Interview

Joe Lenton: Welcome to the Focused Professional podcast. Today we have a guest who’s all the way from Australia. She was the 2022 Society of Photographers overall photographer of the year. She’s won numerous categories and been a finalist in numerous categories numerous times. And she is a very well known pet photographer. This is the highly talented Belinda Richards. Hello, Belinda!

Belinda Richards: Hey, Joe, how are you going.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, good thanks. It’s great for you to be on the podcast. Thank you very much for accepting the invitation.

Belinda Richards: Oh, thank you so much for thinking of me. Yeah. Quite happy to be here. Thank you.

Joe Lenton: That’s great. So you know, with pets, I think you know, we’ve got to start with the obvious, silly question: which is best cats or dogs?

Belinda Richards: Oh, that’s the age, old question, isn’t it? I’m actually a big fan of both. I mean, if I had to choose you probably push me in the dog direction, just cause they can come with you everywhere.

Joe Lenton: Ah, yes.

Belinda Richards: I do love my cats as well, so.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, I’ve seen some people will take their cat for a walk. But I’ve said to my wife, I draw the line there.

Belinda Richards: Oh, look! I mean it’d be great if cats, most cats would do it, but unfortunately, most cats prefer to stay in their own you know, environment and get a bit scared of the big, wide world. So yeah, it’s a lot easier to take your dog for a walk down the street or take him to the cafe for a coffee. But yeah, most cats won’t be up for that.

Joe Lenton: I’m not sure but you know your studio is called “Frog Dog” – does that mean you’ve got a frog that you take for a walk as well? Or is it just the dogs?

Belinda Richards: No, I wish I did, though. I can’t imagine how many Instagram followers I could get. [laughs] So, Frog Dog studios comes from my previous dog. She’s passed away nearly 2 years ago now, but her name was Smushy, and she was a French bulldog, and she was a short, little stocky little thing, and she used to sit like a frog, so when I decided –

Joe Lenton: Okay.

Belinda Richards: Yeah, when I was coming up for names for the business that’s what I landed on. Yeah, you know, and it’s a bit different. You know I’m a bit branding focused with my business. So I feel like having that sort of unusual name has been really beneficial because people don’t forget Frog Dog studio. So, I imagine they would forget Belinda Richards photography.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, yeah. It’s a little bit more memorable, isn’t it? Sticks in the mind. So that’s a good strategy. I was wondering initially whether that was kind of your specialism: frogs and dogs, or…

Belinda Richards: No, no, I’ve never photographed a frog in the studio. So that’s – maybe I need to do that. I’ve never, ever. You know that here we are, 8 years down the track, and I’ve never even thought about that.

Joe Lenton: Ah, well, there you go!

Belinda Richards: There’s something to work towards!

Joe Lenton: There’s going to have to be a video at some point involving pictures of frogs and dogs. It’s just going to have to be done.

Belinda Richards: I think it will. I think you’re right. Possibly separately. We don’t want any dogs thinking that the frog’s a tasty treat, you know.

Joe Lenton: No, no! We don’t have as many frogs in the garden anymore, unfortunately cause our our cats like to chase them so… But they’re handy to have frogs, definitely. They’re very useful. They get rid of other pests, but

Belinda Richards: Yes, they do, and they’re cute.

Joe Lenton: Have you always loved animals, then, of all types? Is that something that has always been with you?

Belinda Richards: Yeah, yes and no. So it’s funny. When I was a kid I was extremely frightened of dogs. I had an uncle growing up who was very much into dogs – dog crazy. But he always had German Shepherds and Rottweilers so quite large dogs. And every time we would see him my mom would tell me to stay away from the dogs, and I think that instilled a fear in me.

But as I got a bit older I got to about 10 or 11, I think I was, and my aunty – my Mom’s family all lives in Northern Ireland. So that’s quite a trip, you know, to see them. And I’d never actually –  they finally came to visit us. And this is like 1990 or something like that. So it was quite a big deal and while they were here I begged my aunty to buy me a dog, thinking there’s no way she’s gonna buy me a dog. Well, she bought me a dog! And that was when the love of yeah, my animals kind of really started.

Yeah, I was always bringing home stray cats. Frogs I used to catch a lot, actually, because I grew up in the country. So we used to catch frogs and breed the tadpoles and all that sort of stuff. So yeah, I’ve just always been an animal person. Once I sort of got over that fear of dogs. Yeah, I’ve been in love with them ever since, and I’ve I’ve been working with them now since 2001. So yeah, it’s, you know, 23 years or something like that I’ve been been working with them. And it’s – yeah they’re just really special to me in my life. Yeah, and I think that I will always work with them in some capacity or another.

Joe Lenton: They can have quite distinct personalities, can’t they, really? I mean, people often just sort of think, oh, it’s just a dog or it’s just a cat. But they can be very, very different, can’t they?

Belinda Richards: Oh, they can absolutely like I mean, I’ve had quite a few dogs now that have left us over the years, and obviously I keep, you know, bringing more into the family, and every single one of them has been different in in one way or another. It’s – they do, they have their very own personalities. The cats, too. I’ve had 2 cats now, and they’re both very, very different. And yeah, it’s just it’s quite lovely having them around, and they’re just some of these magical creatures to me that just bring this happiness and warmth into a home. You know I don’t have children – by choice – and having my animals around, yeah, it’s this like this little person that I don’t, you know, it’s just a bit easier to look after too, to be quite honest.

Joe Lenton: They are. Yeah, I think cats at times can be a bit like toddlers. But the handy thing being, you can leave them on their own, and they’ll look after themselves.

Belinda Richards: That’s exactly right, and you know nobody calls child services on you! So… [laughs]

Joe Lenton: Yeah, definitely. Did you find you needed any training to handle animals at all? Or is it – did you naturally just bond with animals as you spent time with them?

Belinda Richards: So that 1st dog that we got as a kid became very attached – both of us were attached to each other, but he was my dog, you know. I was the only person who could take his food away, you know, things like that. He just became my responsibility, and I think ever since then I think it’s a natural thing that I have.

Obviously, over the last 23 years or so I’ve learned an awful lot because I’ve worked – I initially started out working as a mobile dog groomer in 2001. I did that for about 7 years. I’ve worked in welfare here for many, many years. I worked at the lost dogs home. I used to do their emergency services. So I’ve worked in a council role as animal management officer. So I’ve worked in every capacity there. So from, you know, having a lot of fun with them here in the studio, and it’s all light and good times to the really dark side of pet ownership and, you know, having to deal with animals that are neglected or not being treated properly. Or, you know, if even just picking them up after they’ve been hit by a car and stuff like that. So, you know, you tend to develop these skills over time.

And I mean one of the things that I used to attend to a lot is there like doing the emergency services stuff  for the Council was going out to dog attacks and dogs that people couldn’t control. They were on the loose, and they were angry and things like that. So you tend to learn a lot about dog behaviour and psychology by immersing yourself in that world, I guess. And it’s also for your own safety. So I always suggest that, you know, whenever I’m sort of training new pet photographers or mentoring to – if you if you haven’t had any interaction with animals other than the family pet it’s a really good idea to try and get some of that experience. Whether it is going and doing a course, or whether it’s volunteering at your local shelter, or, you know, doing a much more in depth training with your own pet to to just learn more about the subjects that you’re dealing with.

Because I think that for me that intuitive natural response with animals is why I get the images that I do with my – with the clients that come into my studio. I think it’s because I mean, 1st of all, I know how to behave around them, to make them feel comfortable and welcome and at ease, which then allows the dog to then open up and give me the personality that the owner wants to see in their photos. So yeah, I think for me, like I said, it’s a bit of a mixture of both. It’s natural ability, but it’s also years of being immersed in in a world where I’ve kinda had to learn these things. Yeah. That was a long answer, wasn’t it?

Joe Lenton: I can imagine that – it seems to me you’re almost at polar opposites of where you started with your animal welfare. Because, you know, now with you’re seeing so hopefully well maintained, well looked after, pets coming into your studio, coming from a loving environment, and that whereas animal welfare I mean.. that – Tell us a little bit about with, you know, without telling too many horror stories. But tell us a little bit about what that was like even working in that sort of environment.

Belinda Richards: So I was working here for the largest pound. I guess it wasn’t, really, it’s not a rescue as such. It’s a pound/shelter. It’s basically where your dog goes if it gets picked up on the street. Here in Melbourne in a lot of the metropolitan Melbourne. So if your dog gets out, council comes and gets it that this is where it would end up. So it’s not a rescue as such, and I know – the main difference between that is that when you’re working as a rescue, you are taking in animals that need to be rehomed consistently. They might have behavioural problems and that sort of thing, and they’ve usually come from the pound or the shelter. So if they haven’t already, you know if they haven’t been able to be rehomed at the pound or the shelter then they’ll go off to the smaller rescue groups to hopefully get more rehabilitation there.

So it’s sort of the 1st port of call, I guess, for animals that are being seized as well. You know, I attended a lot of you know, house searches, I guess, where there’s dogs there – because the police here in Australia are not trained to deal with animals. So they call us to come and do that. So then if the dog is seized because they’re doing a drug raid or something like that. That sort of thing we used to attend to a lot. We would attend to dogs hit by cars, or anything, you know, like maybe on the train tracks or all sorts of different things, you know. Even being called out to cows in people’s front yards in metro areas and that sort of thing, because we have people who like to get cows and that for Easter time, and then they cook them up. So you know, which is not allowed here in the city!

So it’s yeah, it’s – I have definitely seen some interesting stuff. I’ve seen some absolutely horrific things as well. But it, you know, you’re sort of seeing the best and the worst of humanity working in these environments. And I mean people who do it long term it affects you after a while. It’s when, you know, for me it was a conscious decision to get out of welfare, in the end. And that’s when I decided to do my university degree – I did an arts degree. And I was actually walking away from the whole animal industry altogether. I just I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was just exhausting.

And after I did that, all I you know you do your university degree, and then you’ve got to pay for it right? So that’s when I ended up working at the Council. So doing their animal management. And yeah, I did that for a while and then decided, well, I don’t actually really wanna be away from animals. I just wanna be away from the horror of some of the things that happen to animals. So that’s when I decided, well, I’m gonna take photos of dogs. And it turns out I was really good at it.

Joe Lenton: Well, yeah, it makes sense, I think, trying to get away from some of the darker sides of things like that. And I can only imagine that, you know, days of that is gonna put an emotional strain on you. And trying to do that for year after year is is gonna be difficult.

Belinda Richards: It is.

Joe Lenton: So you know, in a sense, now you’re enjoying the happier side of the relationships with the animals.

Belinda Richards: Certainly am, absolutely. It’s such a – it’s a real joy. And I am so grateful for the life that me and my husband have created here with Frog Dog Studios. And it’s yeah, we I mean, I just couldn’t ask for anything better, to be honest. I’m so happy with the way things have turned out, even if it wasn’t originally what I was going for.

Joe Lenton: Yeah. And the animal grooming business that you did as well for a while, I mean, did it, did that kind of then run into the photography a bit? Cause it – you almost sort of imagine I know with people sometimes they get themselves dolled up a bit, you know, before they’re gonna have a shoot, and that. Is that something that you’ve combined at all? That kind of bit of pampering and then a shoot?

Belinda Richards: No. Not really. No. So when I was grooming so that was in the early 2000s, pet photography really wasn’t a thing at all. It was – people thought I was crazy driving around to people’s homes and grooming the dogs, and thought I’d never make any money. But I certainly showed them! 

But now that I – the reason why I gave up the grooming is because it’s so physically demanding. And I actually have a degenerative disk disease in my back. So and that’s come from the years of grooming. And I’ve had to, yeah, I basically had to stop doing that. So I sold the business. 

But what I do here now, where I am just a couple of doors down, because I’m in a main street. I have. – there’s a groomer who is very well known in Melbourne as well, and I try to send my clients to her first and then they come down for their photo shoot. So she primps and preens them, and then I capture them.

Joe Lenton: That sounds like a very good partnership, really that. Yeah.

Belinda Richards: Yeah, it is. It is yeah. And it all came before she opened up the dog grooming business. That started out with her just bringing her dogs to me to be photographed first. So it’s, yeah, was meant to be.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, it looks like it. So the photography side of things. You went and got some – did some formal study. Got some formal training.

Belinda Richards: I did.

Joe Lenton: What prompted you to actually go that route?

Belinda Richards: So when I first finished up high school, going to Uni wasn’t really an option for me. I didn’t have the money. Doing an arts degree also, wasn’t really, you know, “get a real job! You’re never gonna make any money doing that sort of thing.”

Joe Lenton: Yeah.

Belinda Richards: So I did. And then, when I decided to go back, go to, you know, decided to break away from the welfare industry and I was looking at – I was like, well, if I’m gonna go and do study, I want to study something to do with art. And I started out doing a diploma in photography, and it’s I started that when I was 30. So I did that for 2 years, completed that, and then got accepted to a fine art degree at RMIT here in Melbourne and I did that for the next 3 years. So doing, that has been, yeah, it’s been an amazing experience. And I never actually thought how much impact that fine art degree would actually have on my creativity, and how I think and see the world now. But I’m, yeah, I’m really glad that I did something like that. 

But it did – it was a moment of – it really was – it was I tend to do these things in my life just out of nowhere. I’ll get this idea, and it’s got to be done. And that was what the photography was like. It literally came to me one night – this is what I want to do. You know, I don’t know what I want to photograph, you know. But I want to make art and I want to use a camera doing it. So, that’s sort of where I started, and it’s just sort of evolved from there. That’s been 13 years now or so.

Joe Lenton: So that, was that then learning the technical aspects of photography and learning bits about lighting and post production? Is that what your courses involved?

Belinda Richards: Yeah. So the initial course, the diploma is all your technical stuff. I mean, when I first started doing this, I’d never even held an SLR camera. Yeah, so it’s it has helped me in informing the technical aspects of what I do, but also that all that darkroom stuff helped me with Photoshop, because Photoshop is the dark room, right? And a lot of it is, you know, if you understand what you’re doing in the dark room, you can bring that pretty much into Photoshop as well. So that was what I spent the first 2 years doing. And then once I sort of had a good, yeah, like, it’s a 2, that’s a 2 year technical course, I guess. And then I went into the fine art degree, which was no technical and all arty-farty stuff, basically.

Joe Lenton: So did you follow particular artists, then? Is that how you developed through your fine art degree? Do you get introduced to particular artists that you then…

Belinda Richards: Yeah, absolutely we do. So – and I think that was probably how I’m able to think outside of the box now with photographing dogs and cats and animals altogether. So it rather than sort of just pointing my camera and taking a portrait I try to tell a story with my work. And I think that, yeah, doing that art degree and learning how to critique art and how to read art and follow different artists and see why they are choosing the choices that they choose when they’re actually creating their works and things like that. And really understanding that sort of thing has really helped, I think, in helping me push my thought process. Yeah. So I, yeah, it’s been an interesting journey, actually. Yeah.

So it’s actually a funny story. When I was in, I think, like my second or third year of Uni, I can’t remember exactly when. But my University lecturer showed us a whole bunch of David Edmondson’s work.

Joe Lenton: Oh!

Belinda Richards: And we talked about, you know, the Hopper-esque-ness  of his work and the lighting, and you know the story telling and all that sort of thing behind it. And then, when I actually, I mean years later, I’ve come into this world, and I have met David now. I met him at WPPI quite a few years ago, and was able to say to him, how – this is so weird and random, because, you know, I you know a lot of the time in art history and things like that you’re studying people they’re already gone. They’ve already passed on. And then, you know, I was at WPPI, and I was like, “oh, my God! That’s that guy!” And being able to go up to somebody and speak to them. And then, yeah, it was a really surreal experience.

Joe Lenton: I bet. Yeah.

Belinda Richards: Yeah. And he happened to judge one of my images that WPPI and gave it a hundred. I was like, “wow, this is pretty good!”

Joe Lenton: You decided you liked him from then on, yeah.

Belinda Richards: Well, yeah, it was a very interesting – it was a great experience, that’s for sure. But yeah, from Uni to real life was really nice.

Joe Lenton: Was it just photographers that you studied? Or did you study other art forms as well with the fine art?

Belinda Richards: I only created using photography. I did do a little bit of print making and things like that. But it’s just sort of it was more just experimental stuff. But my main goal has always been photography. But I don’t generally follow photographers as artists, to be quite honest. I’m generally looking at painting, movies, TV shows, like, that are like using creative lighting, creative moods. Like, thinking, you know, where you can see the intention in what they’ve chosen to do, I guess. Like, in different sort of TV shows and things like that. 

You know, like, a few years ago there was a TV show called True Detective with, I think the fist season had Matthew McConaughey in it, or something like that I can’t entirely remember. But the opening sequence on that was just stunning and just studying that and looking at the colour palette, and why things were placed where they were and the compositional elements, and that sort of thing. That’s the kind of thing that inspires me. I love to see something different. I love to see a story. 

So yeah, I generally don’t follow other pet photographers too much at all. I mean, obviously, I’ve got some friends and stuff like that. We’re all friends on Facebook. I see their work and things like that. But it’s not something that I’ll sit down and study. I prefer, yeah, that cinematic sort of style. 

Joe Lenton: It helps you to develop your own look to your images rather than just seeing you know that you’re a derivative of somebody else. I mean, we’re all influenced by somebody. You can’t, you kind of can’t help that. But it’s nice to look outside of the norm. 

Belinda Richards: It is.

Joe Lenton: I mean, I’ve said to people before my background initially was in languages. I was a linguist. So the way that I now tend to look at images is often kind of from that perspective. It’s saying something. So I’m picking it a little bit like that, and thinking, well, what kind of lighting, what kind of colours do I want in there to create a particular mood, a particular feeling? And, you know, so I was influenced in my photography by my background as a linguist. So all these things come together and feed together to help make you, you know, an individual artist.

Belinda Richards: Absolutely. I think it’s really important to keep yourself as an individual artist and bringing,  embracing your own personality, the quirks and all of it, and bringing that with you and using that to develop your own style and voice is really important. You know the world is full of photographers, and if you want to be a leader in that, doing what other people do is probably gonna stifle you a little bit. If you’re just like I really like what that person does. So I’m going to learn how to do that style. I mean, that’s great if you just wanna do client work, and you’re gonna make money, and you know, churn and burn sort of stuff. You know, that that can work. 

But if you’ve got a creative itch, if you’re a creative person like me, you’re constantly wanting to push the boundaries, and you can’t do that by, you know, looking at something that inspires you and going, I’m just gonna learn how to do that. You need to go, “what is it about that that inspires me? What are they – what have they done here that makes me want to do that as well?” And just take a little bit of that, and then bring something else from somewhere else, or you know, from your own background or your own stories, your own history and mash it all together. And you know, hopefully, then you’ve created something that’s somewhat original, you know. And it’s like you said, it’s really hard to be original these days. I mean, it’s all been done before, and it’s all out there on the Internet for everybody to see, right?

Joe Lenton: Yeah.

Belinda Richards: It’s just sort of like, try – if you really consciously try and just take the inspiration. So yes, I really like that colour palette that person used, or I haven’t done that pose before with a dog, or, you know, whatever. And then just kind of bring those little elements in, and try and make it your own, you know, like with the images that I’ve been creating over the last couple of years, where I’m documenting animals like growing up from, you know, babies to to 12 months old. I mean, that’s not an original idea. That’s something that I mean has been done for forever. And but the way that I present it and the way that I try and tell that story is different each time. So I’m not even copying myself each time you know what I mean, because otherwise I’m not pushing myself. I’m not creating something new. It’s like you’ve gotta try and just yeah, just try and put your own spin on it. Put your own personality into it.

Joe Lenton: So do you think it’s then, from things like movies that you developed your more sort of storyboarding kind of style? So where you’ve got multiple images together that suggest a story like that. So, is that where that came from?

Belinda Richards: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I’ve never really thought about exactly where that idea came from. I just I know the first one that I did was the pug catching food and that was literally taken in a series of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 shots like it was just high shutter, you know, really fast and it was – and I got that sequence in a couple of seconds. And I was like, “this is amazing!” And that’s and this is how I’m gonna present it. And I did that, and then I sort of when I’m starting to do other work I’m like, well, you know, how can this story be told? And sometimes that is beneficial, you know, having those little tiny individual stories that make up a whole story that can really bring the work together. So, yeah. And then, funnily enough, I’ve actually consciously moved away from that with the work that I’m creating this year. I thought I need to give that a break.

Joe Lenton: There’s a risk that you start to get known as the person that does that, you know. So when an image in that style comes up, and then people start to copy you

Belinda Richards: Yes.

Joe Lenton: And then judges see it, and they think, oh, they assume it’s one of yours, or whatever.

Belinda Richards: That’s right.

Joe Lenton: It’s yeah, it’s tricky when you come up with something that is fairly distinctive looking like that. It will get copied.

Belinda Richards: Yes, yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s a shame. But I mean its not even a shame. I mean, it’s quite the compliment if somebody’s trying to do what you’re doing, I guess. I would like to encourage people to like I said, be inspired by what I do or what they like, and try and push, try and push it a bit further, because if they push it a bit further, then I might push it a bit further next time, you know. Then we all just get better.

Joe Lenton: Exactly. I think we we all benefit in that way. We keep innovating. It’s good for us. So would you say, then that creativity is your main motivator? Is that the main thing that gets you going? Or is there something else that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Belinda Richards: Yeah, look, I love business as well and I love my clients. But they are expecting a product from me. And so I have a product that I deliver, and it’s a distinctive style that’s mine. But I don’t do a lot of the stuff that I do say for competitions and stuff for my clients. There’s 2 – there’s a couple of reasons for that. First of all, I like to have creative freedom, and occasionally I will get clients that will let me do that which is amazing. But most of the time they just want the product that, you know, they see on my website or on my Instagram. So turning that out, you know, over and over and over again can become quite draining. I mean, anyone who does anything, you know, like they’re on a hamster wheel gets over it eventually. 

So what I’ve done here basically is, I’ve tried to create this business that creates enough money for me and my husband so that we can, you know, have the life that we want, but in the least amount of time possible, so that the rest of the time I have time to create because that’s when I’m at my absolute, happy, happiest. And one of the great things is that I’ve been able to intertwine both because what I do during client session is, I get everything that I need, knowing that this is what the client wants, and so then I can go on to have the the IPS [in person sales – ed] appointment and and choose their images and create their wall-art. But at the end of that session, if the dog’s still got steam or the cat’s still got steam, and I see something special in that dog we just play around, and that’s where I get most of my competition images from.  

So like that – like I, said the one, the pug, with catching the treats that, you know, the dog looked like a Pixar character, and I was like, I have got to get something that shows this dog’s personality, and that’s what we came up with. You know, of all the ones that are the growing up sessions – they’re all clients. Some of them I – have let me just go ahead and make the artwork for them. They don’t have any input into it, and then they get it, and they’re, you know, very happy. Most of them I will just do the stock standard, you know the book with them growing up or whatever, and then I take images later on, and I’ll do my own thing with it. And then I usually just send them a file or something like that. So that they, you know, and they’re happy with that as well. 

So it’s kind of yeah, it’s a great way to sort of integrate it, because I have this constant stream of different animals coming into the studio. And it’s the surprising ones that they, the surprises that you get sometimes that make the best images you know. You can plan out these amazing shoots and get props. And you know the story that you want to tell or whatever. But it’s the ones that come in here and then they just give you a surprising facial expression, or they they do a trick that you’ve never seen a dog do before, or something like that. And then, you know, you could come up with a concept around that’s inspired or informed by the actual subject. So yeah, that’s it’s sort of tried to create this world where I’m still able to actually create at least one day a week.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, I think it’s good for you, because if when you have got that sort of creativity at heart, if you don’t, you can soon start to fall out of love with it when you’re just going through the motions of

Belinda Richards: Yeah.

Joe Lenton: The mechanics of it. So, especially if you can connect it with an actual client session and do it on the end. It’s a bit like I might do with a product sometimes. As you take the shots that you know they want, and then you take 2 or 3 extra ones that are a bit quirky. They might see that and think, oh, actually, I’ll have a copy of that.

Belinda Richards: Yeah.

Joe Lenton: If they don’t, well, at least you’ve got something you can play with.

Belinda Richards: Exactly right. You’ve scratched that itch, you know, to create something a bit different as well. And I think it’s really important if you’re, you know, creatively minded to really nurture that because that then gives – I know for me, if I don’t have a chance to actually sit down and work on my own personal projects on a regular basis it sucks the life out of me, and therefore I don’t take the energy into my actual professional business and the clients that I deal with on a daily basis. I don’t take the good energy with me, so kind of need to nurture both. Which is one of the reasons why I do competition, because once I’ve created all this stuff it’s like, well, what am I gonna do with it now? Get it out there, you know.

Joe Lenton: Might as well win another award with it. Yeah.

Belinda Richards: Just put it out there, you know. Otherwise, nobody sees it, you know. So, I mean, I initially started off doing competition to push myself. And I still, I mean, that’s still a really good main reason why I do it, because it also gives you a reason to create. But I actually initially started doing it to help my business grow and get traction, and to also just get into, like, a community of people in the photography industry, because I wasn’t part of that previously. So that was a really great way of getting recognition for the business and getting gaining client trust and things like that.

Joe Lenton: So you’ve found it has actually helped directly with your clients, then, having the awards?

Belinda Richards: Absolutely. So just about every animal that I’ve had that’s in in any of my images, especially in the beginning were all clients. And there were ones that were informed by a look or something that the dog had given me during the session. So, taking that – being successful with it is obviously a key thing here, because people love to attach themselves to success. And that – I mean, if you’re if your dog or your kid is a subject in an award winning photograph, I mean, that’s something that makes them very proud and excited. And you know, like I said, I always give them a copy of it, and things like that. 

So then they talking to people, and then, you know, if you’ve got that success in your – if you get into the paper, and it’s there, “oh my dog’s in the paper,” you know. I send them the links to all of the stories online and things like they talk to everybody about it. And now people have got to know me as that person as well. That, yes, I am that award-winning photographer. And they come to me for that. And it’s yeah I know a lot of photographers say that it doesn’t actually help them with their business, but I completely disagree with that I think that it has not only helped my confidence, but it’s helped my clients have confidence in me, and therefore they talk about me, and you know if they’re talking about you, that’s awesome.

Joe Lenton: Well word of mouth is invaluable, isn’t it? You know, if you can get word of mouth going, then that’s the best thing.

Belinda Richards: Absolutely.

Joe Lenton: That’s the best way of your business being promoted. And yeah, and if you haven’t got to start it, if they’re doing it off their own back, you know, they wanna – they’re excited, so they want to share it. That’s absolutely ideal for you.

Belinda Richards: That is, it is. And I mean, it’s really not that hard to get your dog images into local papers, and you know, to get recognition for stuff like that. Everybody wants to look at dog images. So why not use it? Leverage it? And yeah, so if I keep doing that, and then the clients keep coming in, then they keep paying me for that – I can keep creating. It’s just a nice little circle.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, all feeds in nicely. Yeah. So, what about then with the business side of it? I mean, you kind of hinted at earlier that you don’t mind that, because some photographers, when they go into the business side of things, some feel a bit lost and some just feel downright bored because they’ve got to deal with numbers. And they’ve got structures and all these kind of things that they don’t necessarily wanna have to fit into. So how is – what’s your relationship like with business, and do you have to bring any kind of creativity into it to make it bearable for you?

Belinda Richards: I think, yes, I do have to bring creativity to it. And I do that through my marketing, and I’ve always – I mean this isn’t my first business. I had the dog grooming business was my 1st business, and I did that quite successfully for about 7 years, and then I had a Subway franchise as well. So I’ve sort of been in business most of my adult life, and this is just the next step for me. I was a bit lost in the beginning. I’ve never had a photography business. And they certainly don’t teach you about that at art School, that’s for sure. So yes it was daunting. But I knew enough to ask for help and I think that’s a big thing, you know. 

One of the first things that I did, as soon as I could afford it, was I employed the services of Mark Rosetto, who I noticed was on the podcast recently. So you know that he was with me right at the beginning, and we spent a lot of time together, you know. Obviously, like I said, I had an idea of what I was doing, but I needed actual real direction from somebody who knew – who had lived and breathed it. And Mark, helped me with that. And so that was probably the best thing that I like the best knowledge that I had was that I knew I needed to ask for help. And I think that’s sometimes, yeah, sometimes it takes people a long time to ask for help, and they struggle through it for years before they go, “oh there’s actually somebody out there who could help me with this.” So, yeah, instead of spending 5 grand on a camera. I spent 5 grand on getting Mark to help me. So I think that sort of helped a lot in the beginning. 

But with the – when I had the dog grooming business, one of the things that I found there was how to get creative with marketing. So we’re talking about a time with no social media or anything like that. So it was just being at every event you possibly can be at. Anything that’s free cause you know, you also don’t have a whole lot of money. You know, you can’t be paying thousands of dollars. It’s a dog grooming business. It’s, you know, it’s got a limit on how much money you can make so there’s a limit on how much money you can spend. And just one of the things that I did was just get creative with things. And that’s what I did when I opened up Frog Dog Studios. So just that was probably my strong point is figuring out my branding and my messaging and then figuring out and getting creative with my marketing.

And I’ve told this story before when I’ve done talks. But one of the best things I ever did is I sat here one day and I was like that’s like 2 months into this. And you know, I’ve had a handful of clients, but definitely not enough. What am I gonna do? So obviously here in Victoria Australian rules football is really really popular. I went to my friends. I borrowed their football jumpers. I put them on my dogs at home. I took photos of them. I Photoshopped them into football grounds and I sent them to the biggest newspaper here in Victoria. And they rang me within 15 minutes. And that Saturday I was on half page on the second page, and then a full spread in the middle of the paper of my artwork, and I just haven’t looked back since, really. So it’s, you know, it wasn’t – it was just an idea off the cuff at the end of the day. It cost me no money, and just just my time, and that launched everything for me from there.

Joe Lenton: You never really know what’s gonna work. I mean, sometimes people can suggest things that’ve worked for them. But they don’t work for you, for whatever reason, and so on. It, it can be quite difficult finding that combination of things, or just finding something that kicks something off, I mean. Presumably you’ve had marketing -well, let’s not call them failures, but sort of things you’ve tried that haven’t gone as well as you might have hoped?

Belinda Richards: Yeah, absolutely. And you learn, I find, with things that haven’t worked is then you need to figure out why don’t just throw it aside. You need to figure out why. So initially, in that 1st year of business I signed up to do what we call the Dog Lovers show here. So there’s about 40,000 people come through the exhibition buildings on a weekend over 3 days. It’s, you know, it cost you quite a lot of money to be there. But I found the money, and I did it, and it didn’t actually get me clients that 1st time, like I thought it would, right. But it was my 1st expo. I didn’t know what I was doing that well. I’m quite an introverted person around people I don’t know, so I’m not the ideal person to be talking to people, and I didn’t have the confidence. 

But I’ve done that now every single year since then. So we’ve done it for 6 years, 7 years in a row. Aside from the years of Covid that it didn’t happen. And now I know exactly what I’m doing, why, it didn’t work the 1st time; why, it was a little bit better the second time, 3rd time, and it just got better and better. And now that is the only marketing I do every single year, because it fills my calendar for the entire year. So it’s sometimes I think, that a little bit of perseverance and analysis and critical thinking about why something isn’t working and trying again is definitely needed to make these things work.

Joe Lenton: Yeah. I was gonna say, some people might think well, if it especially if it’s a more expensive form of marketing if I’ve tried it and I haven’t got results, move on. I’ll do something else. But you’ve found, actually, you know, strategically, you’d worked out that this was something that would work in the longer term. It was something that, you know, for various reasons, would need to be done more than once.

Belinda Richards: Well, absolutely.

Joe Lenton: It can be a difficult decision to make sometimes.

Belinda Richards: It can be, and I mean I didn’t have the money for it, especially the 1st few years, you know. So I would put it on the credit card and hope and pray that I would make enough money back to pay for it as I was going. Now I don’t need to do that, which is great. I have the money set aside for that every year, and and whatnot. But I wouldn’t be able to do that if I hadn’t of just persevered. So the reason why I persevered and kept making that decision to go back is because I’m looking at this show that is bringing in millions of dollars over 3 days, and the big companies are all there, and they’re there every single year. And then there’s the same sort of medium, and small companies that are there every single year. 

And yes, you do see the ones that come and go. They’ll do it one year, throw their hands up and never come back all that sort of stuff. But it’s the people who are constantly showing up and tweaking things, and people come looking for my stand now, because they know that I’m gonna have a rip roaring special on. And they saw us and talk to us the before and the year before that. And they wanna know about you know how you’re doing and all that sort of stuff. And they’re finally ready to book in. And it’s just consistency, I think, with things like that. And I think that’s like with any marketing, really; consistency is key. I mean, you know you can’t sort of just show up once. Throw your hands up and move on. It’s yeah, perseverance.

Joe Lenton: Is, would you say relationships are an important aspect of it for your type of photography as well? Sort of relation to clients, or forming those relationships.

Belinda Richards: Well, yeah, I guess so. I mean, I don’t – it’s not something that I concentrate on a lot. But I do make friends with a lot of my clients like, you know, acquaintances, friends like people that do when I do go to the Dog Lovers show they come and find me, say, “hi! How are you going? Tell me all about how the dogs doing”,  that sort of thing. And while they’re here in the studio I really do try to make them feel comfortable. Obviously the dog and the people, and it’s all a very friendly and relaxed experience. So there are those relationships definitely that are, they’re worthwhile nurturing and even just – and nurturing them afterwards, I mean, I know we’ve all got email lists and things like that. But just, you know, following your clients on Instagram. And then, when their dog pops up and it’s their birthday giving it a “happy birthday,” you know. Everybody else reads the comments, sees that you’ve done that, you know. And I think if it comes from a place of genuine, you know, love, or whatever you wanna call it, it’s important, you know. Sort of like I said it’s not something I think about too much. I just do it.

Joe Lenton: Yeah. Well, if it’s coming naturally, then, that’s great, really. Yeah, because I mean, yeah, for so many people trying to get into that rhythm of finding the way that their business is gonna work can be a can be a real struggle can be a bit of a fight. They’ll try one thing. They’ll try something else, and they’ll think, “do I persevere with it, do I not?” And people can be very uncertain in that time, and spend a lot of money and not feel like they’re getting very far.

Belinda Richards: Yeah.

Joe Lenton: So, do I need to – you know, if I’m going to be a pet photographer, yes I need treats for the animals. But do I need treats for the owners to keep them happy? And all that kind of thing. There’s a lot that you can potentially disappear off down a rabbit hole and get obsessed with and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Belinda Richards: You can. And I see this quite a lot within Facebook business groups and things like that. “Should I do this? Should I do that? I’m making these welcome packs and I’m making these things, packs to put in when I give them their order” and that sort of thing. And that’s not where your focus should be, in my opinion. I think what you should be doing is focusing on the experience that you’re giving that client when they actually do come to see you, you know. It’s always – who doesn’t like a little trinket? Obviously, yes, we all do. But most of the time those little trinkets end up in the bin. Even fridge magnets these days. People don’t use them. We’ve got everything that we need on our phone. I don’t, I haven’t had a business card for 7 years. Because if somebody asked me for my business card, I tell them to open up Instagram, and there I am right there, you know. That’s how you can get hold of me. A business card goes into a pocket or wallet, or in the bin.

Joe Lenton: Yeah.

Belinda Richards: And nobody, you know, uses it again, and it’s the same with all those sort of little, you know, adding those little things to orders and that. Yes, they’re nice, but that’s not why your clients are going to come back. They’re going to come back because they remember how you made them feel, and how like, in my case, how I made their animal feel as well, which makes the owner feel amazing. So concentrate more on those things and those things are free!

Joe Lenton: You can’t substitute the genuineness and those sorts of things which you can do for free with the kind of bought extras. 

Belinda Richards: Yeah.

Joe Lenton: That doesn’t really work. If it hasn’t been an enjoyable session, they’re not suddenly going to love you because you’ve given them a mug with a picture on it, or something.

Belinda Richards: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And I mean, we deal with animals here. We can’t control how the animal’s gonna behave. And if they’re gonna be frightened, or if it’s – it might not always be a positive experience. I mean 99% of the time it’s a wonderful experience. But occasionally you’ll just get a dog in here who just you cannot settle it. It’s just not going to work. But what you’d like to – how you’ve treated that client and along that whole way and treated that dog is what they’re gonna remember you for. And although you didn’t get any images to actually sell to the client, they’ve paid their session fee. You’ve done your best. You’ve treated the client with respect and love the whole way through. You’ve loved on the dog, and done everything you possibly can to to get this like not forcing this dog to do so, but to help this dog get over its fear. 

And that’s what your clients remember. You know, they they don’t go away and go, “oh, she didn’t know what she was doing.” You know, “she doesn’t know how to do this.” They go away going “well, I don’t know whether there was anything else that that person could have done. And I’m gonna tell my friends that”, you know. So it’s, you can, you know, if you treat people prop – you know correctly, then you can turn any negative into a positive.

Joe Lenton: Yeah and I can imagine as well that if you were the sort of person that likes to fuss around an awful lot with your lighting, and you’re not giving the attention to your subject, it’s not gonna it’s not gonna go so well! 

Belinda Richards: Yeah.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, you’ve got to get the technical elements. You’ve got to just have them so that they are automatic. 

Belinda Richards: That’s right.

Joe Lenton: And you’re not really thinking about it. So you can really be fully present with your client, with their pet.

Belinda Richards: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I mean, that’s you know, that’s what we’ve created here. We’ve got a go to lighting setup. They have a choice of 2 backgrounds. You can go for the light background or the dark background. And it’s basically a grey or a bone colour. So, I’ve got 2 different lighting setups for the different colour backgrounds. And that’s it. And I don’t touch the lights. The settings are all the same and that’s the way it stays for a client session. Now, if I’m actually going to then start doing something that I’m thinking for awards, or you know, creativity, or you know, creating something else, I’ll definitely be fluffing around with lights. But for everyday, you know, client work it’s a routine. It’s, you know, this is how it needs to be done, because this is the way it works the best.

Joe Lenton: Yeah. And people also get used to seeing it. And that’s kind of almost your signature look overall. That the way you light it, the way you retouch it, that that’s your product.

Belinda Richards: It’s consistent. Yeah, it’s consistency. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Joe Lenton: So what would you say then, if someone was thinking about starting out as a pet photographer? What would you say are essential qualities, essential things that they would need?

Belinda Richards: Well, I think, obviously like we talked about before having some sort of idea on how to work with animals is definitely your first port of call. I mean, you can learn how to use your camera and and your lighting and that sort of stuff relatively easily. But if you cannot get a rapport with an animal then you you’re never gonna – I don’t think that you’re gonna be successful in pet photography.

I mean, there are a lot of photographers out there who are turning to pet photography at the moment because it’s one of the genres that haven’t been hit as hard as others with the cost of living crisis and things like that. And what I mean by that is that my clients don’t have children – they have dogs. So they’ve got a disposable income. So I know a lot of photographers are doing that. But it’s sort of like if you’ve got no idea how to – don’t expect the owner to know what to do. They don’t – so many times I see the owners come in here, and they think they know their dogs, but they don’t. They misinterpret the body language. They see something, a dog panting and wagging its tail as a happy dog. It’s not necessarily a happy dog. It could be a really anxious dog, you know. And they they don’t always know the other sort of small things to look out for. 

And I think, if you’re gonna work with animals as a professional you need to be able to do that because it’s up to you to call it quits if the dog’s in any kind of distress or danger, or anything like that. Or any animal, you know, not just dogs. And I have had clients in here that wanna keep pushing it when the dog’s not cooperating and things like that. And I’ve had to be firm and say, no. We’ve got enough. We’ve got everything we need to actually work with, you know. Or, sorry we couldn’t get it today. But I’m not going to keep pushing this because I can see that this is not working and it’s not safe to go on any further. So you, like I said, as a professional working with animals, you need to be able to recognize these things. So get yourself experience doing that. There’s plenty of different ways to do it like I said. Volunteer at your shelter, go to a course, read some books there’s YouTube channels. Just get out there and be amongst it. Go to your dog park and start studying dog behaviour and things like that. And that will help.

The next thing, I guess, then, is to – if you want to run a business, get some business training. I mean, even if you know, you’ve got the most beautiful ability with camera, with your camera and able to capture a dog’s personality in essence, and things like that. If you don’t know how to run a business, then you’re not going to be doing it for very long. So don’t buy the new camera. Don’t buy the new lens. If you’ve got a camera and a lens, that’s all you need. Go and spend the money on a business coach. It is worth every cent, and I mean, if you can do one on one, if you can afford one on one on it. There’s a lot of memberships and stuff out there that are a lot more affordable. I mean, if that’s all you can afford, then that’s what you should do. But if you can afford to spend it for one on one, you’re gonna get there a lot faster. So yeah, just get amongst that sort of thing. And then just remember that it’s supposed to be fun! Everything that we do here. We’re we’re hanging out with animals. So everything’s just supposed to be fun. So have fun with it.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, I think that’s an important point, really, you know. Not just to see it as, “oh, look, here’s a genre of photography that’s still making money. So I’ll go into that because I wanna make a little bit more money.” And seeing it as a cash cow to be milked dry, sort of thing. But, you know, actually really thinking about the genre. Is it something you’re going to enjoy? Is it something that you can do naturally like that?

Belinda Richards: Absolutely.

Joe Lenton: Because it’s like with when you’re taking pictures of people – slight differences in the way that someone holds themself just can make a huge difference in the look of an image. And it’s the same with animals. It’s not just the big body expressions. It’s the smaller ones as well.

Belinda Richards: Yeah, it is.

Joe Lenton: Which can make the difference between them looking happy, or sort of rather fed up.

Belinda Richards: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I mean, it’s I mean, I shoot here on, you know, high speed, burst Mode. And I’ve got the Pro photos to make sure that I don’t miss any frames. And that’s the reason why I do it. Because literally, I can do, you know, a set of 5 shots up one after the other, and the slightest movement in their eye or nose or something, can make them look like they’re in a completely different mode. So, it’s yeah, it is but those nuances are important I think, in any kind of photography, really. But definitely, you know, I know for pet photography it is. It’s, you know, I can show somebody 2 different images that look almost the same, but they give 2 completely different emotions or feelings, you know.

Joe Lenton: So, when you’re buying kit as well you’re also thinking very much about what is gonna serve the purpose rather than just what’s the latest version? What’s the snazziest version? I mean, yes, okay, you could say something like a Profoto is not the cheapest light. But there’s a reason for getting something like that, because you don’t want to be pressing it, waiting 4 seconds for the light to recharge before you can take another shot. You know, your style of photography kind of requires that it work a bit quicker.

Belinda Richards: Absolutely, and people will say – you do hear people say things like, you know, it’s not about the gear and all that sort of stuff all the time. And to a certain degree I can attest to that. So I started out here with a Nikon D800 and I had a 35mm Nikon lens, but not the good one, the one that cost under $300. That’s all I had. And I had a 50mm lens, but I never used that in the studio. I’ve got a small space. I needed something wider, but my lights were the Elinchrom Rx. 4 mono blocks, the, you know, like $1,500 for 3 of them. They’re relatively cheap. I’d been using them since I was at Uni, and I used those for the 1st 4 years of my career. And it’s exactly what you said it was. It’s click the button. Wait… and you’re missing so many moments in between that and you know, we tried to do high speed sync and all that sort of stuff. But you know what I made money. I won awards using that equipment. 

But when I was able to buy the Profotos and the new Sony gear, the new Sony equipment with it. You know, it’s just obviously technology – my camera was about 12 years old by the time I upgraded. So the technology has obviously advanced a lot. And it was like having this amazing new tool in my kit, you know. Like I could create things that I could never create using the other equipment. So yes, you can do just fine with the equipment that you’ve got. Once you get to the point where you can actually afford the good stuff – there’s a reason I choose the Profotos and not Godox, because the Godox can’t keep up with the Profotos. They can’t. They just can’t shoot fast enough to freeze the motion of a moving dog. The Profotos are the only ones I’ve ever found that can do that. 

So, you know, I don’t have to shoot in – I can’t shoot in a black studio because I need to be able to focus and my dogs are always moving. So it’s not like I can do like you can sort of black out the studio to freeze the action. I have to have ambient light in here. So it you need – the D2s are the only ones that I found that can actually overpower that ambient light and still freeze that motion really easily. You know that, combined with the Sony a7 alpha or whatever it is that I’m using. It’s just been a God-send. It’s been amazing. Together they work together so well, and then I’ve seen my work and consistency go from here to here, and it’s also saved me so much time in the post processing you know. It’s cause, you know, you’ve got consistency of light, colour and quality of light and things like that. 

Whereas, you know, you’re using the Elinchrom mono-blocks, they’re, I mean, they’re cheap for a reason. It’s you know, Elinchrom do have really good equipment. But I didn’t have their really good equipment. I had their bare bones, basic equipment. So it’s, you know, it was constantly – every flash was a different colour. And you know, like you said, you got to wait for, you know, 4 seconds for it to recharge. And yeah, all that sort of stuff. So yeah, equipment can be important, I guess, is the short answer to that!

Joe Lenton: It’s also something you can work towards. It’s – sometimes people can fall into that trap of thinking, “well, what is my optimal set of kit? And I want to start with that.” And you think well, that might be nice. But you know, sometimes you need to work towards these things. When I started out I had a couple of speedlights and people saying, “oh, you can’t really do product photography with speedlights.” And I did manage to put them through sort of soft boxes, and so on. But because my studio is very small and everything’s all in fairly close, and that anyway, I could make it work. It was okay.

Belinda Richards: Yeah, you learn to manage with what you’ve got.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to work like that now. And the lights have got a more powerful, and so on, and so forth. But you know you, you learn as well. But you – I think it’s good for your creativity, because you become a problem solver. If you haven’t got everything on your – served on a plate to you as easy as it could possibly be, you have to learn.

Belinda Richards: Absolutely. I totally agree. And I mean the problem solving that we did in those first few years with, you know, having to manage with what we had. It was worth it, though, because, like I said, instead of spending the money on new camera equipment and stuff like that, I spent it on getting somebody to help me grow this business, which is the long term plan. Right? That’s the long game. Because now I can buy whatever equipment I want. So if I had of bought the camera instead of got the business coaching, then I would have a camera, but it would not be making any money.

Joe Lenton: Yeah, yeah, all the kit and no business, yeah. Don’t think you want it that way around, do you? No.

Belinda Richards: Yeah.

Joe Lenton: So I mean, obviously, we’ve all got to make a living out of these things. If you discovered another genre that you could do that was potentially more lucrative, say it was people or something like that – would you switch?

Belinda Richards: No. No. Never! I love what I do. I really do. You know, I’ve got no interest in photographing people whatsoever. I’m not – it definitely doesn’t suit my personality style. The only thing that I’ve actually been looking at lately is starting to learn a little bit more about wildlife photography, just because I’m looking for a bit more of a challenge. But mostly to just scratch an itch, really, at this point. I’m not interested really in moving away from animals at all. So…

Joe Lenton: Yes, it, you know, it comes across as being really a passion for you. It’s something that you really connect with. So, yeah, I’m glad to hear it, you know. Sometimes with people you dangle a bit more money in front of them, and they’ll just run after that carrot, you know.

Belinda Richards: Yeah. Oh, it would have to be a significant amount of money, to be quite honest with you. It’s, yeah, I love what I do. I mean, who doesn’t wanna hang out with animals all day? Dogs are the best.

Joe Lenton: Do you still have goals, then, for your business? Are there still, perhaps awards you wanna win? Or are there still stages you want to get your business to? Or, are you happy with how things are for now and ticking along?

Belinda Richards: There are always goals, Joe! Otherwise what’s the point in getting up in the morning? I have many, many goals. Most of it like I’m pretty happy with where the business is at the moment. It’s consistent. I know how much money is gonna come in every year. You know, it’s just maintaining that at the moment. My other goals at the moment is I’m starting to do a lot more mentoring and speaking, workshops, that sort of thing. So I’m working on a new website at the moment for that side of things to help teach other people how to do studio pet photography. 

I see that there’s a lot of education around pet photography out there, but most of it is out there in natural light conditions, outdoor photography. I don’t do any of that. I don’t like the great outdoors that much. So I keep everything inside my studio. And I would really like to pass on a lot of the knowledge that I’ve got now in how to do that and really sort of mentor people. So I’m putting stuff together for that at the moment. That’s a bit of a medium term goal, at the moment. 

There’s always competitions I want to win that I haven’t quite been able to nab yet. So we just keep trying. That sort of thing. Yeah. And I, you know, wouldn’t do, I mean, I’ve been traveling a bit obviously around the world doing some different workshops and speaking engagements and things like that. My goal this year is to get on the WPPI speakers list. So if anyone wants to put in a good word for me, that’d be wonderful! But that’s a goal at the moment that I’m working towards. And yeah, we just keep plodding along and making art and being happy.

Joe Lenton: Great! Well, that is the main thing. Yeah. So if people want to keep up with what you’re doing and see these things develop, where’s the best place to go?

Belinda Richards: So I have my business website, which is just I’ve got my personal creative website, which is Belinda Richards .com. You can find me on all the normal social channels, either @Belinda Richards artist or @frogdogstudios. Yeah, I think I’m on all of the platforms. I got the handle for all of them. So yeah, it’s pretty easy to find me. Yeah, and you’re always welcome to get in touch, too, if you’ve got any questions.

Joe Lenton: Excellent. Thank you very much. Well, it’s been great having you on the podcast. It’s been really interesting learning more about your story and I encourage people to go and take a look at the artwork.

Belinda Richards: That’s great. Thanks, Joe. It’s been an actual, real pleasure to be here.

Joe Lenton: That’s great to hear. Thank you very much for being on the podcast and thank you, everybody for listening.

Text & audio © Focused Professional 2024

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