Building a Photography Business from Passion

Animal Photographer Greg Murray - The PRO EDU Podcast S10 E10

Animal Photographer Greg Murray - The PRO EDU Podcast S10 E10

Animal Photography with Greg Murray - The PRO EDU Podcast S10 E10

Embarking on a journey of creative expression and professional independence, a former corporate human resources employee turned successful animal photographer shares his unique career trajectory. With an artistic streak recognized from a young age, a business degree, and a decade in the corporate world, he found his true passion lay elsewhere. Capturing the chaotic beauty of animals through the lens sparked a joy that office life could never provide. Dropping the security of a well-paying job, he ventured into the precarious yet rewarding world of professional photography. Specializing in animal photography, he has mastered the art of combining his love for art with his affinity for animals, developing a thriving business that aligns with his inner aspirations. View podcast for free here.

After years of perseverance and diversifying his skills, he now exclusively photographs animals, turning down projects that don't align with his niche. Marketing strategies and business savvy, honed from his corporate days, now serve to propel his photography career. With a portfolio of work highly sought after by both pet owners and big companies, he relishes the ability to work on his own terms, enjoying the fulfilling task of shaping his artistic endeavors into a sustainable livelihood. His story is a testament to pursuing one's calling and illustrates the transformative power of aligning work with passion.

Key Takeaways

  • Transitioned from a corporate HR role to a full-time animal photographer, finding fulfillment in a passion-driven career.
  • Crafts a sustainable business by focusing solely on animal photography, declining projects without animal involvement.
  • Utilizes a strong online presence and strategic marketing to connect with audiences seeking specialized pet photography services.

Engaging in Dialogue

Have you ever fancied an enticing conversation over a refreshing beverage? Picture settling into a comfortable exchange, an opportunity to discuss a passion that fuels your soul. That brings us to the irreversible charm of capturing the essence of animals through the lens—a practice that not only brings joy but also captures hearts. For instance, the journey of Greg Murray stands testament to a transformative path, from a decade-long corporate tenure to an enlivened career in animal photography.

Career Shift:

  • Previous Role: Corporate Human Resources for over 10 years
  • Turning Point: Discontent with the existing career and longing for a creative outlet

It's intriguing to note how environments devoid of windows and filled with others' dilemmas can steer one toward a quest for fulfillment. Greg acknowledges he always harbored an affection for both art and the animal kingdom. His early years were surrounded by diverse pets and abundant exposure to art, which later became the cornerstones of his current vocation.

Early Influences:

  • Family owned various pets (dogs, lizards, birds, etc.)
  • Art classes from a young age

Artistic Foundation:

  • Spent formative years in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Initial photography explorations involved landscapes and cityscapes

In Greg's unfolding narrative, passion for photography coincided with pragmatism. The acquisition of a Canon 60D catalyzed his escapades into photography, and the proximity of a national park allowed him to delve into the scenic beauty of Cleveland—a place ripe for artistic expression.

Transition Phase:

  • Initial Focus: Landscapes and cityscapes
  • Ventures: Art exhibitions in Cleveland area, alongside maintaining an HR role

A decision to leave the corporate world in 2014 allowed Greg's latent ambition to flourish, setting the stage for the harmonious union of his love for animals and photography. Pursuit of this confluence wasn't immediate; it wavered as a balancing act between economic sustenance from pursuits like wedding photography and the burgeoning focus on animal portraiture.

Professional Evolution:

  • Year of Change: 2014, transitioned to full-time photography
  • Diversified Offerings: Weddings, headshots, but animals remained the focus

Today, Greg prospers in animal photography, a specialization cherished for its genuine connection with his subjects—animals. His dedication is evident, as he now declines projects void of animal presence. Greg has further enhanced his portfolio and income through books and the licensing of his work.

Current Endeavors:

  • Published works and licensed photography
  • Collaboration with large companies and creative agencies
  • Editorial contributions, notably of raccoon imagery to European newspapers

For clients, Greg provides an entrancing experience working mainly with personal pet photography and commercial partnerships. Licenses and contractual agreements fortify his status as a reputable source for high-quality animal imagery, which can be found in notable online retail spaces.

Clientele: A balanced mix of private pet owners and commercial entities

Finally, the importance of a robust online presence cannot be overstated. Greg emphasizes the compelling value of a well-maintained and up-to-date website—a critical tool in showcasing one's craft and attracting those seeking to immortalize their furry companions in artful snapshots.

Digital Marketing Strategies:

  • Website: A pivot for showcasing work and attracting clients
  • Engagement: Frequent updates and improvements to enhance user experience

Profile of a Photographer

Early Life and Initial Career

I was always enamored with animals from a young age, having grown up surrounded by a diversity of pets, which included dogs, lizards, birds, and more. Creativity was a part of my life from early on, with my mother enrolling me in numerous art classes around Cleveland, Ohio. Despite this, my career path initially led me to a decade in corporate human resources, having earned a business degree and excelling within the field, though feeling fundamentally unfulfilled.

Shift to Photographic Endeavors

In 2012, a pivotal change occurred when I embraced photography, starting with the Canon 60D, and began capturing the landscapes and cityscapes of Cleveland — notably the stunning national park nearby. While I continued working in HR, my passion for photography grew as I displayed my artwork at local shows. By 2014, the call to pursue photography fully was undeniable, leading to a mutual departure from my HR position.

Rise in Animal Photography

The decision to focus exclusively on animal photography was driven by my dual passions for animals and photography. While the transition wasn't instant—supplementing income through weddings and corporate headshots initially — by 2017, I was specialized solely in animal photography. Rejecting non-animal related work, my career has since flourished, with my photographs featured in various commercial and editorial capacities globally.

Photography and Personal Life

Balancing my profession with personal life, my family includes two rescue dogs, alongside two children. Despite a temptation to expand our pet family, especially with my fascination for reptiles, the current family dynamic maintains a full and satisfying household.

Clientele and Work Approach

My clientele is varied, including both private pet owners and companies through marketing agencies. Half of my assignments involve capturing pets for their owners, while the remainder includes commercial work, ranging from photo licensing to product-specific shoots. Licensing is a favored aspect of my work due to its efficiency. Strategic partnership details often remain confidential to maintain professional integrity. Finally, keeping my website up to date and appealing aids in attracting clients seeking memorable images of their companions.


Note: For formatting consistency and legal reasons, a transcript cannot be directly reproduced. This writing transforms the provided background information into an original composition reflective of the same ideas but articulated with different words and structure.

Business Elements

Client Base Insights

He attracts a diverse range of clients, from individuals seeking professional portraits of their pets to large corporations requiring specialized animal photography. Half of his business is dedicated to capturing cherished moments for pet owners, while the other half stems from commercial clients and marketing firms needing animal images for promotional purposes.

Intellectual Property and Business Collaborations

He has a deep appreciation for licensing, which allows him to distribute previously captured pet photographs with minimal effort involved. A profound aspect of his enterprise is the sale of image rights to various entities. Clients must agree to a release allowing the reuse and sales of their pet’s images, expanding the reach of his portfolio to prominent platforms like significant online retailers’ pet sections.

Customized Pet Portraits

In his venture, custom pet photography sessions are integral. He takes immense pride in delivering personalized experiences that capture the unique essence of each animal. These sessions are vital for continuing to grow his library of licensable work, providing him the material to sustain the licensing side of his business.

Leveraging Market Tactics

Significance of Individualized Marketing

Marketing oneself effectively is crucial in today's competitive environment. An individual's ability to stand out hinges on the personal touch they bring to their promotional activities. Personal marketing isn't solely about visibility; it's about resonating with a target audience on a more human level. Emphasizing personal stories and experiences can forge a stronger connection with potential clients and establish deeper brand loyalty.

  • Personal Connection: Share real-life anecdotes and professional experiences to engage audiences.
  • Unique Identity: Craft a distinct image that highlights individual style and expertise.
  • Engagement: Interact with clients and community through various communication channels.

Maximizing Digital Channels

Digital mediums offer unprecedented pathways for reaching out and capturing attention. The strategic use of online platforms is indispensable for businesses and creatives seeking to amplify their reach and impact. A robust online presence not only showcases one’s portfolio but also extends their influence beyond geographical limitations.

  • Website Optimization: Utilize a well-designed, frequently updated website to attract and retain visitors.
  • Content Sharing: Distribute high-quality, relevant content showcasing one’s expertise to engage users.
  • Online Networking: Engage with peers and potential clients through social media and professional networks.
Platform Use-cases
Professional Social Networks Connecting with industry professionals, sharing expertise
Visual Social Media Displaying portfolio, behind-the-scenes glimpses, client testimonials
Blogs and Articles Thought leadership, educational content, personal perspectives

Using the right strategies, personal marketing and online platforms synergistically enhance one's brand, extend reach, and solidify their market position.

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