Beijing: Driven by his love of animals, Zhang Tianhang pursued a master’s degree in photography at Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom even though it was against his parents’ wishes.
His goal? To one day become a professional pet photographer.
“My family didn’t support my decision to become a photographer, much less a pet photographer.
“They didn’t think it was a decent job, ” he said.
His parents have since changed their minds as their son is currently one of China’s most popular pet photographers.
His services are in such high demand that the 33-year-old is booked for jobs until 2022.
He said the first photography job he was compensated for was a shoot he did for a stranger he met in a park in the United Kingdom.
“This dog owner asked if I could take some photos of him and his dog. In return, he would fix my computer. After that I realised that I could actually make money from my passion, ” he said.
In 2010, Zhang launched his photography studio, Inpetphoto, in the United Kingdom.
After graduating a year later, he decided to return to Beijing and take a photography job at a design studio.
Despite having a full-time job, he continued offering pet photography services at the weekends, charging just 100 yuan (RM60) for a simple photo shoot.
When demand for his pet photography services burgeoned, Zhang left his full-time job to focus on his company.
Today, Inpetphoto has seven professional photographers and two studios in Beijing.
The studio has taken photos of dogs, cats, rabbits, chinchillas and hamsters.
There have also been requests to do photo shoots of pet snakes and pigs.
Zhang’s rates have risen significantly, too. Today, he charges between 3,800 and 5,800 yuan (RM2,312 and RM3,530) per shoot, thanks in part to a boom in the demand for pet products in China.
According to Meituan Dianping, an on-demand services platform, the number of pet photo studios in China increased by 291% year-on-year last year.
Most of the customers were born in the 1980s and 1990s.
“The demand for pet photography is increasing and this is due to the overall expansion of the pet market, ” said Zhang.
“More and more people are now willing to hire a professional to capture images of their pets.”
Evidence of the growing trend of pet photography includes camera and mobile phone manufacturers using pet photography to market their products.
Zhang said these companies have been approaching him to capture images of pets using their products.
Looking ahead, Zhang said that he plans to set up studios in other Chinese cities, expand his list of locations for photo shoots and offer more training sessions for budding photographers.
“Today, pets are no longer just pets – they have become family members. For this reason, I’m confident that the market will continue to expand in the coming years, ” he said. — China Daily/ANN