Cheng Shun Ling, 32
Pet photographer at CS Ling Photography
How did you become a pet photographer?
I’ve been a wildlife photographer for five years, and then I decided to start pet photography two and a half years ago.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
You need a lot of patience. Pet photography can be more stressful [than wildlife]. Usually we only have an hour or two to get everything completed. You have to work with babies crying or kids running around and not cooperating because it’s usually a family photo shoot with their pets.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I don’t have shoots every day, because after a two-hour session, my back and neck are totally sore. There’s also liaising with clients, managing the props [that are available to rent] and post-processing – all of this takes time. Then there’s keeping up the business, like marketing and managing finances.
Your toughest shoot?
There was a dog that barked a lot whenever he saw a stranger. At our first meeting, if the owner made any slight movements, the dog would start barking. We sat on the floor and chilled just like friends. To the owner’s surprise, the dog didn’t bark on the day of the shoot.
What pets are the hardest to photograph?
Hyperactive dogs are tough but super chill dogs are, too – they just sit there. We try to bring out their playfulness and personalities.
How do you manage that?
Some animals are spooked by noise and some are attracted to squeaky toys. If they are not into treats, they may respond to words like 'gai gai', and if a dog has a girlfriend or boyfriend and you say their name, the dog’s ears will perk up.
You’ve mentioned dogs a lot, so would you say you’re more of a dog person?
Yes, although there are some cats that behave like dogs. So I like them, too.
Which are easier to shoot: cats or dogs?
It depends on their personalities, and I’ve had challenging experiences with both dogs and cats. The most challenging? Chinchillas!
Where’s your favourite place to photograph animals?