I learned a ton through both experiences.
The most common question I get is “isn’t it really difficult to get a dog to sit still for a photo?”
The answer to that is complicated, but the short version is: it’s easier than you think!
In my experience, through the magic of fast shutter speed, a wide open lens, off-camera flash, and dogs who (literally) look up to their owners, it isn’t as much of the disaster it’s easy to imagine it as. Even a puppy with the wiggles can be tempted to slow down to look at their owner or a treat, if only for a couple of seconds at a time.
Things that pet photography does require are quick thinking, quick adjustments, and the ability to be up and down off the floor the whole time.
Dogs especially look best when shot from slightly below their head level, gives them a sort of noble and heroic air. We’re used to looking at our pets from far above, so it’s nice to see them from their level (especially the tiny ones).
The most intense thing about these events I’ve done is the fast-paced setting. I’ve had to get a lot quicker about adjusting lighting and settings.
I’ve also learned a lot about how to direct pets and their parents into poses that are more likely to showcase all of them better on film.