Check out Patrick Nau’s Photo Gallery at the end of article.
As a professional photographer for over 32 years, Patrick Nau knows how to capture seemingly fleeting moments—turning the ephemeral into the eternal—one photograph at a time. But recently, Nau has begun to offer a more unique type of photography: portraits of beloved and cherished pets. As one of the premier pet photographers in the Twin Cities, Nau works to capture the charm and personality of animals in his classic, timeless portraits.
Nau was inspired to change his main clientele due to a well-timed photography magazine that arrived in the mail seven years ago. Nau flipped through the magazine and landed on an article about pet photography. He was stunned by what he saw—the photography was simply horrible. He recalls, “It was the worst published work I had ever seen in a professional magazine, and, to tell you the truth, it got me really mad. I said, ‘I could do better than this, but I can’t do it tomorrow.’” The abysmal photography inspired Nau to fill the void he found in quality pet photography.
Dismayed by the decreasing need for professional portrait photographers and with business dwindling due to the upsurge in digital cameras, Nau saw an opportunity to turn his business around. Nau took advantage of his studio’s location next to the Minnehaha Animal Hospital and his friendship with the owner, and he asked to practice his skills on the animals. Pet owners received photographs of their beloved pets, and Nau got the practice he needed in order to become the successful pet photographer that he is today.
After six months of practice, Nau felt ready to call himself a pet photographer. Shortly after, another opportunity came his way—this time in the form of a partnership with Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet. The business deal has been dually beneficial, with Nau offering in-store pet portrait days. “They’re truly one of the main reasons I’m still in business and am now one of the most well-known pet photographers in the Twin Cities.”
Nau notes the joys of working with pets, especially the fast-paced process. He allows the animals and their owners to get comfortable in the studio before the photo session begins. In order to keep the animals’ attention, Nau will use noisemakers or make noises himself. He also tells his clients, “My two-fold philosophy is that I have endless patience, and nothing is ever a problem…if the dog goes to the bathroom or they’re running around…remember, it’s never a problem. My job is to get the portrait no matter what.”
Along with his endless patience, Nau makes sure to photograph the animals to reflect their personality and their breed. While puppy photographs may contain a cute setting or expression, strong breeds like Shepherds will have a more regal feeling. Nau finds it very important to properly represent the breed well.
In order to prepare for a session, Nau suggests that active dogs get some exercise and dogs be brushed out or groomed. A typical photo session with Nau takes about two hours and includes the portrait session, a short break, and a viewing of the photographs. Clients then choose their favorite photographs and are able to order prints on the spot. Nau notes that the viewing session is often the most fun because people can’t decide which photos they love the best. “My job,” he says, “is to make it hard to decide.”
In seven years, Nau’s photography focus has changed to mostly focus on pet portraits. Though he still frequently does weddings, family portraits, and senior pictures, Nau’s real passion lies with capturing the personality and memory of human’s best friend. Thanks to his patience, passion, and talent, countless families will be able to honor and remember their beloved pets for years to come. For more information, visit www.patricknau.com.