Flat-Coats are my breed. It's what we own and show, and so I have a very personal interest in the breed in general.
Photography is my art. It's not my day job. While I happen to sell pictures, that's not my primary motivation. I get a great deal of satisfaction when I take a really nice action shot of a Flat-Coat, either in the show ring or in the field. Getting a great shot of a black dog can be hard, and so getting the shot is emotionally rewarding. And doubly so when I can share it with the person who owns the dog.
The same is true for Goldens, but perhaps to a lesser extent.
When I started photographing Flat-Coat Nationals in 1999, I originally gave away my pictures. That was with film and making prints, and it got kind of expensive especially when I started taking a LOT of pictures the following year. In 2001 I bought a very expensive digital camera, the Canon D30. I started charging for digital pictures and enlargements to pay for my expenses and my gear. I also tried my hand at being an official show Photographer a couple of times, and while I managed to meet my obligations, I decided that was too much like real work. In 2007, I finally got in over my head when I photographed the Golden National and I couldn't meet my objectives with my available time. That experience got me to focus on why I was taking pictures in the first place and to get back to basics, which was to feed my art and to share the occasional great image with fellow dog owners.
It's funny. I think I would have had less trouble if I had just continued to give away my pictures. Selling sets up expectations from people who want results immediately, who assume I do photography full-time, or that I am acting under some official cover when in fact I often have none. Inevitably, some people are not satisfied. Yes, every business has cranky customers, I know. But those negative experiences take a lot of the fun away. And sometimes opportunities are blocked.
Being a Dog Show Photographer is hard, and I have great respect for those that do it well.