Jim Dratfield

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Carmel-based photographer Jim Dratfield, it may be more like a thousand barks, meows or neighs.

Jim Dratfield, is the founder of Petography, a portraiture service specializing in fine art-style photos of pets and their owners. His business has attracted an impressive client base, including the likes of Barbara Walters, Jennifer Aniston and Elton John.

Working with animals can be tricky, “I mostly work with untrained animals. I don’t expect them to listen or to necessarily respond to everything. They’re very unpredictable and they don’t necessarily take direction. If you’re patient with them, they’ll eventually give you something. Sometimes you just have to wait for it.”

But despite the difficulties, he says animals are easier to work with than humans in some ways.

“I’ve never had a dachshund in profile tell me his nose looked too big, asking if I could cover him from another angle,” Dratfield says. “When you really get them looking into the camera, you get something that’s not concocted”

It was when he donated free photo sessions to a benefit fundraiser that Dratfield landed his first celebrity clients, Oscar de la Renta and Henry Kissinger.

The job’s not all rubbing elbows with celebrities and Nobel Prize-recipients, though. Work keeps Dratfield on the road at least one week every month and he says he once nearly lost a finger to a temperamental skink lizard. But to Dratfield, it’s all worth it for his clients’ response to the final product.

Jim Dratfield authored eleven books about animals, some of the titles are “Pug Shots,” “Day of the Dachshund”, “The Quotable Equine”, “A dog for all seasons”, “The Quotable Feline”.

(Several of his signed Pet books are available for purchase at Oak&Oil)