Amiee Stubbs

A life-long love of animals led Amiee to quickly become Nashville's leading pet photographer. Having 5 dogs herself, Amiee deeply understands the complex relationship between pet and owner. Working with primarily dogs and cats, her heart warming portraits reveal the personality and character of every animal she photographs. As an advocate for animal rescue she really knows how to make her images pull at the heart strings and help to make a difference.

Amiee uses Zenfolio for her pet photography portfolio and loves how easy it is for her clients to navigate. She is often too busy to meet directly with clients after a shoot and trusts the Zenfolio system for all of her client proofing and ordering.

Amiee also enjoys the ease of password protection for her commercial clients as she can selectively allow downloading and not have to worry about sending big files. Over all the system saves her time and the hassle of managing a large volume of orders.

Where were you born and raised? Where have you settled?

I was born and raised around Nashville, TN and have never lived anywhere else. I’m not opposed to moving one day, but I’ve always been happy here. You can be right in the heart of our growing city, drive about 20 minutes, and you’ll be surrounded by hills, trees and grazing horses in the countryside.

What type of photography do you shoot most often? What type of photography are you most passionate about shooting?

I definitely photograph pets more than anything else. My dogs are my family, so it’s extremely fulfilling to work with clients who feel the same way about their pets. I think I’m equally passionate about animals and music, so I get just as excited when I’m working with a pack of dogs as I do when I’m shooting a concert. My dream job, though, would be to work as U2’s tour photographer.

How long have you been a shutter releaser? What led you to this profession?

I started working in a darkroom at school when I was 10, and in high school I worked at an “old time” portrait studio in a theme park. I went on to work corporate desk jobs for about 13 years, but was never really happy. I decided to go back to college as an adult, and after taking a basic Black & White course in 2010, I realized that photography was what I should have been doing all along.

How has Zenfolio helped your business?

Zenfolio is a tool that’s just as important to me as my camera or my editing software. I’m usually too busy to meet clients after the session for in-person print sales. Clients just place an order directly through my site, and all I have to do is a quick approval. I’m confident in the quality of the prints and products that will be delivered to their door, too.

Having unlimited password-protected galleries for my business clients is something that they love as much as I do. Rather than using a drop box, in minutes I can create a new gallery page and use that as a way to send them files. Some business clients ask me to create individual galleries for different projects. Zenfolio makes it easy for them to find the photos they’re looking for and download them as needed.

Tell us about your work flow, what editing program do you use?

First, everything runs through Lightroom for basic adjustments like color and cropping. I’ll use Photoshop for more complex edits if they’re needed, like removing a dog’s leash from the final image.

Do you have brand loyalty for Canon, Nikon or something completely different?

I guess it started when I was a kid, admiring my parents’ AE-1. Canon love for life.

What is the best part of being a professional photographer?

There are several answers to this one! Giving people memories of their pets that will last a lifetime. Teaching other aspiring photographers. Taking portraits that make people feel beautiful. And though it’s not easy work, I’m able to give a voice to animals who need our help when I’m volunteering as the Photojournalist for Animal Rescue Corps. Yes, there are many days where all I do is sit in my home office and edit, but it is pretty nice to avoid rush hour, stay in my pj’s and have my dogs at my feet.

Do you have an all-time favorite movie?

If I’m sitting still long enough to watch a movie, I’ll probably fall asleep. I am definitely more of a TV gal. I never miss episodes of Psych, Impractical Jokers or South Park. Best of all-time? The Andy Griffith Show or Breaking Bad. (Opposite ends of the spectrum there.)

Are your photography skills self-taught or were you classically trained?

Classically trained, back in the 80s, and again when I went back to college a few years ago. We were required to do most of our assignments with film up until I graduated in 2012, so you had to get everything right in the camera. I had a tough professor who was not afraid to tell us when we’d made mistakes. I think he gave me ulcers, but I love him for it.

What advice would you give a new photographer just starting out?

Learn as much as you can about running a business. Take some reputable photography courses. Don’t put everything you’ve shot in your portfolio; only share your best work. Quality over quantity for sure!

What was your first published work?

Because I’m the Official Photographer for the Nashville Zoo, my zoo animal images are published fairly often locally. My first national publication with my pet photography was Animal Wellness Magazine. I’m pretty sure I screamed when I saw it in the mailbox.

What inspires you as a photographer? Or who?

On the wall beside my desk are photos by William Eggleston, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Anton Corbijn. I love each of them for different reasons, and they all inspire me to keep working harder. Some of my other favorites are Annie Leibovitz, Elliott Erwitt, Keith Carter and Walker Evans.

Is there a trade secret you care to share with us?

I try not to photograph different pets in the same pose, with the same background over and over again. I like to challenge myself to get creative and that keeps my work interesting.

What is the very first camera you ever owned?

A Polaroid Sun 600. Unfortunately I don’t have the camera anymore, but I still have some of the photos I took with it.

What piece of equipment or doohickey do you have with you on every shoot?

Reflectors of various sizes and colors! Also dog treats, squeaky toys, and hand wipes. I tend to get slobbered on quite a bit.

Tell us something about yourself that we would never guess.

I used to be a professional wrestler. (My husband was, too. That’s how we met!) Sometimes I still miss it, but my days of hitting people with folding chairs are definitely behind me.

Do you have any final words of wisdom on being a first class shooter?

Know that there’s always room to improve, and that we’ll always have more to learn. This is definitely hard work, but I’m so glad I decided to follow my dream. You do the same. If you want to succeed, you have to give it everything you’ve got! And remember those words of George Eastman: "Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography."

Amiee Stubbs

Pet Photographer, Nashville, Tennessee