Diane Padys wasn’t always on track to become a photographer.
“Photography was always a passionate hobby of mine from college,” she said.
Padys spent a number of years working as a staff accountant in San Francisco before she decided to take her passionate hobby and turn it into a career. Today, she runs her own photography business in Bellingham and has a number of awards for her work.
But recently, Padys has been exploring a new realm of work. A photoshoot for a puppy she saw on Facebook was Padys’ first step toward adding pet photography to her portfolio. That shoot got her thinking about how she really enjoyed capturing the spirit and personality of animals, she said. “Now that I’m into it, every time I go to a friend’s house and I know they have animals, I say, ‘Be prepared, I’m bringing a camera with me and maybe a light even too,’” she said with a laugh.
From cats and dogs to horses and parakeets, Padys said each animal has its own modus operandi. Some can’t sit still, others can be ready to fall asleep in front of the camera. “I’m still on the search for that one shot that encapsulates the true love between an owner and their animal. I haven’t gotten that yet,” Padys said.
Before she began her quest for that perfect picture, before she’d even moved to Bellingham, Padys started her photography career in the fashion world. “I’m pretty much self-taught all the way; I didn’t go to a photography school,” Padys said. Rather than formal training, Padys got help from other photographers and treated each job she got as a learning experience. She even spent a year-and-a-half in Milan, Italy, going to other studios and learning what she could about fashion photography.
She and her late partner eventually found themselves in New York City, where Padys became more specialized in food photography. It was also where Padys said she feels like she grew as a businesswoman. However, after living in cities packed with people, it was time for a change. “New York is such an experience. Manhattan is an isle of noise,” Padys said.
So, about 20 years ago, they made the move to Bellingham to get away from the hustle and bustle. It was close enough to Seattle’s commercial hub while still being reclusive enough to enjoy life, she said.
Now, at her Bellingham studio, Padys continues specializing in food photography as well as architecture, portraits and corporate photography. There have been plenty of clients for her budding pet photography specialty as well. However, she does say that staying in a small town can be restricting to young photographers. “I would recommend anyone starting off with photography to develop a footprint in a big city,” she said.
It’s in those big cities that Padys said young photographers can get to know the business, pricing, dealing with clients, setting up a studio and more. When it comes to her future, Padys said she’d love to do more architectural photography while also making time to travel. She said she’s open to all kinds of opportunities, but she would like to stay in Bellingham as long as it’s sustainable to her.
“I just love what I do,” she said. “I just want to have the energy and everything to keep going.” So animal lovers, rest assured. Padys will continue searching for that perfect shot to show the spark of love between an owner and their pet.