Interview with artist Tracy Munson

Tracy Munson is an award-winning international photographer with a Master of Photographic Arts Designation (MPA) from Professional Photographers of Canada, holds professional accreditations in multiple categories, and has an extensive experience in the animal care field. With her fabulous images, she became a Photographic Artist of the Year in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 awarded by Professional Photographers of Canada - Atlantic. Tracy’s works have been published in books, calendars, and magazines and displayed in galleries, including the prestigious McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Tracy, can you tell us more about yourself?

Hi, I’m Tracy. I’m a former Veterinary Technician from Toronto, turned full-time photographer in rural New Brunswick. I specialize in pet photography and fine art nature photography.

When did you first know you wanted to be a photographer and how did you get good at it?

It was pretty gradual. I started around 2010 or 11, editing my iPhone photos and adding artistic filters and effects. I had recently quit smoking, and it gave me something to do with my hands. Photography taught me to seek beauty, which helped balance a lot of the ugliness that I saw in my day job at an Animal Shelter.

After a couple of years, I was coming up against the limitations of the iPhone for action and low light (don’t forget, this was ten years ago, they’ve come a long way since), and I wanted a telephoto lens to photograph wildlife, so I upgraded to a DSLR. People were beginning to ask about buying prints of my work, and that was when I started to think about possibly someday moving into photography full time. However, it still took several years, and much practice before that finally happened in 2018.

What is the most rewarding for you as a photographer and how do you prepare for an upcoming photo shoot?

The most rewarding for me as a photographer is when I can create something special and unique for clients to hang on their walls. Preparation for a photo shoot includes meeting with the client and their pets ahead of time. This gives me a chance to get a feel for their decor and to discuss any ideas or dreams they may have about what we will create for their home. It also lets me spend some time getting to know the pets before my face is hidden behind the big black box with the giant eye, which can be creepy for them.

Does spending time with animals give you immense happiness? Are animals your passion and first love?

Yes, spending time with animals is definitely my happy place. At the moment, I have three dogs, two cats, and a bunch of chickens, and I’m happiest hanging out with them. I’ve spent my whole adult life working with animals as a veterinary technician, animal shelter worker, and now a pet photographer. I can’t imagine NOT working with animals.

As a pet lover, can you share a fantastic priceless moment spent well with your pet, something that you will never forget?

Oh gosh, I have so many of those. We’ve traveled all over Canada, camping with two of our dogs, and there are a ton of great memories from those trips, but it’s mostly the little everyday moments. Their quirky behaviors; the way Becca growls and spins in the direction of whatever she wants, or Delgado cycles through every behavior and trick he’s ever known in an effort to get some of whatever we’re eating. Even just the sense of peace I have watching the chickens run around while I drink my morning coffee on the deck.

It would definitely be fair to say that animals are my passion and first love. Even as a little girl, I never daydreamed about getting married and having children; I fantasized about having a pet monkey and a koala bear.

How are you different from other pet photographers?

I’m different from many other pet photographers. I have a Veterinary Technician degree and over 25 years of experience working with animals, so I have a better understanding of animal behavior than most. I also specialize in creating large wall art pieces, so people don’t come to me when they want some digital photos to share on social media; they know we will be making something extraordinary and unique.

If the pet subject is reactive, shy, or nervous, how do you develop a relationship with them so they trust you and aren’t afraid of the camera during their weakest moments?

Basically, just a lot of treats, much patience, and a lot of flexibility. I try to keep my sessions really positive and fun for the pets, so if I sense they are getting bored or stressed, we switch gears and try something else.

As an award-winning Landscape and Wildlife Photographer, how do you take an award-winning photo?

I’m not sure there’s a recipe for taking an award-winning photo aside from being in the right place at the right time, having a camera, and knowing how to use it! It’s probably 75% willingness to get up early, stay up late, and get eaten alive by bugs, with no guarantee that you’ll see any wildlife or get that spectacular sunset.

Out of all the photos you’ve won an award with, which one is your favorite? Can you tell us the story behind it?

My favorite award-winning photo is Sunset Paddle because it was the first and so unexpected. It was my first time entering the

I see that you are using Canvy to showcase your photos on your website. Can you tell us a bit about how that has helped you with your photographs?

I use Canvy to show examples of my images printed on the wall all over my websites and social media. It helps to plant that idea in the client's mind that printing and hanging on the wall result from their images. Especially in the pet photography genre, many people aren’t sure if they should hang large portraits on the wall. They’re worried they will look crazy to friends and family who maybe don’t have pets or don’t feel the same about them. I find that sharing mock-ups helps to normalize the idea of decorating your home with artwork that features pets.

I love the selection of rooms available in Canvy and how easy it is to change the colors of walls and furniture to better compliment my artwork.

Tell me something you struggle with as a photographer. How do you work to overcome it?

The thing I struggle most with as a photographer is probably just being disciplined in my business. I love being self-employed, but I’m not always the greatest at prioritizing, and I procrastinate a lot. I try to combat that by adding some structure to my days, being at my desk for specific hours, and setting times to work on administrative tasks that I might otherwise avoid.

What advice would you give to amateur photographers wanting to change their passion into a full-time profession? Do they need fancy equipment?

The advice I would give to an amateur photographer who wants to make photography their business would be to learn everything about business and marketing. If your photography skills are at a competent level, and the gear you have is working for you, getting new fancy gear probably doesn't make a huge difference in your business, but getting business training or coaching will.

Find Tracy Munson and her artwork here.