In Ellen Boughn's book about microstock "Microstock Money Shots - turning downloads into dollars with microstock photography" she has a list of subjects to avoid.
One of interest to me, since I've been taking a lot of pet photos over the past few months, is "Your Pet". Here is what she has to say:
"Your pet, unless the animal is very ugly, really funny, and unbelievably cute or is a prop in photos with people. A photo of your sleeping cat is especially boring."
Its true, any subject be it a tomato or a pet that is accessible to many people is going to be shot to death so one has to bring something extra special to the table. This is what I've been attempting with shots of my dog and some of his friends.
One photographer that I've come to know here on Dreamstime that has had a lot of success with images of his dog and cat is Michael Pettigrew.
Michael's dog and cat have provided some of the most popular pet shots on DT and recently I got this local advertising magazine called "4 Legs and a Tail". It articles on pet care and is sponsored by local businesses. I spotted at least three uses of Michael's images in the ads. Talk about a top model - that dog is famous!
The key to Michael's success, besides getting into stock during the heyday, is positioning his pets in situations that are useful in advertising. Basically the market for pet shots is going to be calendars, cards, blogs or advertising. For the card and calendar market you'll want something impossibly cute or funny. Blogs are most likely looking for something to illustrate a petcare or how to and advertising wants to be able to put their message with the photo.
When photographing your pet you need to look beyond the snapshot and think about the potential usage of the image to buyer.