Depending on how long you’ve been following my work, you may or may not know that I started on this path of pet photography because of our dog Little Bit. She was the first dog that my wife and I adopted after we were married and she was a special girl. For the first six years of our life together we didn’t take many photos. We had a point and shoot film camera (yeah, I know that makes me sound old) and well, we mostly kept it tucked away in a drawer.
In 2003, Robin gave me my first digital camera. I enjoyed using it but I still can’t say I took a lot of photos of my pack (we had added Lyle by then) rather I mostly pointed my camera at nature (flowers, trees, well, you get the idea). That changed in December of 2004. See, our girl Little Bit was diagnosed with lymphoma and it hit us fairly hard. It was only then that I realized we didn’t actually have many photos of our dogs (not to mention the rest of our family) so I made a clear decision to change that and I decided that I needed to photograph Little Bit while she was still with us. One thing led to another and now I’m a pet photographer.
Today I’m sure you know that Robin and I live with Lyle, Spring, and Maebe (listed in order of appearance). We live a long way from the rest of our family so I don’t get the opportunity to photograph them as much as I might like but I do make an effort to regularly use my cameras (pro gear and otherwise) at home.
You might wonder where this is coming from – don’t worry, everyone is healthy – I think it comes from a few places. First, our dogs are all seniors. Spring is the youngest at 12 and we know that they will not live forever. As much as we hope they have a number of healthy years ahead of them it isn’t our place to know how long they will be with us. Mostly though, this comes from the fact that one of my colleagues at HeARTs Speak recently lost her dog and grief was compounded by the fact that she didn’t have more photos of her pup.
So I’d like to encourage you to do a few things – first make a dedicated and regular effort to photograph (and make videos) of your loved ones. Not only will you appreciate those images of your lives as you grow older, you’ll also have cherished reminders of your loved ones when they are no longer with you. Second, I know many of us would rather be behind the camera than in front of it but make an effort to include yourself in some of those photos too. You are an important part of your loved ones’ lives and they want photos of you too. Third, consider hiring a professional photographer from time to time too. Candid photos are great – I take them all of the time – but so are professionally made portraits and I think there is a real place for both. And finally, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that photographing life is more important than experiencing life – sometimes you just need to put your camera away and enjoy the memories you make with your loved ones.
Go give your loved ones a hug then find your camera and start making some portraits. You’ll thank me later.