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CELEBRATION OF LIFE
PET portrait guide

reserved for aged & ailing pets
pets are family.

They provide us with everlasting love, trust and affection. It can be hard to let our beloved fur friends go. Whether it be due to old age or illness, pet owners may not think to capture the last memories they have with their pet. That is when I come in, I will capture precious moments between you and your animal that will last a lifetime.

This service is provided at no cost at this time, and is booked around my current availability. Celebration of Life sessions are reserved for pets that are either at the end of their life (senior pets), and/or pets that have received a terminal diagnosis. You can devote the time entirely to capturing images of your pet or join in if you wish. We will create heartwarming images and beautiful memories to celebrate the joy and love between you and your pet during this difficult time. If you would like photography for your pet but they do not meet this criteria (or you aren’t sure if they do), please contact me.
what every client needs to know 

It is a true honor and privilege to be your photographer. I'm honored to be working with The Tilly Project as an affiliate photographer. (Read more about that below.) As a lifelong animal lover and pet owner myself, I know all too well the hole that is left behind when one of our furry friends passes on. It's an ache that cannot be soothed easily. In times of grief, I've found that photos and videos bring me comfort and help me remember all the good times.

Whether you've spent a short time or a lifetime with your pet, saying goodbye is the hardest thing you'll have to do. The reality of losing our beloved companions can feel incredibly sad, but Celebration of Life Sessions are designed to be a celebration of your relationship with your pet. My goal is simple: for your session to be as carefree and personal as possible. I want to invite you to share stories and play with your pet and enjoy their presence while I capture your interactions. We will share in joy and sadness together. 

The following notes will help you get the absolute most out of your photos. By the time you’ve read through, you'll feel ready and prepared for your session. This guide is packed with my best tips and tricks for scheduling and styling your pet's end-of-life session. Your only job is to be yourself, be present, and let me do the rest! 
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when to schedule 
your session


As your pet ages, it can be hard to tell when the end is near. The term “end-of-life” can be such an umbrella term. Some people mistakenly think they have to wait until ‘the end’ to take photos, but I strongly recommend planning ahead. Get the photos done while your pet is still happy and acting like themself. I find most owners prefer photos that show their pets while they’re still feeling good, as that’s how they want to remember them.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you think your session may be needed urgently. I incorporate Celebration of Life sessions into my current work schedule but every effort will be made to accommodate your desired session date. The Tilly Project has a list of photographers from around the world. If I'm not able to meet your need, I'm sure another photographer could.


 

This type of session certainly isn't for everyone--and that's okay! Only you will know if choosing a Celebration of Life Session is right for you and your pet. While I encourage you to capture the memories of your pet while they are happy and feeling/looking good, there may come a time in your pet's life when they have progressed to a point that you don't want to remember them in that way. If that is the case, do not feel bad about simply appreciating the photos that you already have of them, rather than forcing yourself into a session that may result in images too heart-wrenching to look at once your pet has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, take comfort in spending the remaining time you have left together. You will value that time just as much.

choosing the location
The location of your photo session is completely up to you

For most of my clients celebrating the life of their dog, outdoor, open-air environments are always my first choice. I love shooting in wide-open natural spaces because the light is divine, especially during golden hour. Local parks offer beautiful natural settings and many can be accessible even for dogs of limited mobility.

Your home can also be a great location. My clients with cats often choose to have their end of life session in their home as cats traditionally don't enjoy traveling. Dogs with more advanced conditions or more severely limited mobility may also be best suited for an at home end of life session.

Keep in mind that our beloved pets do act out from time to time in new environments or with new people; the best way to deal with this during a shoot is with patience and flexibility.
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planning your time
Allow yourself more time than you think you'll actually need

My golden hour sessions begin 1-2 hours before the scheduled sunset, when the light in the sky is the softest, dreamiest, and most flattering. You can use a sunset calculator like this one to determine the scheduled sunset for the date and location you’d like to do your session.

When you’re planning "getting ready" time before your session, please give yourself a lot more time than you think you'll need. Make sure to account for things like traffic, getting lost
, and parking, so you can prevent unnecessary stress, arrive a few minutes early to your session and be ready to start on time. I’m only able to shoot when light is still in the sky, so we’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together before the sun goes down! 

Indoor sessions typically occur in the morning or early afternoon to get the best light in your home. 
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celebrating life

An end of life pet photography session isn’t a sad occasion. Yes, there may be some sad moments and acknowledgement of the loss you’re preparing for, but this session is a celebration of the life your pet has lived, the journey you have been on together, and the relationship you have shared.

As we plan for your session, I will provide a questionnaire for you to tell me about your favorite memories, the things your pet most loves, and most unique physical traits. I’ll use these notes to design a custom session that will help create a new favorite memory for you with your pet and let you hold on to those memories in the form of beautiful images.

The Celebration of Life Sessions that mean the most are filled with time to snuggle close, favorite treats & toys, and most importantly – time you’ve set aside to reflect on the relationship you share. 

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your story

Our time with our furry friends is so fleeting, especially during this time. We'll step back from the uncertainty and stress and slow all that down with a calm, relaxed session. Your pet is my top priority. This is your story at your pace.



IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS

It's never "just a" dog or "just a" pet. It's the little things that you’ll want to remember forever: the way your dog's paw felt in your hand, his familiar expressions, those funny quirks, and the love you share with one another. I promise to approach our time together with zero judgment and complete compassion. We'll get up close and personal and capture as many of those favorite little details as your pet will allow. 



sensitive delivery of images

Images are normally delivered within 4 weeks of your session. When a pet passes, some people want to see the images right away while other people aren’t ready to look at them for a few months. I will patiently wait until you are ready to deliver the images. 
how to
prep your family
Setting expectations before the session is the key to great photos.

Before your session, it’s a good idea to prepare your family for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior. After you do your best to prepare them, give yourself (and everyone) some grace! My goal is to make this as stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family. The focus will be on your family's interaction with your pet and capturing genuine and tender moments. 

I will guide you into light posing with prompts and direction so that your pet remains the center of attention. 


 
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featured way to remember

Celebration of Life Sessions are about being able to hold and keep the whole memory of you, your family, and your pet. Preserve the feeling and the memories in a beautiful hand-crafted, press printed album
that can be looked at over and over. 

Photo books start at $300 and can be added on at any time.
what is the tilly project?
The Tilly Project is a non-profit that connects pet owners with end-of-life pet photographers across the world, and provides accessible, educational, and supportive resources for photography, anticipatory grief, and pet loss/bereavement. 

With an ailing pet, I know there can be significant expenses related to their care. At this time, I'm offering Celebration of Life Sessions free of charge because I believe everyone deserves to have beautiful portraits of their pets. If you are able, I recommend making a donation in your pet's name to a verified pet charity or The Tilly Project to support their incredible mission. 
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