I have a tendency to limit the images of client families I share online. I don't share sneak peaks on Facebook or blog posts that include 20+ images of my most recent photography session.
I don't share those because it doesn't feel right to me. Your life is your business.
Although I retain copyright and ownership rights that allow me to use the photographs I create in any manner, it's more important to me to honor the relationships I have with the families I serve than to promote my business. What other people may see as images of "just" dogs, cats, horses, and bunnies I see as glimpses into intimate spaces full of love and a jumble of other intense emotions.
I am often with people who are coming to terms with mortality. We all expect to outlive our animal companions; it feels different when advanced age shows on a daily basis or a diagnosis comes that is . . . limiting. Witnessing such changes show in different physical abilities or increased pain is a special kind of heartbreaking. It's also intensely heart-opening.
It's not for me to decide to share that. It's not my life.
I wouldn't post or share images of a close friend or family member without that person's permission. I use the same discretion for you and your family.
If you want me to share your story, I will. Otherwise your life remains your business.
I'll continue to share pieces of mine, like Rhys up above. I'm honored that you invite me into your life to see your love.
It doesn't matter how many years pass - the time after goodbye remains an uncharted ocean. Waves of grief come out of nowhere. Some days are quiet, reflective, and beautiful. Other days feel stormy.
Grief doesn't get easier. It changes.
Looking back on photographs can help connect you to the times you shared together. When I started doing this work, I thought it would be the joyful photographs that provided the most comfort for people. I've been surprised to see how much of an impact the other images have - the care that happens during the end of life, the dog's-eye-view of the staircase she can no longer climb, the seemingly constant sleeping while bundled for warmth.
These images, which are full of love rather than joy, make a tremendous difference.
In the end, it really doesn't matter how well the body works. It doesn't matter what kinds of things you can do together.
What matters is that you have each other. What matters is love.
I think you can see that in any photograph because you heart is so full. It's the quiet moments without distraction that will overflow on you. Seeing those from your own life and time together is . . . well, it's love. Just love.
I'm Shannon, and I love and am loved by four Great Danes, four cats, and one horse (four Danes, one cat, and one horse are no longer walking this earth). Here I'll share stories of my adventures in grief photography for companion animals, my own grief journey, and thoughts on caregiving.