Occasionally I "shop" for photographers in the area to find others I would recommend to families. I may not be the right choice for a variety of reasons, and when we figure that out I want to be ready with a recommendation or two of a photographer I think would be a great match.
I noticed a pattern the last time I shopped online: in each of the 14 websites I visited, the photographer promised to "capture the personality" of you pet or something that sounds a lot like that.
A good photographer reflects the personality and mood of the subject. I want to see personality.
I like that. I want to see personality. I also want to see more than personality.
I'm after soul, not personality.
I want the story. I want to feel like I am diving into the world of whoever is in front of the lens. I want to see personality, sure. That's just the beginning.
I want to feel something. When I look at the photograph later, I want to have a visceral reaction of feeling about the animal. More importantly, I want you to see your cat in print and feel her in the room with you, even if she isn't. I want you to look at the photograph of your dog and feel the essence of him.
I can't do any of that if I focus on personality. My goal is beyond that.
When I read a book or watch a movie, I want to follow the hero's story. There is a protagonist I am rooting for, and she is on a journey. An author or screenwriter or director that concentrated on making her personality known page by page or scene by scene would have something that almost no one wants to read or watch. The hero is more than personality. She has values. She has history. She has dreams and quirks. She has a core that wraps all of that up and makes her who she is. If an author, screenwriter, or director can convince me that I know the hero, I'm all in. That's the kind of experience I want, because if I'm going to tag along on the journey, I want to be invested in it.
Your animal is the hero in his own story. He's had ups and downs. He's fought battles and learned lessons. His personality comes through in all of that, and yet it's the deeper stuff that shows who he is while he is on his hero's journey that endears you.
You know every little thing about him. He deserves to be represented as more than personality. He deserves to have his story told, and you deserve to see it in a way that's going to put him right there beside you.
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.