Photographer Captures The Touching Moments Of People Saying Goodbye To Their Pets
Once one makes a decision to get a pet, they take home a new family member. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a dog, a cat, or a hamster, that little or big creature changes everything and becomes a big part of a person’s life. Unfortunately, animals don’t live as long as we would love them to (and that’s their only flaw). Pets bring a lot of joy, but there comes the time when one has to say goodbye to a dear friend.
It is hard to accept the fact that there won’t be snuggles, kisses, and cuddles anymore, therefore one has to find a way to bid farewell that could make the mourning a bit easier. One of them is to take pictures of the last moments together as a reminder of the warmth once felt.
Photographer Lauren Smith-Kennedy is helping those who have to let their pet cross the Rainbow Bridge with free end-of-life photo shoots for the animals and their humans. Her pictures perfectly capture one of the purest forms of love and companionship.
“After doing my first shoot and putting it out there on social media, the response was overwhelming. It became quickly apparent that this service was much needed and very valuable to families. I know how dear our beloved pets are, as I myself am a huge animal lover, and the thought of being able to honor so many lives by using my photography skills was something very powerful and motivating to me,” Lauren told Bored Panda.
In addition to this, she works as the Director of Development for a wildlife rehabilitation center. This past season they had over 140 baby raccoons!
One of the most challenging parts of doing end-of-life pet photography for Lauren is being able to relate to the pain that these owners are going through: “after going through my own journey with grief, and still grieving the loss of my own cat after 4 years, I try to use this familiarity with grief to offer empathy and words of comfort to my clients. Much of the session is spent learning all about their pets and the lives they lived which is such an incredible thing.”
The photographer revealed that each photoshoot is different. “Some sessions are filled with laughter and smiles, belly rubs, and lots of kisses, and others are a bit heavier as you can feel the sadness of the owners. Though love still radiates through all of the sessions I have had.”
“When I have shown my work to the public, there is an overwhelming sense of reliability to the grief of losing a pet. Thousands of people I have never met leave the most thoughtful and kind messages, and offer condolences to the clients I photograph.”
The most memorable moment for Lauren was photographing Moo the 14-year-old chihuahua and his owner, Jill. “There was a moment at the end of the shoot, where Moo gently rested his head on Jill’s hands and looked very gently into the camera. You could just see the love in his eyes. It was a very special moment and one of my favorite photos I’ve captured.”
Lauren also wants to mention that she has created her own organization called “The Tilly Project”, which is an end-of-life pet photography network with over 450 photographers who offer this service worldwide as well as resources for the families.