Created by Minneapolis-based photographer, Sarah Beth, Joy Sessions® are special photo sessions just for terminally ill and elderly pets.
They are an opportunity to capture the relationship you have with your pets before they pass. Rather than something sad, it’s meant to be a celebration of their lives, to create tangible memories that you can cherish forever.
Through a variety of press and publications, countless pet owners have heard the term Joy Session®. Sarah Beth created www.joysession.com as a directory of photographers around the world who offer end-of-life pet photography sessions. It’s an easy way for you to explore the options available to you in your area, and make the best decision for your situation.
Joy Sessions® aren’t about pictures of dying pets; they’re about celebrating the relationship and the love you share. They’re about capturing the little things that make them special to you: the expressions, the quirks, the way they lick your cheek or put their paws in your hands. Our pets are only with us for a short time, but they make a huge impact on our lives – why wouldn’t we want to document something so important to us?
There can be a fine line, however, of when it’s no longer appropriate to invest in a session. It’s best when your pets are still looking and feeling good, so the memories we’re capturing will be happy ones, that you can look back on with a smile. If your pet has progressed to a point where you don’t want to remember them this way, then be grateful for any images you do have of when they were healthy; treasure the time you have left, and don’t try to force new photographs that will be painful to look at when they’re gone.
If you are a pet owner who is dealing with the impending loss of a pet, you can search for photographers by location or keyword. All the listed photographers within the parameters you’ve entered will appear on the screen. Premium Listings will be listed at the top, and you can click on their listings to view a sampling of their work, read a little bit about the photographers, and access all of their contact information in one, easy-to-use location.
Explore the Resources for information about the journey of losing a pet, and what options are out there for you.
The blog is a great way to catch a glimpse of what other pet owners and photographers are doing for their photo sessions. You can also connect to the Joy Session® Facebook page to share your own stories and photos.
All the photographers listed here offer their own versions of an end-of-life pet photography session. “Joy Sessions®” are specific to Sarah Beth Photography, LLC.
Premium Listings don’t automatically mean better photographers; this directory is open to everyone who offers end-of-life pet photography sessions. Photographers who have chosen to purchase a Premium Membership want their businesses to stand out, and to help provide a more robust searching experience for you. You can quickly and easily view samples of their work, learn a little about them, and have all their contact information in one convenient location. Premium Members can contribute to the site via blog posts, and learn from each other through a private membership forum.
Inviting someone into your life at this very personal, difficult time is not a decision to take lightly. You want to feel good about the person you’ll be working with, and confident in their abilities. Every photographer runs their own business in their own way; there’s not a “right way” or a “wrong way,” but there is likely a way that either works or doesn’t work for your individual situation.
Start a dialogue with potential photographers, either via email or phone, and see what feels right. When it all comes together and you’ve found a photographer you love, you’ll both be ready to go into your photo session with confidence and accurate expectations.
Some things to consider when selecting a photographer:
Do you like their style of photography?
Can you envision those types of images in your own home?
Does their portfolio maintain the same quality and style of images throughout?
Will they be able to deliver that style for your session?
Does it seem like their personality will be compatible with yours?
Through their writing and images, you can often get a good impression of the type of energy they will bring to their photo shoots.
How close are they to you?
If you like a photographer who’s not in your city, how far are you willing to travel?
Are you willing to pay travel expenses to have them come to you?
What is their availability?
If this is an urgent situation for you, you’ll want to be sure that the photographer can fit you into their schedule.
Can they accommodate your special needs or concerns?
Perhaps your pet can’t leave your home; some photographers may only shoot in a studio or only outdoors. Maybe your pet has large tumors, shaved areas, or a feeding tube; if hiding or eliminating those things is important to you, do they have the ability to remove them in post-processing? Or do they have ideas on how to minimize those areas during the session?
What are their options for sessions and products?
While costs are certainly an important factor, don’t let it be the only factor. Think about what is most valuable to you, and which photographer might be the best for your unique situation. Are you willing to invest in something higher-end, or will you be happy with a smaller package? Are you interested in an album but they only offer digital files? Does the photographer offer payment plans?
Only you can decide if an end-of-life pet photography session is right for you, and your unique situation.
Do I want to remember my pet this way?
There can be a fine line between capturing happy memories with your pet that you’ll look back on with a smile, and capturing a time in your pet’s life that you’d rather not be reminded of. Investing in a professional photography session is not for everyone or every situation, and if you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask the photographer their professional opinion.
How valuable are these images to me?
For many pet owners, end-of-life veterinary care can quickly add up. While you may feel like you’ve already spent too much money, really consider what these photos will mean to you after they’re gone. Most people who choose to invest in a session are incredibly grateful they did it. The photos can help with the grieving process and maintaining a connection with your best friend. Will lingering vet bills be the only thing you have after they’re gone?
How flexible can I be to make this happen?
Work and school schedules may not line up with your desired photographer’s availability. Are you able to take a couple of hours off to capture these memories?
Do I want to be in the photos with my pet?
This could also depend on how your photographer works, but while you may not be super keen on having your photo taken, I really recommend being in at least a couple of the shots. Chances are you have very few images of yourself with your pet (since you’re probably the one taking the picture!) and this is your opportunity to capture those memories.
A photo of just your pet can be beautiful by itself, but if you’re in there with him, embracing him, giving kisses, when you look at those photos later, you will be taken right back to that moment: the smell of the grass, the feel of his fur, how you felt right then and there.
A good photographer should be able to incorporate you into images in a flattering way.