It’s taken me a while to put this post up, over a year in fact. Mainly because I wasn’t quite ready, which seems ridiculous as this didn’t happen to me, but what did happen to me was that I broke a little bit, and even now, sat here writing this, I can feel that tingling in the nose which means I could tear up at any moment. So I’ll hand you over to Amy, who wrote this post, and you will understand my emotional response. –
Professional photography, and why a mobile camera is never enough.
By Amy Wilton
So I have been thinking about writing this for a long while. We are so fortunate that in this day and age we have so many ways and devices that can capture moments. From top of the range DSLRs, simple compact cameras, tablets, and mobile phones. The list goes on!
We’re so lucky to be able to capture snapshots of life so readily. My phone is absolutely full of photos! However I also do photography myself, so whenever I can, I always ensure I take good quality photographs of my beautiful hounds (and family, when they’ll cooperate) on my camera. I used to be better at ensuring I made time to take photos for me, but the last year or so life has got in the way in one way or another.
That said, I did have thousands (and I mean thousands) of photos of my beautiful dogs. Especially of my special oldie dog Holly. We rescued Holly when she was 7 years old; she’d spent all those as the victim of unscrupulous breeding. She’d been pushed from pillar to post, each one breeding another litter from her. By the time we had her, she was a poorly skinny scrap of a dog. Her teeth were rotten and you could see most bones in her frail little body, and yet, she was the sweetest little thing with a heart of gold.
So there began her rehabilitation, and our bond. Immediately, I was the one out of the whole of my family she bonded to. Anywhere I’d go, Holly would follow. Another room, the bathroom, my sweet shadow would follow. A few months in, she then started to be able to detect when my blood glucose levels were going out of range (I am a type 1 diabetic) and would warn me before I got symptoms. Her story was then shared and she won the Daily Mirror’s Animal Hero Awards for ‘Caring Animal of the Year’ in 2015, and then appeared on ITVs ‘The Secret Life of Dogs’ in February 2017.
I always made sure I took many photos of this special girl on my camera, but equally I wanted photos of Holly and I together. Sometimes handing your camera over to someone else, no matter how hard you both try, just does not quite work. Not quite the angle, the focusing being a little off, despite the amount of times you try to explain ‘Put the square in the view finder on the eye…back button focusing.” Etc.
So you then resort to phone photographs, which are great. They’re instant, easy to set up and you can just hand it to someone to point and shoot. You can share them straight to social media, even better. However, if you do photography, you’ll know the quality in the photo just never quite compares.
So I knew at some point I wanted to commission a professional photographer to take photos of Holly and I. Someone I could put complete trust in, and I knew would take the photos that I was truly after. Along came Kerry. I had long admired Kerry’s work and after winning a family photoshoot a few years ago, and her becoming a friend. I just knew I wanted her to take some of Holly and myself together. To help capture and put into a photo, that bond that we had.
The shoot was booked in for the Sunday and had been for a while. I then got a hospital app through for the Wednesday prior to have my troublesome wisdom teeth removed, and I thought, “Yeah I’ll be fine!” Actually, I was released the same day then readmitted to hospital on the on Thursday with a huge infection.
I managed to leave hospital late on the Saturday, but of course didn’t tell Kerry, or reschedule. I still looked like a hamster with very puffy cheeks but I thought, time is not on our side. If I rearrange, I don’t know when the opportunity to do this will be. Driving over, we had road closures that made us over half an hour late, so arrived rather frazzled. But we still went ahead, despite everything.
I am SO glad we did. Just over a month later, my poor girl had to be let go at age 15 ½ years. Those photos became invaluable. So many memories and emotions tied to them. My heart broke in two; this sweet little girl who had been there for me throughout my teen and adult years was gone.
It meant choosing photos was hard. Really hard. I couldn’t actually choose until nearly a year later. The photos were so beautiful; but it was so painful to look at that them when it was so raw. But when the time came Kerry was there, understanding and supportive. I am over the moon with my photos.
So all I can say to anyone thinking of doing a photoshoot is don’t hesitate, book one. Phone photos just don’t compare. You never know when you’re going to lose a loved one. Once they’re gone, they are the things you truly cherish.
So I finished the above post, not long ago and had been meaning to send it to Kerry. But I hadn’t, for one reason or another. Again, life gets in the way. So, as I hadn’t, it wouldn’t be right to send it without adding the following. It has the made the above even more poignant, and tinged with ever more sadness. But some things need to said.
A week or so ago, I messaged Kerry in floods of tears. My Grandad was right at the end of his life. He was young really as far as Grandad ages go, at only 72. But the chemo that was supposed to help knock the cancer back had done the opposite and caused his kidneys and liver to fail in less than 2 days. I knew when I saw him in hospital; it would be for the last time.
I had to go back home, and through tears I started going through photos of the happier memories, and the way I wanted to remember my Grandad. Not the very poorly, weaker version of him I had seen the previous day. When photos are important to you, you seek solace in times similar to those. So that is what I did.
Then I came across some of the first photos Kerry had taken for my family. I won one of Kerry’s competitions back in 2014 for a family photoshoot. So we packed up the family, including my Grandad as he was visiting with the hounds, and had this shoot on the beach with Kerry. To this day they are still my favourite of all five of us (plus the hounds!) together. The ones especially of my brother, my Dad and my Grandad are truly special.
So I guess this is a thank you to Kerry. Three loved ones she’s taken photos of for me have now been cruelly taken away from me. But I have some beautiful photos to remember them by. Thank you doesn’t really quite cut it does it?
So if you’re reading this and are thinking “Maybe I should book that photoshoot…” please don’t delay and remember time is precious. The memories captured are priceless.
I’ve been photographing dogs for about 6 years now, and I’ve lost count of how many clients have contacted me to say their dog has passed, not all old either, some in the prime of their life. Every single time, it breaks a little part of me. Firstly because I bond with the dogs I photograph, but secondly it reminds me that my own dogs wont be around forever. If you’d like to know more, or want to book a shoot, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and lets create memories.