By Ellie Sophia / Oct 15, 2018
Sam wanted to be on the holiday card. I have taken hundreds of family portraits, and I love it when families bring their pets along. Many of the images I have taken included a fur baby but I never focused more than an image or two on the pet alone. That all changed when I met Sam. This particular photoshoot was planned to take place at the families' home. The home looked stunning and everyone took great care to dress up and get ready for the shoot. When I arrived you could feel the excitement in the air, and apparently so could Sam. I got my lights ready and arranged the family near the Christmas tree and Sam, completely on his own, took his spot in front. Mom apologized and went to grab him when I stopped her and said I think he wants to be in the picture. The entire family relaxed and smiled and Sam posed himself perfectly and smiled with his little gnarly tooth for the camera. Sam was included in a few more images and then I snapped a quick one of him alone before the photoshoot moved to a second location. When the Lowry family later reviewed their images they chose the image with Sam front and center as the cover of their holiday Christmas card.
In June of this year I got this Text:
"Remember our photo session for the Christmas card last year when our dog Sam kept getting in the picture? You said he clearly wanted to be there. Anyway, he died yesterday. We are very sad. That was the last photo we have of him and it was a great one."
My heart absolutely broke. I ran home and dug through the images I had taken to find the one I remembered I had taken of him alone. It wasn't one I had delivered, due to it having been taken in a bad location with no lighting. I knew I had to do something special with it though. At the time I had been perfecting my digital painting technique but I had never attempted the technique on a pet. Painting in the hair was time consuming, but when it was complete, I couldn't have been more pleased and neither could his family. Now Sam has a beautiful canvas displayed in their home, to remember him by.
Sam was the second pet that I photographed, that ended up being their last image. I couldn't shake the feeling that I had to do better. I didn't want my pet images to be an after thought any longer, I wanted them to become a focus, and now they are.
All images © 2018 Ellie Sophia Photography LLC
Sam and Jack