I am so excited to share I was recently featured on the Pet Resource Radio podcast! You can listen by visiting the below links. And be sure to check out my Facebook page for a chance to win a FREE Going with Grace photo session!
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/2YW0ufx
General Summary of Interview
Jennifer Starr started FixYourImages in 2005 doing photo restoration. She eventually moved into pet photography and then, in 2012, established Pets Going with Grace, a division of her business meant to provide a professional quality photo shoot for senior or critically ill pets. We’ve got her on the podcast today to talk about her work and why it’s important to pay attention to those different life stages. Welcome to Pet Resource Radio, Jennifer.
Thank you so much for having me. I am excited to be here!
1. Let’s just jump right in. What was the impetus in starting Pets Going with Grace?
So as my journey as a pet photographer progressed, I received more and more requests from people who needed emergency sessions. Typically, they would tell me their pet was diagnosed with cancer or another unexpected illness and wanted to capture their pet before they crossed the bridge. I began to realize there was a demand for a special type of session to celebrate each pet’s life and the bond with their owner. I created Pets Going with Grace to offer custom photography for senior or critically ill pets at a reduced rate. I hoped offering a discount would encourage more people to have their pets photographed, since so many are also juggling the expenses of end of life care.
2. Let’s talk about Abby a little bit.
Oh, Abby. We still miss our sweet girl. She crossed the bridge in 2018. She actually brought me and my husband together back in 2012. We met at a local dog park. She was only 5 then, but over the years developed health issues like Cushings Disease and complications from intestinal surgeries. After our vet told us they didn’t want to put her under for a routine dental cleaning at age 11, I decided to take an updated portrait and compare it to the very first photo I took of her. After seeing the side by side, I couldn’t ignore the obvious decline of her health. I encourage everyone listening to photograph your pet over the years, not only for the lasting memories but to remind yourself of the state of their health.
3. What is a session like?
So I start by photographing just your pet and then once they are comfortable with the camera, I invite family members in for posed shots. But then the true magic happens when people interact candidly and forget I’m there. Some of the favorite moments I capture are those impromptu kisses and loving gazes that speak right to your heart. I try to ensure every session is a celebration of life. We do occasionally get teary eyed toward the end of the session, but I strive to keep everything upbeat and positive.
4. How do you handle problems like compassion fatigue? It can’t be easy to work with so many people who are coming to terms with their pet’s condition?
These sessions definitely take a toll on my heart and I can relate to those experiencing compassion fatigue. My heart is heavy after I read session requests and even more heavy when they share with me their pet passes. But I remain passionate about this service because I see how much these photos mean to people, especially after they say goodbye. It’s the heartfelt messages from people telling me how thankful they are that really keep me strong.
5. Any anecdotes you care to share about pets who touched you?
Yes, for sure. I truly mean it when I say every pet I photograph has a special place in my heart, but I’ll talk about a very recent session specifically. I met and photographed Vinnie 10 years ago at a local rescue when he was up for adoption. One of my coworkers at the time saw this photo and their family adopted him. They gave him a wonderful life. She reached out to me a few weeks ago because she knew about my service and he was suddenly given only a few days or weeks to live. After that emergency session, my heart broke but I was also humbled and honored that people trust me with these delicate moments in their life. It was a reminder how time sensitive these sessions are as well – Vinnie crossed the rainbow bridge just 4 days after his session.
6. Do you have any tips and tricks for folks at home trying to get good pics of their pets?
Absolutely – my two secrets are treats and squeaky toys. I never take pet photos without a bag of Pupperoni and a bone shaped rubber squeaker. Your pet is bound to be motivated by one of those two items. If you are snapping with your phone, ask your pet to sit by offering a treat and then hold the treat near the lens of your phone so they continue to look your direction. That will usually hold their attention long enough for a few shots. I also make insanely high pitched noises which causes dogs to give you that really animated head tilt.
7. If people want to find out more about your work, where can they go?