I am honored to be featured in Kansas City’s most inspiring stories. Check out the full article on the VoyageKC website.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Starr.
Hi Jennifer, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
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 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.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
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.
Some challenges are convincing people they should do one of these sessions. Many people think it will be too depressing. I always tell people to think of this session like they would any other photo session. Just because it’s a session for aging or ill dogs doesn’t mean it will be sad. My advice is not to let that apprehension drive your decision to have a photo session. I’ve been told numerous times how pleasant the experience is and sometimes clients are even shocked how their pet behaves as if they aren’t even sick. Something about the new experience and exciting atmosphere brings life back into some pets.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’ve always felt having tangible memories of family is SO important. This of course includes pets too. After our loved ones are gone, photos are what we hold close and help us reminisce about happy times. A couple of years into my pet photography journey, I created Going with Grace, offering my custom photography services 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.
It’s important for me to stay strong for the pet parents in these photos. If I can’t hold it together, how can I expect them to? With that said, I’ve absolutely cried at my computer as I edit images. It’s usually when I am scrolling through the images and reflect on the microexpressions of my clients – expressions I wasn’t even aware of while I was shooting. It takes a toll on my heart but hearing how much the photos mean to people is what keeps me strong and dedicated to the cause. I just always hope these moments I freeze in time will bring pet parents some peace during the difficult days ahead.
Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
My heart is most happy when I am photographing pets, especially those nearing end of life. It helps remind me of my purpose in life. Once upon a time, I wanted to be a Vet. I longed to help animals, comfort pet owners and work with furry creatures in my career. While I am not a Vet and I don’t save lives – I do hope that my photography brings peace to pet parents experiencing the pain of losing a pet.