Maternity + Family

Preserving Memories of Your Pet with a Personal Portrait Session

January 29, 2018

By Jacqueline Tobin

All Photos © Kristen Kidd

Last October, serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and photographer Chase Jarvis wowed PhotoPlus Expo attendees with their keynote presentation on how to carve out a successful photo business amidst a glut of shooters flooding the industry. Their advice: go niche—the narrower the better.

Kristen Kidd would most likely agree. In 2017, the North Wales, Pennsylvania, photographer decided to specialize in pet lifestyle photography and more specifically, end-of-life pet sessions.

“I spent a lot of time with my mother in a nursing home where she was a geriatric nurse and I was a volunteer,” Kidd explains. “Later, I worked as a social worker directly in people’s homes and communities. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and the natural life process of grieving is something I took on early in my life, and it has afforded me the ability to work in emotional spaces that are complicated. These experiences laid the groundwork for my end-of-life pet sessions.”

Kidd says as pets enter into and progress through their adult lives, pet owners are more likely to pursue ensuring that they have a reminder of what that special creature has uniquely meant to them. “As a result, I’ve photographed many pets in their elder years,” she says.

The best way to approach such a shoot, says Kidd, is to be “an emotional archeologist.” Her advice: “Find out what this pet means to them, their emotional connection, their history (what they have faced together), what they love most about that pet and then capture that. This is about a relationship. The person who wants end-of-life photos likely does not want a typical show-dog style portrait session.”

Related: 7 Photography Pointers For Posing Pets With Their Owners

How I Got That: Pet Personality With Kristie Lee

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