Every once in a while a client catches you off guard and you end up a little further into a project than you planned. I was hired while still in college to perform some portrait photography and that job has been ongoing for almost 13 years.
When starting out as a working photographer, you’ll literally take any job that lands in your lap. In my second year of college, I was approached by a family acquaintance to photograph her pet Rottweiler. It was fall, 2003 and the weather was crisp and the sun was hanging low in the sky. Originally I was tasked with photographing only the dog, a sweet critter called Onyx. After some salesmanship I was taking photos of them together. It was easy, they were such close friends all I had to do was bear witness to the relationship and record it honestly.
Working with pets is a lot less complicated than working with engaged couples or making portraits of children. Dogs in particular are pretty straight forward. A dog is a dog, and doesn’t give a toss about anything but being a dog to the very best of its ability. Dog-people get this. Dog-people are generally decent folks who are willing to let things like slobbery pants and sneaky farts and muddy feet slide for love. Dogs understand real love, and dog-people understand real love by proxy. It’s got to be hard to give yourself honestly to another person unless you’ve given your heart to a dog knowing full-well they’ll be leaving you sooner than you’d want. Can’t fully know the sweet without tasting the bitter.
On delivery of these images my client was happy to see herself in with the dog on some of the photos, even though she had told me she wasn’t interested in having photos like these done. I explained that the dog was only half the story, that they were clearly best pals and one wasn’t the same without the other. This launched us into some further conversation and a pot of tea, some cheesecake and still more conversation.
Some situations feel right and you need to have the courage to roll with them, regardless of your circumstances. After this we chatted all the time, agreed and disagreed and discovered either was OK as long as we kept talking. We’ve never really stopped talking and have been married for 12 years in 2016. I was privileged to marry my best friend because I took photos of her best friend. We lost Onyx in 2011 after a life full of walks, car rides and almost-empty yogurt cups. Lori still hasn’t paid me for the photos.
These images were shot Kodak TMZ with a Canon EOS 1n.