Why Taking Photos With My Dogs Became So Important

This is part of our Saturday Editorial Series. Normally, we let the dogs do all the talking every weekday! Consider becoming a supporter of this blog here!

I have about a hundred million photographs of my dogs.  Maybe more.  Since we adopted Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake from the shelter, I have documented every moment in the snap of a picture, and oh yes, a blog everyday. My phone is constantly full of pictures. Sometimes I wonder if anyone else is like this!

My photography skills!

But one thing that I have never wanted to do is to get pictures with my dogs professionally taken.  I have my reasons.  First, I didn’t feel that professional pictures could ever capture real life moments.

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I don’t like things to be staged at all.  We may not have the most visually appealing social media channels, but one thing I have always taken pride in is that we are real.  That is what we choose to be, pretty or not.  Well, Brickle is always pretty.

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It also seemed to me that emotionally, it would not be a great idea to have our pictures taken by someone else.  First of all, I don’t like my own picture taken.  Do I really look like that?! Am I this old? Why did I wear that?  And I had in the back of my mind that years later, I would not want to feel the emotions it would bring to look back on these moments.  It would be easier to remember them in my mind compared to the heartache of loss.  I didn’t even want to know the pictures were there. That’s real.  That’s honest.  I didn’t want to do it.

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You already probably know that we are full-time travelers and documented our “48 States, 48 Rescues” tour all along the way.  Sure, we took a lot of great pictures. But I felt like those pictures were more about the work we were doing.  And I wanted to feel…really feel…my dogs’ personalities.  I wanted to see them thru someone else’s eyes.  I didn’t want to have to worry about lighting or positions or how others would like our pictures.  I wanted them for me.  But I had to talk myself into it.  Because it was going to be emotionally draining for me.

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I talk quite often about the battle I have with depression. I have to protect myself at all costs sometimes from things or memories that can spark unwanted emotions or emotions that are too overwhelming. And taking pictures with my dogs was really asking for it!  Could I do it?  I kept putting it off.

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Then, one day at camp a few weeks ago, I met a family.  We struck up conversation and shared our struggles with camping, camping with dogs and our dogs’ little quirks.  Cynthia told me she was a photographer and wanted to take our pictures.  I immediately knew I would say no.  But trying to be polite, I stalled.  In that moment of hesitation, I recalled the last few months with my dogs.

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We had almost lost Digby forever to pancreatitis.


Brickle was getting older too. Well, we all were.

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So I told Cynthia I would do it.  I had someone right here wanting to do this as a gift! How could I turn this down? Yet, it still took me two weeks to follow thru. I thought of every reason to cancel.  Would the dogs be ok with this? Would the pictures make me sad? Would they cooperate enough to even get one shot?  But I knew with every question I could find an excuse.  In my heart though, I wanted to do this. Despite what I was telling myself, I had to own up to that fact I had always secretly wanted to do this for one reason. They were my family. And no matter what the future would bring, right now…these moments could live forever.  And I could look at them any time I wanted.  I was going to do this. And I did.  And I am so grateful.

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Am I alone in how I feel about taking pictures with my dogs? I asked Cynthia of CMA Photography, the amazing photographer of these images a few questions.

Why do you think it’s important for people to capture memories with photos?
“I think it’s important for people to capture memories with photos because it’s our documentation of our personal history. Pictures play a huge role in our past, they spark memories of moments in our worlds that we might not otherwise remember, they help us remember who we were versus who we’ve grown into. By allowing me to photograph your raw moments, sharing your true truth with me, it’s a gift you give your future self.”

What seems to stress out dog parents about getting pictures done?
“What I believe seems to stress dog parents out mostly is their dogs behavior. It’s a funny thing, because dog parents along with human parents stress about the same things! If their dog child or human child isn’t being at their very best, parents stress out! When I photograph them I like to ask parents to please not overly discipline while it our session time. I say… let’s play, let’s laugh, let’s get those truly raw moments that you’ll be thankful for, the pictures will be so much better than a picture memory that shows stress and no fun.”

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I will say that picking the right photographer as a pet parent is key.  Make it fun, and be real.

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I was stressed at first, but quickly realized that I had made the best decision for me.   Whether we choose to live in the moment or look back on the past, I am glad that I have that option now.  Why did I change my mind?  For me, I see my dogs and the beauty that gets only deeper with their age, with their wisdom, with their experience.  We make each other better by simply sharing our lives together.  And looking at our pictures now, I may get tears in my eyes, but not out of sadness.  It is out of joy that I had the privilege to share my life with these dogs.  I don’t need pictures to remember that, but maybe in the future when I am sad, depressed or down, I will feel what I felt this day just by looking at us together.

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-Rachael Johnson, Co-Founder Of 2 Traveling Dogs and Your Dog’s Diner

Thank you to Cynthia and CMA Photograpy. We were not compensated for this post, and all opinions are our own. If you want to book a session with CMA Photography, please mention 2 Traveling Dogs and receive a 30% discount! Visit their website at www.cmaphotography.net.  E-mail:memories@cmaphotography.net or call 904-778-5530. CMA is available for travel worldwide.

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