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!

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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.

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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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That Would Make A Really Good Picture

This is Deputy Digby Pancake.  Have you ever had someone follow you around all of the time and watch everything you do? Like, they love you so much that everything you do is cute? Everything you do is amazing? Everything you do is worth taking a picture of?  Well, welcome to my life.

Yes, yes, I should be used to it by now.  When Girl Person says “picture” we know to stop wherever we are and look at the camera.  No, our pictures aren’t what some persons would call professional…or special.  But Girl Person says they are real.  And real things are hard to come by nowadays.

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Some days we feel like smiling.  Some days, we don’t.  Some days the lighting is good.  Some days it’s not.  But that is how life is when you live in the moment. You don’t fake it.  Dogs don’t know how to fake it anyway.

Yesterday, it was raining and raining some more. It got cold here again in this Florida place just when we put away all our winter clothes. But after the rain stopped for a little while, Girl Person said it would do us good to take a ride and take a hike.  And we agreed.  After she lured us out the door with a turkey meatball.

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It had been about six months since we had been to Fort Caroline here in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a good place for us to go.  There is stuff to learn about, history to ponder over and that’s for the persons.  For Brickle and I, there are a few trails and we can even go in the fort.  Places where they let us where the persons go are our favorite of all because we get to feel special.  And that’s always a good feeling.

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Girl Person told us while we were at the fort that we needed to snap a few pictures so our people could see where we went.  But the problem was, her hands were cold. And so every time she wanted to take a picture, she had to take off her gloves. And they aren’t just regular gloves. No, they are gardening gloves. Because when you live in the Florida place, you don’t think you will ever need gloves.  And that’s all you have.

And it was cold.  Very cold.  And she didn’t want to take off her gloves. So she wondered if those pictures were really important.  And I knew that they weren’t.  Because she was having more fun not taking a picture.  And we ran up and down the hills, gazed over at the river, and then we climbed to the top where we could get a really good view.  And that’s when we heard someone say, “That would make a really good picture.”

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Girl Person laughed and told her it sure would.  And yet, she didn’t rush to get out her camera. No, she just let us be.  She let us look around.  She let us be ourselves and not have to pose.  No one likes to be “on” all of the time.  And really, when are we most beautiful? When we pretend to be happy, or when we are really happy?  When we pretend to be beautiful, or when we are beautiful?  Because beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.

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Some may take a little longer to find their beauty.  It is much easier to take that picture and smile.  But how wonderful is it when we catch ourself smiling in the mirror with no one watching?  Now, that would make a really good picture.  Can you work on that today?  Take a walk, take a hike, go to your happy place.  You know where it is.  You know what makes for a good picture.  Now, take it.

-Deputy Digby Pancake

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