"Me with our old dog, Baggins."
That's what my friend replied when I asked her what kinds of pictures she wished she had from her childhood. I asked her that in mid-February.
Fast forward one month and we lost our dear cat Molly who was with us for more than 16 years.
After we broke the news to our girls, we all sat on the couch and looked through an old photo album from when Molly and her brother Desmond were kittens. It was healing and comforting to see them young and bright.
The album pictures came from an era before cell phone cameras and before I had a digital camera. Pages and pages of pictures that were shot on FILM and developed at a drug store. Most of the pictures were of the cats themselves, but the ones I was most drawn to were me and my husband WITH the cats.
Those pictures brought me back to the moment.
Like the photos of Molly resting her head against my husband's chin as she laid on his chest. I saw her do that just the day before she died.
But for all those drug-store snapshots, I came up short when I thought about what photos I have of our girls with the cats.
Because once the girls were here, that's where my photo attention turned. This past year I've been more intentional about taking pictures of our pets (we now have two young male cats in the mix), BUT I've been moved to shoot them mainly when they're in beautiful light or doing something obnoxious. Not necessarily when they're snuggling or playing with the rest of the family.
I wish I had more pictures of humans and pets together.
Your take home message: Photograph the family pet. WITH your kids. WITH you.
If you have a family photo session INCLUDE beloved family pets. If your photographer won't oblige, find another photographer.
These are photos that matter.
And in five, ten, twenty years when you have to say good-bye to your treasured friend, you'll be so GRATEFUL you made effort.