Any pet owner who has lost their furry friend knows how devastating it can be. It's not an overstatement to say that a beloved member of the family is now gone. When the pang of grief hits, photos and videos can help remind someone of the good times shared. Photographer Lauren Smith-Kennedy is helping those who know it’s time for their pet to cross the Rainbow Bridge with free end-of-life photo shoots for the animals and their humans. Her poignant portraits show people saying goodbye to their dogs, cats, and rats.
Smith-Kennedy was inspired to offer this service after experiencing the sudden loss of her cat, Tilly. “The loss of a pet is truly one of the most heart-breaking, earth-shattering pains out there that so many of us can relate to,” she tells My Modern Met. “While there is no cure-all for grief, I feel honored to be trusted to capture such meaningful, vulnerable moments while memorializing the unbreakable bond between animals and their families.”
The photographer spends up to an hour with each family as they say goodbye. The sessions are what her clients want them to be, whether that's sharing a sweet embrace or enjoying the pet's favorite place one last time; it’s all about capturing the special relationship. “I offer my sessions for free as a way to make this resource as accessible as possible,” she explains. “I strongly believe that everyone deserves to have beautiful photos of their pets because though some may be small in size, they really do create the biggest impacts on our lives while teaching us the truest form of loyalty and love in the process.”
Smith-Kennedy is based in the Portland, Maine, area. Because she is offering these services free of charge, it limits how far she can travel for a session. She’s compiled a comprehensive list, however, of photographers around the U.S. (and beyond) who are offering end-of-life photography.