What’s End-of-Life or Senior Pet Photography?

Updated

With the ease of taking pictures on our smartphones, we all have hundreds of pictures of our furry friends. We document the first day we bring them home, their first wobbly steps, their slobbery kisses, and the day they learned a new trick. We take pictures of them with us on vacation, around town, and sharing an ice cream cone. 

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When your furry best friend starts to slow down and nears the end of their life, however, photography probably takes a sharp decline. This is usually because there simply isn’t much to take pictures of. However, rather than letting their final days pass without photographic notice, you might consider purchasing a package for end-of-life or senior pet photography, instead.

What’s the Purpose of End-of-Life or Senior Pet Photography?

For many people, pets become just like another member of their family. For others, pets are their “kids” and become just as important as a child. No matter whether you let them eat with you at the dinner table or if you consider adding them to your will, pets become a precious part of our lives that nothing else can replace.

When we face the end of our pet’s life, it can be a deeply saddening experience. Grief is often felt in the same way as you would for a human family member nearing the end of their life. One way to help make the final days of your four-legged friend more memorable and meaningful is by capturing special portraits of your family.

While photography during a pet’s life is focused on celebrating their growth, milestones, and youth, senior or end-of-life pet photography is focused on celebrating the life they’ve lived and the time you’ve shared together.

Taking these pictures can help you and your family cope with a dying dog or another pet. If you have a friend going through this season of life, gifting them a portrait session can provide tremendous comfort. You can also gift them a portrait or two on canvas if you’re looking to get them a gift after their dog dies.

How Much Does End-of-Life Pet Photography Cost?

End-of-life or senior pet photography costs will vary depending on several factors including where you live, how many photographers offer this service, the length of your photoshoot, and if any traveling is involved. Costs may or may not include prints of your photos but will generally include edited digital copies.

Here are some guidelines so you can know how to budget.

Short Session of 30 min: $150

Medium Session of 45 min to 1 hr: $200-$300

Long Session of up to 1 ½ hrs: $300

If you need the photographer to travel outside of their service area, you’ll likely be asked to cover a traveling fee of anywhere from $50-200 depending on the distance.

Pro tip: If you know of a photographer that wants to get into this line of work, you may ask if they’d be willing to take pictures of your pet for a reduced price if you allow them to use your pet’s pictures in their portfolio.

How to Find an End-of-Life Pet Photographer Near You

Finding an end-of-life pet photographer is relatively simple and can be approached in two ways.

First, you can Google “end-of-life pet photographer” and see what pops up. If you have your location on, then Google will provide results that match your search terms for your area. You’ll receive several listings for pet photographers that offer this service near you. If there are no photographers nearby, then the nearest one will be shown on the results.

Your second option is to ask around. Visit your local animal shelter, a favorite pet store, or your vet and see if they have any recommendations. If you know other pet parents, ask if any of them have had this done for their pets. Recommendations are a great way to find out about local photographers and up-and-coming talent.


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How to Choose an End-of-Life Pet Photographer

Choosing an end-of-life pet photographer is an important decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. To choose an excellent photographer, the best thing you can do is look at their portfolio and read reviews. Check Google, Yelp, and Facebook for pictures and reviews, and ask yourself the following questions as you read what people say.

Was the photographer compassionate? End-of-life sessions can be incredibly emotional, and the photographer should display compassion and understanding toward the families of the pet they are photographing. 

Do you like their style? Every photographer has their own style. Do you like the way they use lighting, capture a pet’s expressions, and photograph pets and their owners? If so, they might be the ones to book. If not, move on to the next option.

Do they have open availability? If you need to schedule a session urgently, check their calendar for openings. To be sure, consider calling or messaging them directly to explain your shortened timeline.

Can they handle special needs, concerns, and requests? Older pets may have a variety of health issues that limit their mobility. They might have shaved spots from surgery, tubes, and other implements that help keep them comfortable. Can the photographer come to your house and photograph indoors, if needed? Can they use photoshop to remove feeding tubes during post-production if you’d like the pictures to be free of those things? 

Do they offer payment plans? Some photographers can set up a payment plan and work with you to avoid overburdening yourself when facing other end-of-life costs for your pet. 

What services and products do they offer? Most photographers offer you edited digital photographs. Some offer digital photographs in addition to your choice of one or two on high-quality canvas. Each photographer has their own set of offerings. Choose a photographer who can provide the type of quality products you want most.

Ideas for Taking Your Own End-of-Life Photos for a Pet

Saying goodbye to a pet is never easy and, for some families, taking your own photos might be an even more meaningful way to say goodbye. If you want to DIY your end-of-life pet photos, here are some creative tips and ideas to inspire you.

Choose the right lighting. Taking pictures when the sun is directly overhead is not the best lighting. Ideally, choose a time when the sun is at an angle so it’s not so harsh. This will also create a good contrast between images in the background and your pet and family members.

Choose a peaceful setting. Choose a setting that is familiar to your pet and a place they enjoy going. If they’re not very mobile, it’s perfectly fine to complete a photo session in your backyard or inside your house.

Use a favorite toy. Photograph them with a favorite toy to put them even more at ease.

Ask a friend for help. One of the best pictures you’ll want to capture is your pet with you and your family. For this, you’ll need a tripod and a phone or camera with a timer function, or a friend. Either way, you can set up the shot just how you want it, then ask a friend to take it or set the countdown timer on your photo app/camera.

Get some action shots. If your pet is still mobile, consider asking a friend for help in taking a few pictures of you and your pet going for a walk, playing fetch, and giving each other hugs and kisses. 

Utilize black and white settings. A black and white setting can help provide a unique contrast and show off a pet’s age in a dignified way, such as highlighting the white or grey muzzle on their face. If you’re uncertain whether you’ll like this effect, add a black and white effect during post-production when you edit your pictures instead of taking the picture in a B&W setting.

What to Do With Your Pet’s End-of-Life Photos

There are plenty of things you can do with your pet’s end-of-life photos. Here are a few of our favorites.

Canvas prints. Photos on canvas can be as small as a 4” x 4” picture or as large as a 24” x 18.” The best thing about this is that you can print out multiples in different sizes for a gallery wall, a small canvas for your nightstand, or a large one to place above the mantle. No matter where you place a canvas print, you’re sure to love it.

Photographic necklace or keychain charm. Have the digital image placed onto a necklace or keychain charm and keep it with you forever. Wear it or look at it every time you drive and keep them close.

Remembrance blanket. Several photography websites offer services to print pictures directly onto blankets and pillows. Now you can cozy up with a picture album of your favorite pet and keep their love wrapped around you, too.

Keepsake items. Other popular options for keeping your pet’s photograph near you is to have it placed on a Christmas ornament, a mug, a journal, or a magnet. 

Pro tip: These options make excellent gifts for someone you know who just lost their pet or is coming up on an anniversary of the day they crossed over the rainbow bridge.

Memorializing Your Pet Forever

End-of-life pet photography can help you memorialize your pet in a special way. Every time you look at their portrait or your family picture, you can think back to the many good times you had, the laughter you shared, and even the tears shed over the life of your special furry family member. Though they may no longer be physically present, their memory will be with you forever.

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