Saugerties, NY Photographer Captures Special Moments with Senior Pets
Animal lovers know that pets are more than just an animal, they quickly become part of the family as soon as they enter your life.
However, as we all know, our time with our pets is short-lived, and saying goodbye to a pet is one of the hardest goodbyes we ever have to make. One Hudson Valley photographer is on a mission to capture the love between pets and their owners as their 4 legged family members live out the last few years of their lives.
The Tilly Project
In October of 2021 Ashley Carroll, of Ashley Skye Images, became part of a project that donates her photography services to families with senior pets or pets with a terminal diagnosis. It's called The Tilly Project and Ashley explains that it was started by Lauren Smith Kennedy who went viral on TikTok with her End of Life Pet Photography. Ashley said:
I saw the idea and absolutely fell in love with the mission to capture the true raw emotion between pets and their owners and knew I wanted to be able to provide these memories as well. Lauren and I are now very good friends we we run a group on Facebook called “The Tilly Project; End of Life Pet Photography” which has grown to over 7500 members and includes a list that is growing everyday of photographers world wide who are willing to provide this service.
These photoshoots are done at no cost at all and, as Ashley writes on her Facebook page, "offer a precious form of closure and priceless memories in preparation of helping your furry family member cross the rainbow bridge."
Celebrating Your Pets Life in Photos
Many may think that these End of Life photography sessions are too heartbreaking and morose. I asked Ashley what the public reaction has been like and she states "I haven’t had one person say a bad word about what I do. Every gallery I have sent to the families who have booked this session, respond with tears flowing down their faces and in awe of how much they’re so happy to have had the opportunity" adding:
Animals are only here for a part of our lives, but we are their whole life. They deserve to be celebrated.
I stumbled upon Ashley's images and End of Life Pet Photography on Facebook. Each photoshoot she posted came with a story about the pet and its family. By the end, I was in tears sobbing. So I had to know if these photoshoots pull at her heartstrings and Ashley said that she has broken down a time or 2 while shooting. She shares:
My very first session, was for a 7yr old German Shepard, Pi, who was diagnosed with a very aggressive terminal cancer. His owner contacted me on a Tuesday and we planned for the session to be that Thursday. The morning of his session he suddenly lost mobility to walk, so I rushed out of work and drove 1.5hrs to his home. His mom and I carried him outside and she held him under a willow tree for the session and just cried. He crossed the rainbow bridge 3hrs later.
Ashley has always been an animal lover, growing up with dogs and cats at her mom and dad's house. She tells us she always dreamed of working with animals in some form or another and besides owning her own photography business Ashley is a veterinary assistant at the Marbletown Animal Hospital. She and her husband are also pet parents to 4 huskies.