Not too long ago, I got a call from her Dad, Neil — Tori didn’t have long. She’s dying of cancer. Compelled to help him honor her memory, I met them at Manassas Battlefield for a late summer evening emergency photo shoot. I couldn’t have asked for more perfect lighting. Though I’ve tried, I can’t ever seem to replicate it — it was like God was shining down, knowing her fate.
This is my favorite photograph from that session. It was taken after the session, when Tori was exhausted from our shoot, and playing with Neil. Clearly she didn’t have the stamina she used to, but as they played, I laid down on the ground to get this shot. (I do this a lot – first, I shoot what the owners want, then I follow the dog and let him or her be their true selves.) This is the way I want to remember Tori. How she looks so happy and content simply because the sun is shining on her. All is well in the world, and even though she’s dying, everything is going to be OK.
Moments like this teach you to be more present. And as I navigate my own life, I realize I need more of that. To live more in the moment. More sunshine. More happy and content.
I felt a true connection that day with Neil and Tori. It helped he remember why I specialize in pet photography. Our pets are our family, and I love capturing and honoring their true selves through the lense of my camera.
Tori passed away hours after the proof meeting a few days later. It was like she knew she needed to hold on to get her parents through the proof meeting because it would have been too hard for them without her.