Photographer Sarah Ernhart has a gift for capturing moments between people and their pets — especially people and their pets who won't be around much longer. She calls them "Joy sessions" and her gorgeous pictures will make you both smile and sniffle.
These Joy sessions are named that because of Ernhart's first such photo shoot:
Shortly before Christmas in 2009, I had a photo shoot with a woman named Joan. Her friend booked the session as a gift, and we had a beautiful sunny day for it. Joan was living at home in Hospice care, and relied on the companionship and day-to-day help of her Service Dog, a Black Lab named Joy. Joy was her rock, her best friend, and had saved Joan's life on more than one occasion. She would let Joan know when her blood sugar was low, and if she was about to have a seizure. Joy would place herself under Joan to break her fall, stand firm to help her up, and was by her side day and night. I came into this session knowing that Joan didn't have much time left, but I had no idea I'd be meeting such a vibrant, funny, happy woman. She was so blessed to have Joy come into her life, and her eyes lit up with every story she told of her. She said that Joy was her "gift from God," and taking these photos had given her something wonderful to look forward to. Their bond was palpable, and it was easy to see that both of them were very loved. Her apartment was filled with the word "Joy" in artwork and pillows and Christmas decorations. She even wore a "Joy" sweatshirt during our session.
Well, I'm crying.
It was because of this session with Joy and Joan that Ernhart decided she wanted to do something similar for people and their beloved older pets. Let's look at the photos, dab our eyes, and then go hug our animals forever.