I have a blog post all queued up about making portraits of strangers on the street, but I find myself needing to shift gears today.  Please bare with me, I promise there is a tie in to photography in here somewhere.

The photo at the top of this post is of my Golden Retriever Sadie.  She was the first child my wife and I jointly brought into our family, was there when our daughter was born, and they have basically grown up together.  Here is a quick iPhone snapshot of the two of them together:


Sadie passed away this morning at the age of 11.   It was unexpected, sudden, and heartbreaking.  Those that know me know that long before I picked up a camera I picked up a stethoscope to begin a career as a paramedic (you can read more about my story HERE if you like).  Through my work as a paramedic I have seen hundreds of people pass away.  It is always sad, but you are somewhat removed from it as a paramedic… observing from the outside if you will.

Today, after Sadie died, I went searching for photographs of her to make the obligatory Facebook post and found the photos above, as well as the 3 below.  I shot these photos for a friend one day when I was teaching him how wide angle lenses cause distortion when used incorrectly, especially on people’s faces.  No one else was home, however, so to demonstrate this principle I set up some studio lighting and shot photos of Sadie at 10mm, distorting the crap out of her.   We had a great time (well, at least I did).  Here are a couple of the photos:



…How can you not love that face?

There is a saying, adapted from a biblical reference:

“The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.”

I had 11 amazing years with Sadie.   She was an integral part of our family, and now she is gone.  Looking back through my Lightroom catalog this morning made me realize that I don’t have anywhere near as many photos of her, or my family for that matter, as I do of epic sunsets, beautiful models, and strangers on the streets of the various cities I have travelled to.

I write this post because I have thoughts I need to get out right now, but also to serve as a gentle reminder to all of us that life is precious, and we as photographers have the ability to create memories that we will want, even need, one day in the future.   The next time you have the urge to shoot think about making a portrait of a loved one, shoot a friend doing something they love, or take a selfie in one of your favourite places.  Life is too short not too.

Here is one final photo of Sadie for this post:


Man’s best friend indeed.   Farewell, my friend.


26 thoughts on “Loss

  1. Denis says:

    She was well loved and happy. You and your wife made a loving home for her and that’s all any dog could hope for. Grieve, remember and relish your time with her. Our time with our pets is never enough and the pain will subside but will never go away completely. Josey, my German Shorthaired Pointer, has been gone for ten years. I still miss the tinkling of her collar as she came trotting up the patio to welcome me home.

    • Ian says:

      Thanks for commenting Barron. I’ll be back to my Fuji preaching, world traveling, street shooting self soon. 🙂

  2. Jim Sollows says:

    This is a beautiful tribute Ian. She’s a sweetheart! I’m very sorry for your loss!! She isn’t just a dog, she’s a close family member and the loss is felt just as deep. The pain will fade in time but will never go away completely. It’s greatly helped if you bring another into your home. They never replace but they help to fill the void and bring new joy into the home.

  3. ubercurious says:

    Ian, I wish you and your family peace and love as you mourn the loss of your faithful companion.

    Dogs are special beings in our lives. Thanks for sharing this very public and vulnerable tribute. And for the reminder to shoot the ones who are dear to us.

    – Brent

    • Ian says:

      Thanks for commenting Brent, it is much appreciated. This blog is a portfolio for me, a place to support the Fuji community, and a personal dumping ground for my random thoughts. I struggled a little posting this, I’ll be honest, but I think it’s important to be open and share… it makes us all stronger artists.

  4. JohnAmes says:

    A wonderful heartfelt good bye. I’ve owned 2 goldens and they were the most lovely friends. I am so sorry.

  5. Roger says:

    Working dogs make special companions. You often experience how selfless the animal can be and that too is a reminder that sacrifice, service and steadfastness are qualities to pursue actively as the human side of any relationship.

    Sadie was a beautiful dog. It’s clear that you and your family will miss her. The image of Sadie and your daughter is precious without the narrative; touching with it and worth hugs all around.

    Sincerely, Roger

  6. Shari says:

    Ian, I’m so sorry to hear about Sadie. What a terrible loss for your family and what a beautiful tribute to her and to family! It is so devastating to lose such an integral part of the family and speaking from experience, it takes time to heal from it, but it helps to get right out there and find another four-legged family addition to love! I feel there’s nothing more healing than the loyalty and unconditional love and companionship of a dog. – Shari

  7. Adrien says:

    I share your pain! I lost 2 goldens myself (mom and son) each time I was leaving for to live in the UK. Plus almost all pictures disappeared in the lost of my hard drive. Trust me, now, everything is backed up in triples and I have a more robust workflow regarding storage.
    As usual nice article! Very human and love the conclusion, photographs each moment, cuz everything memories count! We document our lives as much as create art!

  8. cwheels62 says:

    Ian, thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pics and post about Sadie. I am sorry for your loss. As a lifelong lover of dogs — Labradors in particular — I know the profound pain of losing a member of the family. You made me feel better about humanity today with this post. Dogs are the best people I know.

  9. Marina says:

    Great tribute!
    Sweet thought for Sadie et and your family.
    Last week I have just said goodbye to my old french bulldog 15 years old and I know how much their absence is difficult…Sadie will be always in your heart.

    (sorry for my english…)

  10. Pedro Infantas says:

    I just discovered your blog and bang! this post. My golden, my sweet boy ‘Bobby’ is almost 11…he is my first son, you know what I mean?…my 3 kids love him so much…I know the time is coming and my prayer is that he could live a couple of years more…my second one is 8 y/o and he is so close to my dear buddy…anyways..I dont know if I’m ready…but I can say this: besides my own family, I love this dog with all my heart.
    so sorry for your loss Ian.
    Cheers from Lima Peru.

    • Ian says:

      Many thanks for your kind words Pedro, they are vey much appreciated.

      I hope to see you on the blog again soon!



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