joy sessions®

Something that makes Sarah Beth Photography unique, and something I’m particularly proud to offer, is the Joy Session®.

Visit our website for resources and services that can help you on your pet loss journey.

Whether you’ve spent a short time or a lifetime with your pet, saying goodbye is the hardest thing you’ll have to do. These special, end-of-life sessions are just for terminally ill or elderly pets. These beautiful photos will highlight your relationship together and the love you share before they pass.

Owners who have chosen to invest in a Joy Session® have found that their images are a priceless momento that not only helps them through the grieving process, but keeps them connected to their pets long after they’re gone.

With an ailing pet, I know there can be significant expenses related to their care, so I’m happy to work with you on payment plans, and I archive all images so they’re available whenever you’re ready to make selections.

Please don’t wait too long.
Joy Sessions® aren’t meant to capture the very last moments with your pet, but rather to celebrate your life together before that time comes. (Some of my Joy Session® clients have lived for a year or more after the photos were taken!)

I do my best to fit these in as soon as they’re needed, but if this is something you’re interested in, I really recommend planning ahead. With more time, we’re often able to capture your pet while he’s still feeling and looking well, and we can schedule around the weather, helping create your best possible session.

I know it’s difficult to admit when the end is growing near, but please don’t let fear or superstition prevent you from capturing joyful memories with your best friend.

Click here to view the Joy Session® Image Gallery

joy service dog laughing smiling


Joan and Joy: Where it All Began

The name “Joy Session®” is not something I arbitrarily chose. There’s a very personal meaning behind it, and I’d like to share how it all began:

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.

We sat and chatted for a long time. Joan’s zest for life, even with her declining health, was a breath of fresh air for me, and helped me see that what I do is meaningful and important in so many ways. Without knowing it at the time, she and Joy sparked the idea to offer photo sessions specifically for pets that are nearing the end of their lives. For so many people, their pets mean the world to them, and I want to provide an opportunity to capture what makes them so special, especially in such a difficult time.

My first “official” Joy Session® was with a Bernese Mountain dog named Griffin, in January of 2010. I really didn’t know what to call this service, and “Emergency Session” was the first thing I could think of. It sounded so cold and impersonal, and I struggled with what I should really call it.

A few days after posting Griffin’s blog, and receiving some very nice suggestions from readers, I realized the perfect name was sitting right in front of me. I couldn’t think of anything or anyone I’d met who embodied such love and such a deep connection as Joan and Joy.

These sessions really are for people who want to celebrate the happiness — the joy — their pets have brought to their lives.

So, as a loving tribute to an amazing woman, her dog, Joy, and for everything that “joy” means for you, I’m so, so happy to offer this service.


The Joy Session® Network

As this concept started to become more common, I created as a directory of photographers who offer a similar service. Today, we’ve grown to more than 500 photographers and other service providers, and lots of great information to help anyone on a pet loss journey.

  • Share your own story of a beloved pet
  • Connect with others who know what you’re going through
  • Discover resources and ideas to maximize the time you have left
  • Memorialize your pet after they’ve passed
  • Find help in managing your grief

Saying goodbye is never easy, but we hope to make the time you have left a little more meaningful, comfortable, and even joyful.
end of life pet photography session

*The term “Joy Session®” is a federally registered trademark of Sarah Beth Photography, LLC.


Local news station, WCCO, did a story on Joy Sessions in October of 2012. Click below to view the feature:

‘Joy Sessions’ Capture The Last Moments Of Pet, Owner





Sarah Ernhart
Sarah Beth Photography

2205 California St. NE, Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55418