Why Do You Do What You Do?

by Kris Phillips

Why Do you do what you do? Why do YOU do what YOU do?

Seems like a pretty standard and straightforward inquiry which can make you pause and question, well, everything!

Photographers were told decades ago that it was a dead industry. And I’ve certainly had my share of struggles with turning a passion into a business. So why risk your financial life to roll around in the grass with other peoples dogs?

I’ve got about a dozen easy answers that follow something like:

  • Because I love dogs!
  • Because it’s the most fun job in the world!
  • Because I’m a visual artist! Photography is my canvas and I’m really not great at drawing or painting.
  • Because I seem to have a knack for it, and doesn’t everyone want a job they’re good at?
  • Because of the indescribable joy I feel when I lay eyes on that perfect shot and know that my client will be absolutely elated.
  • Because I’ve just never had another job that filled my soul quiet like this one does.

I suppose these are all perfectly legitimate answers depending on who’s asking. But recently I was nudged to go a little deeper. In exploring my purpose on this planet the question kept creeping in. …but WHY do you do what you do? And none of my usual off the cuff answers seemed to quite quell this nagging question.

” Your why shouldn’t be because of you, it should be about the people who need you” echoed in my earbuds from a Fearless Motivation track.

Then one day it echoed in my heart. I do this because I know the pain of losing a soul-dog. The kind of dog who’s more than a pet. The dog who rampages into your life at warp speed and leaves you exhausted and wondering what havoc they’ll wreak next. And yet you can’t remember what life was without them. The only being on the planet that can wake you from a sound sleep just for attention…and you smile instead of fling a pillow. The dog who rides shotgun, co-pilots life, and walks beside you on every twist in the road. The dog who’s soft fur seems capable of soaking up an endless amount of tears when no one else is looking. The dog you’d consider bartering your own years just to buy them a few extra.

Over the years I’ve wept for a few soul-dogs. And in the wake of that empty place I’ve clung tightly to their images. Looked longingly into those mischievous eyes and smiled as each roused a joyful memory of that one time the dog (insert every crazy story from eating the Thanksgiving turkey to killing the dreaded sprinkler beast).

And over the years I’ve photographed hundreds of other peoples soul dogs. Sometimes early in their journeys, but often near the end. I can’t begin to express the gravity of knowing you are a part of someone’s best friends last adventure. The last photos to carry on their soul-dogs legacy of love.

Saved in a file I have every email I’ve ever gotten after a client had to say goodbye to their soul-dog. Some are brief and others share more in depth. And I am so deeply touched to be a part of such a personal time. If I had a magic wand I would happily wave it and take away the heartache that I know they’re feeling. While I don’t have that there is one common thread that I read over and over; staring at the photographs that radiate their dogs personality provides a gentle salve for a broken heart.

And so I realized my why. My true, deep in my soul, no fluff WHY.

Because I don’t have a magic wand, but I do have a camera! If a photo I took can ease someone’s broken heart even a fraction, then that’s why I will keep rolling in the mud (hoping it’s mud), trudging into the frozen creek, and standing on my head to snag the perfect dog’s POV.

“This photo shoot meant the world to us, and was such an important opportunity for our family to come together once more to help say our goodbyes. We had been working up the courage to help Tegan transition, but George’s cancer diagnosis came just days before we had to let him go. The morning after these pictures were taken, we made arrangements for our two sick pups to walk together across the Rainbow Bridge. Our hearts are broken with this double loss; words simply cannot express our gratitude for Furever Friends and Kris’ willingness to meet with us on our very short time line to accommodate. Our lives are richer because of our dogs’ presence in them! The only thing I would have done differently is to have done more family pictures including our three dogs when we still had the opportunity; this situation came up out of left field and completely took us by surprise. ” -Laura

  • That’s why I will keep risking fingers and camera gear to excited treat grabbers.
  • That’s why I will laugh off yet another black eye courtesy of a tennis ball, or frizbee, or wild puppy to the face.
  • That’s why I will continue to grapple with balancing my family time & “I have a dog that needs to be photographed right now”.

I do what I do because I have a sacred duty to my fellow dog moms & dads to ensure their soul-dogs legacy carries on.

I dedicate myself & my work to all the soul dogs out there, the one’s who wait at the door and the ones who wait at the Rainbow Bridge.


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