Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

Personal: Missing A Friend

It’s been a hard week for me… I’ve been working as usual but I interrupt myself by crying every once in a while. It’s because a picture is posted to Facebook with her in it, or I just start thinking about her funeral on Monday. I’m not even sure if it’s sunk in yet… but my friend Gwyn is gone. I find it hard to be fully open with my feelings sometimes, especially here in such a public place, but this has been bottled up in me all week and maybe I just need to get a few things OUT. So here goes.


I met Gwyn (pronounced “Gwen”) in sixth or seventh grade, because of basketball. She came to play on my school’s team, even though she attended a different middle school, and we eventually joined a select summer league together. We were competitive, year-round basketball players, and our coach called us the “twin towers” (obviously this was pre-9/11) because both of us stood several inches above all our teammates. At her middle school, she was enrolled in Spanish, which seemed wonderfully exotic to me as I’d never been exposed to a foreign language. I asked her to teach me a few words, because pretty much all I knew were hola and burrito. So she thought for a minute, and said, “You’re my abuela!” I said, “Oh, great! What does that mean!” She replied, “It means funny cool friend that’s really good at basketball!” I was astounded that there could be one word that contained all those ideas, but I happily accepted my new title. What a great thing, to be someone’s abuela! Years later (years) I would learn that “abuela” really means “grandmother”. (I was not a very bright child.) But that’s what Gwyn was like – always making her friends happy, always goofy, always a little unexpected.

Her yearbook photo:



Living far from home definitely sucks at a time like this. I can’t get to any of my old photos, from school or our teams. My yearbooks are in Portland too. The only pictures I get to see are the snapshots from our old yearbook my friends post to Facebook… this is the one I’ve spent a lot of time looking at recently.



One of my client’s/friend’s dogs passed away a few months ago, and she made the comment to me that right after the fact, pictures don’t help. They hurt. They’re actually painful to look at. That confused me when she said it… I didn’t get it until now. I have to trust that these photos of Gwyn will bring me some comfort eventually. Am I allowed to admit that? As a photographer I feel like I’m supposed to unequivocally say that photos are comforting all the time, but I just don’t feel that right now. You can’t mix happiness & tragedy. I feel their value, though – that’s for sure. I want to see MORE photos of her, even though it hurts. It’s like I want to re-live just as many moments as we actually shared together… even though I know that’s impossible.


This is making me re-evaluate what I do as a photographer. That’s for one simple reason: you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Sure, we get told that all the time, but do you ever stop and think about it? Stop right now, and consider: you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.


It’s only been a week, so I’m still in the thick of dealing with losing Gwyn, and still considering how to look at my own job. I document happy moments, but I’ve never done it because of the inevitable result. I don’t think my job should ever be narrowed down to that; what a morbid business plan! No, I’d rather document happy moments so that they can be enjoyed in happy times; that’s the primary goal. The fact that my work can comfort someone after a tragedy (even if it’s weeks/months later)… well, that’s something incredibly powerful. I suppose those are two very good reasons to do what I do.


This is Gwyn’s obituary. A fund has been set up in her name at the Oregon Humane Society. If you’re so inclined, please consider making a donation in her honor. I don’t think she “would have wanted” such a thing – that phrase even makes me a bit angry – because I know she didn’t want to be gone. But the way I see it, it’s a way for a little bit of good to come out of a terrible thing. Click here for the link to donate.


This blog post – this story – doesn’t really have a conclusion. So I’ll wrap up with what another photographer (who also recently lost someone) wrote, more eloquently that I could:


We don’t have to pull out the camera every single day, or call long-lost friends every single day, or blog, or bake, or write postcards, or any other good thing every single day.  The point is, rather, that we need to take time to do such things.  “Take” implies that it’s intentional, you’re doing it on purpose, not just “waiting until you have the time” or seeing if life leads you around to doing it.  The urgent will always crowd out the important, and unfortunately, urgent things aren’t usually scrapbookable….

Urgent stuff doesn’t care about what you’ll want in five years, it cares about NOW.  Urgent things bully us into neglecting friendships, foregoing happy afternoons, not creating something that will be best enjoyed later.  Urgent things convince us that because we didn’t have time to do that important thing yesterday, there’s no sense in bothering with it today, either.  Meanwhile, important things wait, but eventually slip away.  Some stories we only get one chance to write.

– Jenika’s Lens



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

First time here? You're on the blog! Visit the main website with Allison's portfolio & session info here:

Like this post? Share it!


One Response to “Personal: Missing A Friend”

  1. Marcia says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend Allison. It’s always tragic when someone so young passes on, especially when it’s a friend. The pictures will give you joy and fond memories . You will remember all the fun and laughter you shared. I’m sure with her love of animals, she is up there at the Rainbow Bridge, playing with all our fur kids that wait for us. I hope you find comfort in God and the love He has for us all.

Leave a Reply


All Images Copyright Allison Shamrell Photography: | Blog Theme Created by LJP & SLR Lounge