Love it or loathe it, social media makes it easier than ever for us to remember the year that was by providing a tangible space in which we can reminisce about our highlights. I’ve loved scrolling through my posts from the past twelve months, looking over all the best moments, from major milestones, like new puppy homecomings and career accomplishments, to beautiful artwork and heartwarming portraits of connection, love, and lives well lived.
Thanks to the Top Nine app, looking back on 2022 through your Instagram lens is easier than ever. It’s like an automatic highlight reel of your Instagram year! In just a few clicks, you can instantly generate a photo grid featuring your top nine posts from the past year, including trips you took, times with friends, delicious meals, and anything else you want to remember and celebrate! You can even share your Top Nine compilation with friends on social media or print it out as part of a scrapbook page for a creative display of all the best moments that you experienced this past year.
In this blog post, we’ll be not just looking back on my most popular posts as chosen by the Top Nine app but also hearing the stories behind them too. Grab your leash, friend, because it’s about to get furry and fabulous!
1. Three Saint Bernards Visit Petagogy in Greensburg for Pet Photos with Santa
When I overheard one of the Petagogy owners say that we had a few puppies next in line to sit on Santa’s lap at Greensburg’s Pet Photos with Santa event, two gigantic bundles of floof was not what I was imagining, but my goodness!
You all clearly were feeling the draw of those heartstring-tugging puppy eyes too because you hearted their first Christmas portrait right to the top of this year’s Top Nine! The overwhelming consensus in the comments: absolutely adorable.
2. A Look Inside Stella & Fiona’s Fine Art Album
Fine art albums are among one my Rainbow Session clients’ preferred products thanks to their unmatched visual storytelling, so it was no surprise that in addition to her gorgeous barnwood framed print, Stella and Fiona’s mom, Elaine, chose one for herself following their late October 2021 session.
Elaine opted for a rich and earthy olive green luxury linen cover that paired wonderfully with gold personalization and a beautiful peek-a-boo portrait of her two girls on a rust-colored footbridge where the autumn leaves hung on the branches behind them. Inside, pages upon pages of full-spread portraits elicited laughter and expressions of awwws at Stella’s incredibly lengthy tongue and Fiona’s playful action shots, respectively.
3. A Six-Year Anniversary Snapshot
Remember when a few photography friends and I went location scouting for dog photography sessions at Pittsburgh’s Strip District for June’s explorer edition of the Flourish Academy’s camera club? Not only did we (OK, I) do a bit of dog-spotting, but we also exchanged a few headshots for one another at various hidden gems along Pittsburgh’s Smallman Street and Penn Avenue.
Gretchen Decker of Gretchen Decker Photography set up this one of me, which I saved to pair with a post celebrating Bark & Gold Photography’s six-year anniversary. I love that it includes my bells and whistles lanyard (in Pittsburgh-themed colors, of course), essentially my third arm. Can you tell that she told me to act serious…and that I had a heck of a time not smiling? I mean, how could I not when all around me were dogs to photograph? My dog radar is unmatched.
4. Kali’s Traditional Framed Print Reel from her Rainbow Session
Sweet Kali’s Rainbow Session marked my final session of 2021, which produced what remains one of my favorite traditional framed pieces that I’ve designed to date. Everything about it—from the genuine solid wood frame that complemented the fall tones to Kali’s soulful gaze and appreciative smile—just came together flawlessly. This piece was pure perfection.
An emotional reel set to Jaymes Young’s “Happiest Year” showcased its details stunningly and left many choked up. As one follower commented, “Well, now I’m crying in my coffee.”
5. Xap’s First Visit to Pittsburgh
One tiny terrier represented the ‘burgh in big ways during her first trip to the City of Champions all the way from Florida!
So many of you lost it over Xap’s irresistible eyes, those one-up-one-down ears, her pint-sized body, and the serendipitous superhero role she’s stepped into, helping her moms grieve the loss of their beloved Yorkshire terrier Pax who crossed the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year.
If you adored Xap’s featured post, you’ll definitely want to see more from her spring session at Heinz Field and Pittsburgh’s North Shore if nothing more than to see her in her itty bitty Steelers jersey.
6. Aketa Looking Pretty in Pink
What do you get when you cross a six-year-old German Shepherd/Husky mix with a pink satin bow? No less than 100 likes, of course!
“Perfect” and pretty in pink are how you all summed up Aketa’s summer portrait captured at Robin Hill Park this past August, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. What a princess!
7. Drink with Your Dog
I love supporting local small businesses, particularly when they’re pet-friendly, so in April, I raised a glass to National Beer Day with a carousel post highlighting seven Pittsburgh area breweries where you can drink with your dog.
Fun fact: Kali, the very pup mentioned above in my number four spot, has her own special brew, Kali Kölsch, that’s available on occasion at 412 Brewery.
8. In Loving Memory of Stanley
To put it simply, Stanley was a special dog.
A rescued beagle, he was stoic, seemingly an old man for his entire life, mellow, and as his mom, Kayla, adds, “an absolute angel of a dog.”
Stanley always loved being outside and going for hikes in the woods where he always felt most alive, so that’s exactly where we headed for his late August Rainbow Session scheduled after an end-stage kidney failure diagnosis. We walked the flower fields at Boyce Park, sought out a silhouette-worthy spot for a bucket list portrait, and ended our evening at its Carpenter Log Cabin where a tuckered-out Stanley snuggled in his mom’s arm for soft ear pets and candid cuddles. Their connection was a reflection of what unconditional love looks like.
Kayla told me that she’s never known anyone not to love Stanley, and you proved that to be true with the outpouring of support and kind words you shared on his memorial post.
9. In Loving Memory of Otto
Rounding out the number nine spot is Otto’s memorial post.
Listen, saying goodbye is never easy, but it’s a different kind of hard when doing so involves a repeat client.
As I shared in the caption for this post, Otto truly was the best boy. He embodied joyfulness, gentleness, and love, qualities packaged together so perfectly in a warm yellow body that exploded through a wagging tail! Everyone he met fell in love with him.
I was fortunate enough to photograph Otto not once but twice since first meeting him in 2018, although this second session almost didn’t happen as his parents, Cait and Eric, had narrowly missed the window for my only Silhouette Sunset Sessions of the year. “Next time,” we agreed, but little did we know that the window of time would be so slim.
Otto had been diagnosed with cancer over the summer.
When I heard the heartbreaking news, I immediately reached out to Cait to offer a special Silhouette Sunset Session for us to capture a handful of vibrant and dreamy portraits of their special guy. We met on a quiet evening in early October, just the four of us, for a poignant and emotional session celebrating their brave boy.
For Cait and Eric who told me that this is one of their most cherished portraits of Otto, they’re moving through their grief with some laughter, some tears, and the comfort of knowing he is with his big brother Jäger and no longer suffering.
Celebrating 2022 in Nine Little Squares
Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane with me as I shared some of your favorite photos from the year along with the stories behind them. It’s always fun seeing what resonates most with you, and I appreciate your engagement more than you know!
What was your favorite memory that you shared on Instagram this year? Tag me (@barkngoldphotography) in your post so I can check it out!
Is a 2023 session on your wish list? Winter and early spring dates are beginning to fill and I’d love to connect with you to begin planning yours. Choose your adventure below to begin.
Did you enjoy this post? Great, there’s more coming your way because it’s part of a photography blog circle featuring photographers specializing in a variety of niches! We’re recapping the past twelve months for our weekly theme, “Best of 2022,” which is sure to fill you with that warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia. Let’s reminisce alongside Gretchen Decker with Gretchen Decker Photography who’s reflecting back on her favorite moments of 2022 and sharing the stories behind them. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle until you eventually find your way back here. If you get lost along the way, just look for the trail of dog hair. I won’t be far off…