Meet Kristin Zabawa

Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'

We live in a culture that doesn't like to discuss – or even look at – end of life. Yet pet owners who ask former zookeeper and Portland-based photographer Kristin Zabawa to photograph their dying pets say those photos play a critical role in helping them process their grief.

For the past five years, Kristin has been quietly capturing the last moments between people and their animal family members during what she calls “SoulSessions.”

"For me, it's almost like a meditative practice," says Kristin. "I just open myself up to the moment and accept what's presented."

She doesn't charge for the sessions, although she does accept donations, and is hoping to establish a nonprofit to enable her to do the photographs full-time. 

Spot recently caught up with Kristin, in the midst of crowdfunding for her nonprofit. 

Spot: What one thing would people be surprised to know about you?

Kristin: I  can be a little quiet in crowds, but when inspired I am a 60 year-old rocker – just let me hear some Chrissie Hynde or Jimi Hendrix and it's time to protect the furniture!

Spot:  What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?

Kristin: Watching old ‘50s movies with a cup of tea – don't ask me why, I'm really not sure, and I understand when people laugh.

Spot: If you could be successful in a career other than your chosen one, what would it be?

Kristin: I've already worked one of my dream careers – zookeeper. I wanted to be a forest ranger long ago and still feel wistful about it, but I couldn't carry a gun. Another choice is a tree surgeon – I love the idea of healing a tree.

Spot: Do you think you’ll pursue it in this lifetime?

Kristin: Don't think I have the time! Forest ranger has also gotten to be a pretty intense job these days. Now I just go out and hug a tree.

Spot: Do you consider yourself tech savvy?

Kristin: Not at all! I love to use my camera, and I love to work on my images in Photoshop. Everything else is a love/hate relationship. I love the best that it brings- I resent the irritation. Still working on that one.

Spot: Truth – your favorite gastronomic pleasure:  gourmet, junk or ____ food?

Kristin: Anything that both swims and lives completely under water. If I could live on lobster alone I would be broke, but blissful!

Spot: If you could have 2 homes, where would each be?  Why?

Kristin: I do love Portland, and the other one would be in the middle of an old forest, surrounded by animals (including my husband).

Spot: #1 bucket list item that you absolutely want to do in this life?

Kristin: I've dreamed of tornadoes since I was 6. I feel driven to see one in person, hopefully safely. 

Spot: If you had a ridiculous lottery win, what would you do?

Kristin: Give most of it away with pleasure, continue my SoulSessions nonprofit & buy that forest home!

Spot: Name 3 things you hope people see in you:

Kristin:  Humor.   Heart   Fun.

Kristin’s crowdfunding campaign for SoulSessions Photography is happening on Indiegogo. Her dream is to be able to offer this free service full-time. You can help by going to: http://igg.me/at/soulsessions2015

You need not donate to help: just click on the link and Share or post a Comment on that page. Sharing from the Indiegogo site is valuable, as they pay close attention to such activity, and may feature SoulSessions as a result.

About our Sponsor

Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years.  In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare.  Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood. 


Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 4-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.