The project was inspired by the relationship of Kathleen Capella and her Tortoise, Henry, who have been together 47 years.
In Gina’s words,
This project began in 2011 when a friend of mine told me that her mother, Kathleen, kept a “pet” tortoise named Henry and that she’d had him for almost 50 years. I was intrigued, to say the least, and thrilled when she agreed to let me come to her home to shoot their portrait and talk about their time together.
I loved photographing them, and Kathleen spoke of their relationship in a way that was very touching. I came away from that experience deeply moved, and inspired to photograph others who have pets they’ve cared for long term. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and photographing many more of these longtime companions, and a much wider range of animals than I’d ever expected. Most of the animals in this series are elderly – in some cases having lived well beyond their expected life span – and have been cared for by the same person for most, if not all of their lives.
The experience of meeting and photographing these pairs has been poignant, joyful, sweet, and beautiful, and also more fun than I could have imagined. Through it all, I’m continually impressed and inspired by the deep love and commitment between people and their beloved animals.