Pam Douglas sat on a stool in front of a backdrop, leaned close to her dog, Bode, and looked into the camera.

She held still as Hannah Hardaway took a few shots and then, at the photographer’s request, repositioned the Yorkie-Maltese.

“You want to put him up a little closer to your face,” Hardaway said.

The pose was pretty cute, and with few more shots the photo session wrapped up and someone else took Douglas’ place.

She was one of dozens of people who came to the Senior Center of Jackson Hole on Friday afternoon for free senior portraits. They jumped at the chance to memorialize themselves and loved ones with an image that was a cut above a candid cellphone shot.

“It’s nice to have a formal portrait where you’re trying to look your best,” Gratia Reynolds said after her time in the camera’s eye.

Gwendy Johnson walked in to check out what was going on. With an unflattering vacation picture still fresh in her memory she wasn’t interested in another photo, but with some persuasion she sat. Now she’ll have a portrait, too.

“I’ll probably send it to my sisters,” she said.

The event was the brainchild of photographer Doug Ayers, who has donated portrait sessions to nonprofits for years, inviting clients of Community Services, One22 and Climb Wyoming, among others. It’s a community service for him, one that’s more about relationships than money.

“This is how I give,” he said.

He saw Friday’s project as an opportunity to give seniors a way to connect with friends and relatives.

“Their families aren’t here,” he said. “They don’t see them all the time.”

John Millar, an amateur photographer, came up from Freedom to help.

“I just like to do this for the community — things that build social capital,” he said.

Fifty-plus seniors, more than expected, had signed up for free portraits earlier in the week, so Ayers enlisted Hardaway, a professional wedding photographer.

Though some of the pictures they took are bound for faraway places, some will stay close to home.

“I’m keeping it,” Douglas said of the shot of her and Bode.

That was also the plan of best friends Dorothy Tanner and Dolly Blair, who had their picture taken together.

“We’re just going to hang on to it,” Tanner said. “We’ve been hanging out for about 3 1/2 years. We call ourselves the go-go girls because we’re always on the go.’’

Carl Janney said the last time he had a portrait taken was back in the 1990s, so he’s going to give his to friends. John Gailey, who sat with his Jack Russell terrier, Captain, will share his with friends but also frame a copy for himself.

“I’ve never had one with him in the picture before,” he said.

Venti Joosten brought Gaby, her adopted shi tzu, who camps, hikes and skis with her. Their photo will be sent to friends, including some overseas, but also be displayed at home.

“He’s been such a treasure in my life,” Joosten said.

Millar shot a group portrait of David and Mary Lynn Hewitt and their 7-month-old granddaughter, Lucy, all of whom wore white shirts for the occasion.

The Hewitts said they would send the image to the baby’s great-grandmother.

Tim and Margi Griffith’s kids and grandkids will get their photo.

“We don’t have a nice picture of us together other than our wedding photo,” Margi Griffith said.

Ed and Bobbie Taylor’s photo will stay in the family, too.

“I’m going to give it to our son Jonathan, who is disabled,” Bobbie Taylor said. “He doesn’t talk, so I thought a nice picture of the two of us would be good.”

Others who came Friday had no firm idea of where their images would go.

“We’ll have to look at it first,” June Nystrom said after she and Gary Sternberg posed together, he wearing a sling from shoulder surgery.

Roni Grasseler arrived with two dogs and a cat on leashes and sat on the floor with them for their group portrait. “I don’t know,” she said when asked what she planned to do with the photograph of her with her Labs, Suzy and Scout, and 21-pound marmalade cat, Goober.

No matter where the photos are headed, Ayers felt good about the afternoon’s work.

“I just find this is something I can do for people,” he said. “In a lot of ways it’s about community and relationships.”

Contact Jennifer Dorsey at or 732-5908.

Jennifer Dorsey is chief copy editor and Business section coordinator. She worked in Washington, D.C., and Chicago before moving to the Tetons.

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