Trials and Tribulations of Photographing Cats


A little back story here … Jim Marks asked me to photograph my younger cat for the cover of Pet Gazette and it had been a while since there had been a cat on the cover of the magazine. I figured, “Cool, it will be easy, I have the subject right here in my house” Famous last words … kind of goes along a similar vein as “Here, hold my beer!” Coupled with having a very busy schedule, I found myself right up against the deadline … silly me.

A little bit about the subject of the image: His name is McTeague which is the name that Blue Ridge Humane Society gave him which is where we adopted him from in October of 2015. We went there to get a companion for our older cat Morticia who was lonely after her buddy Gomez passed away several months before. My husband decided that the name suited him and it stayed. McTeague is a very affectionate kitty, loves to snuggle and is happiest when he is with us so I thought that he would not be a problem being photographed. After all, Morticia loved having her photo taken and would pose and preen for the camera. What was I thinking?

I took my camera out and carried McTeague down to my camera room where I had a backdrop and cushion set up. I figured it would be cute and an easy image. McTeague took one look and bolted out of the room, giving me a good scratch and almost causing me to drop the camera. Now I have to go find me a cat … I had forgotten to close the door to the room that I usually close when I photograph cats or dogs. I had made the mistake that I warn others about; assuming that my own animal would behave perfectly fine.

After about a half hour search, I found him, squashing himself into a corner under the bed. I drag him out and bring him back to the background setup. I try using toys and treats to get him to stay in place. Here is another mistake; I was trying to do all of this by myself, forgetting that I normally had another person to act as critter wrangler and distraction. Trying to do everything by myself because my other cat behaves perfectly fine for pictures was really stupid and it showed in that I was not able to get anything usable. I had a bunch of shots with him looking away, hunched over, cleaning his butt and generally being indifferent to my attempts. He also kept running off set. I finally went to heck with it and walked out of the room.

Over the next day, I tried everything I could think of to get this one image. He would be fine until I took the camera out, then he would do his best to not be in the same place and time as me and my camera. Eventually, I put the camera down and went to answer some emails and watch a movie on tv. And he came over and sat down next to me, very frustrating. After a while he got up and went to the window to watch the squirrels outside. That is when I had my chance. I slowly grabbed my camera and a speedlight and went towards where McTeague was sitting. I quietly set up the shot and quickly took it before he realized I was there. Of course, as soon as he saw the flash go off, he knew I was there and jumped down and ran off. However, I got the image I needed. And there was much rejoicing!


This post was published in the 2016 Summer issue of Pet Gazette magazine. The image did not make the cover; editor Jim thought Teague looked too angry. 🙂

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