What Kind of Cat Photographer Will You Be? – December 18, 2016 on KittyGiver.com
Easy access to all manner of high tech equipment has created more and more emerging photographers. And with cameras being on about everyone’s smart phone, no one is safe from being captured at any time, in any situation. Now lots of people have access to high tech and can take photos like a pro. There is no longer any requirement for pricey high-grade cameras to take a great shot. And with such ease of always in-the-pocket or in-the-purse camera availability, pictures are taken everywhere, of everyone, and everything.
Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest (or you name it), are full of examples of the latest trending photos. Anyone’s photo can now go “viral” and make money, whether the photographer has been academically schooled or not. No one knows when their photo will make the rounds and go “viral” though. There is no surefire way to go “viral”, but with cute cat photos it’s almost a sure thing. The same is true with video, but that will be up for a later discussion.
Steve Dale, a cat behavior consultant and pet journalist explains that, “In the world of cats, there is no dog park,”… “For cat owners, the dog park is the Internet.”
Mieshelle Nagelschneider, author of Cat Whisperer, points to a more activists’ effort to it all, “…that cat owners, have taken to the Internet as a means to actively, and collectively, reverse the stigma attached to them: Cat owners have long felt that they don’t get the respect of their counterparts who have dogs, even though there are more domesticated felines (a total of 86 million, according to the Humane Society) than canines.”
Whatever the reason for the popularity, cats are being photographed with more pride than ever.
Aside from amateur photos being distributed, there are also those who take the work more seriously and create books. Two that I recently viewed are: Shop Cats of New York by Tamar Arslanian and photographer Andrew Marttila, and The French Cat by Rachael Hale.
Both books take about the same approach, photographing cats in their natural surroundings, one being small shops in New York City and the other in small villages around France. Is a new genre of photography emerging? These don’t qualify as wildlife books as neither is only about stray or feral cats in the wild. But they do deserve more consideration than just being labeled coffee table books, although they are suited for that as well.
Some possibilities could be street or documentary photography, or photojournalism.
Street and social landscape photography now carry more weight, according to Timothy Gleason in “The Communicative Roles of Street and Social Landscape Photography.” Simile vol. 8, no. 4 (n.d.): 1–13. “The social landscape thus, refers to a style of photography as well as subject matter. It reflects the growing popularity of the snapshot aesthetic, a movement away from highly formalized images, and a shift to an appreciation of lay photography aesthetics. Images made by seasoned photographers, even in the snapshot aesthetic, differ from those made by the general public. The seasoned photographers’ images have a greater technical quality and compositional awareness. (Pg 6)
David Nye adds the difference between documentary photography and fine art. “The documentary photographer differs sharply from the artist at precisely this point, because in documentary work the subject is always the reason for the photograph’s being…The whole thrust of the photograph must be to communicate some value in the subject to the viewer.” (Pg 2)
And Howard Becker “wrote of business relations that impact the making of art. Fine art photographers rely on the manufacturers of photographic equipment and supplies, galleries and curators to select their work, and an audience, typically affluent, to support the photographers by acquiring photographs.” But according to Barbara Rosenblum, “the photojournalist must put a smile on the face of an editor, and the fine art photographer must help the gallery please potential buyers.” (Pg 6)
Henri Cartier-Bresson is said to have started it all, when with influences from the Surrealists he pioneered the street photography genre.
Bernstein, Adam. “The Acknowledged Master of the Moment.” The Washington Post 5, Aug. 2004: Final Edition. Henri Cartier-Bresson said,
In photography, you’ve got to be quick, quick, quick, quick…Like an animal and a prey.….Photography is not like painting,…There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.…That is the moment the photographer is creative,… Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.
The door has opened for new photographic possibilities. Will you jump for it? Both of the above photo books I mentioned can also fall into a type of travelogue category.
Rachael Hale takes the reader sightseeing through France with glimpses of the cats that happen to appear along the way. She captures many beautiful scenic French views with cats in unique but ordinary to them moments. Gathering such an extensive photo collection of random scenes must have taken a lot of patience, but then she was doing so in the French countryside – a bit idyllic.
Tamar Arslanian and photographer Andrew Marttila take the reader around to meet the “shop cats” of New York City. Being a cat lover, Tamar started to notice a theme on her daily walks through the city and found not much recorded about these “shop cats”. And so once she connected with Andrew they were off on a journey to show the “real characters” of the city. Leave it to cats to make even simple shops appear as attractive backdrops for their portraits, and thanks to Andrew, a skilled photographer as well.
If at this point, you are anxious to get out your own DSLR camera or smart phone and start capturing artistic feline photos
, check out these tips by Sara Rodriguez Martinez, in her article on Cat Photography: How To Take Street Cats Photos.
Whatever method or means that you choose, it can be the beginning to some great work. I’m currently working on ways I can best showcase just such fine feline art.