Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Behind The Scenes At A Feline Photo Shoot For The New Yorker

(Click here to watch if video doesn't load)

Ever wonder what goes into an amazing kitty photo shoot? You know, the ones where the cat is looking squarely at the camera with their eyes open wide and their paws are perfectly placed? If you've tried to orchestrate a feline photo op of your own, I'm sure you already know the complexities of getting cats to cooperate, in that they generally don't.

A recent story by Antonya Nelson for The New Yorker called "Chaper Two" required the help of some professional cat models to illustrate its ominous opening passage, which reads: “She was known in the neighborhood for being a character—some composite of Miss Havisham, Norma Desmond, and Scarlett O’Hara—her ancient family manse, with its aspect of ruined wedding cake, fenced off as if to contain inmates, its fetid kidney-shaped pool, by which her multiple orange cats congregated.”

In order to recreate the crazy cat lady-esque scene for the mag, photographer Emily Shur hired six ginger kitties, who came complete with a staff of four feline trainers. During the four and a half hour shoot, handlers used string tethers and food to coax the cats, but in the end, Shur contended it was best to let them be their furry selves.

She wrote of the experience on her blog: "This was a lengthy game of waiting for something exciting and spontaneous to happen. Instead of exciting and spontaneous I got quiet and calculated. I accepted the cats for who they were and just tried to be ready when they were.

Sometimes challenging shoots are challenging in all the wrong ways. The ways that make it pretty much impossible to produce a good picture. Other times the challenge is presented in all the right ways, and it makes you want to rise to the occasion that much more."

If there's anything else this behind the scenes video of the poolside photo session has taught me, it's that cat trainer or not - the only tried and true way to get a cat's attention is by making silly noises and shaking a bag of treats.



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