Andrew’s Bengal cat, Haroun enjoying catnip
cameras and eventually used some point and shoot cameras in my teens. I never took photography seriously. I was usually documenting teenage mischief more than anything else. Then I stopped taking pictures for a good period of time.
Around 4 1/2 years ago, I picked up photography again when I started taking photos of cats. I borrowed my roommate’s Pentax D-SLR camera to take photos of our new kittens. My roommate had gotten a Siamese the same week I got my cat, a Bengal. I’ve always loved taking photos, but began to genuinely love it when I pointed the lens at animals.
“I’ve always loved taking photos, but began to genuinely love it when I pointed the lens at animals.”
TCT: Did you have any professional training in photography?
Andrew: No. Aside from watching a few basic tutorials on YouTube explaining the various camera settings, I’ve had no formal training. And I only possess a fairly loose intellectual understanding of these things. Everything I’ve learned has been a result of trial and error, of which I’m a huge advocate. I think trying is imperative to formulating one’s own personal style.
“I think trial and error is imperative to formulating one’s own personal style.”
TCT: What’s your favorite equipment when photographing animals?
Andrew: Catnip and crinkle toys, of course! Oh, you mean camera equipment?
TCT: LOL. Of course!
Andrew: I currently use a Nikon D810. My lens of choice is a 1.4 35mm due to the amount of light it’s able to collect. I prefer natural light over flashes whenever possible, so it helps a lot in that aspect. I have a Nikon speedlight for extremely dimly lit environments or if I’m trying to catch a freeze frame of a quickly moving animal/object.
TCT: What are some of your favorite or memorable engagements?
Andrew: I absolutely love going into homes of those who have followed my photography and are so stoked to have shots of their animals taken by me. I’m infinitely flattered every time I’m hired. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to provide such a unique service to people who adore their animals.
I’ve never turned down an assignment, aside from the occasional request from across the country or elsewhere. I may just have to do a world tour at some point.
Two assignments come to mind immediately as far as my favorites go, both of which were surprise anniversary gifts purchased by the husband for the wife. One lady opened the door to find me there, completely unaware that her guy had hired me. I think she said, “Hey, I know you…” before it registered.
“I’m infinitely flattered every time I’m hired.”
The other was a 6-hour drive to Virginia to surprise the mom of a pair of squishface ginger cats, Seamus and Angus. She had asked me to come photograph them. Her husband wanted to surprise her, so he told me to tell her that I was busy and couldn’t do it anytime in the near future. Needless to say, she was elated when I showed up at their place. They’ve since become really good friends.
TCT: I love Seamus & Angus. I follow them on Instagram – they are too cute.
TCT: The internet is full of people who love to photograph their cats. What tips do you have for the amateur photographer, many who are using smartphones to capture their kitties?
Andrew: Before I got my first “real” camera, I was using my iphone to shoot. This was a number of years ago and the technology in smartphones has come a long way. I think one of the most important factors when it comes to any kind of photography is having an understanding of your light.
TCT: What’s the best lighting to use?
Andrew: An ideal setting would be when it’s daylight and the subject is bathed in natural light. If it’s night and you have traditional lightbulbs, they’ll typically produce a “warmer” photo, meaning that the photo will have a yellowish tint. This is fixed pretty easily in any smart phone app by tweaking the white-balance. Flashes on the phone can be tricky/difficult. I’d recommend not using a flash unless you absolutely have to, or you know how to bounce the light off of another surface. Using the phone’s flash will blast the bright light in your cat’s eyes. Not only will there be a reflective illuminating effect in their eyes (laser eyes), but it often washes out the photo if it’s too strong.
TCT: What about scenery?