Being a photographer, it's too easy to fall into cliches...However this shoot of my friend's cat Millie was very special (just dropped the cliche bomb).
If you're a cat lover like me, then you'll understand why it would be impossible to resist the charm of this golden fluff ball. She likes human companionship but on her terms, and we humans willingly obey!!
She has a soft and curious temperament. Also she does not go to humans, humans go to her! :-) She has the softest fur this side of a Toffee (my kitty). For many though, it is her beautiful face; her features are divine. She must be the goddess of pretty kitties!
So I had been badgering my friend to photograph Millie for several months but illness and busy schedules hindered my plans. Finally, I decided that if they weren't coming to my studio, then I'll go to them.
Home or Away?
There are advantages of shooting in my home studio, but then again there are good things about shooting at someone's home... they will feel at home and all there "stuff" is already there!
I three shoots planned in my head. When I arrived I was offered a lovely lunch, then got on with testing my lighting on a teddy bear which worked out quicker than I thought considered it was blazing hot and very bright in the sun.
Now unlike some photographers I've seen, I'm NOT all about getting the perfect shot; I'm very much about a fun and informal experience. There has to be laughter, banter, vanity, shyness, boldness, insecurities and everything else in between. In this case with Millie, it was all about her feeling safe and unafraid of what was happening around her.
I had doubts, based on past experience, whether she would stay in one place for long; as it happens she was the perfect little model! My friend would pick her up, lay her down gently into position, and Millie would happily sit up, lay down, roll over and clean herself giving me a variety of shots.
Technically I was using my Canon 5D m3 with just a 50mm on. I mixed up my approach by using off camera flash and going for that depth of field look by dialing up to F1.8.
When I have photographed people in the past, I rarely push to F1.8; it does look funky but doesn't give the sharpness I drool over. My last studio human shoot was with Kris and looking back most of the shots were around F11 to really capture her details.
With any pet photography I insist (yes, I can be a bully) that the pet owner/slave be in the picture. My friend is very camera shy, but she trusted me. I placed her and Millie by the patio window to get that natural light; the contrast wasn't perfect (the ambient light was high) but it was good enough. I directed my friend on how to hold Millie...Millie was not happy, but we persisted for 30 seconds and got kinda what I wanted.
Finally I couldn't bring a studio to her home so I improvised by using a white sheet as a backdrop. This particular sheet was very creased, but I compensated by saturating the bounce light to really push the highlights of the white sheet. I exposed for Millie which made the creased sheet almost look clean white. POW!
Lately I have felt time slipping away as I desperately shred the emotionally draining 2017 behind me. As I leave that time behind me I treasure the present more and more. It is fair to say Millie is in some discomfort, she has a limp and has been through some weeks of ill health. I had to do this shoot. I had to do this for my friend, most importantly I had to do this for sweet sweet Millie.