WHY YOU SHOULD STOP POSTING PHOTOS OF YOUR CAT

PUSS N' BOOTWhat you're about to read is going to focus mainly on the right-brain aspects of photography. Many thanks to shmector.com for providing the use of the original graphic that I used to create this!You know what you just can’t find enough of on the internet?  Cats.  My cat in particular.  I’m sure you agree.  In fact, I have no doubt that there are untold multitudes of you out there who have been crouching anxiously over glowing screens, obsessively clicking refresh, in the desperate home of seeing more pics my cat. Well, your long, arduous wait is over.  You’re welcome.

What is it about us that makes us post photos of our cats and think that anyone else really wants to see them?  Or photos of other mundane, ordinary parts of our life, like what we ate for lunch, or duck-face selfies taken in the mirror, or the birth of a first-born child?

I’m kidding, of course.  Obviously, you should continue to post pics of your meals and selfies. They’re awesome.  Of that there can be no doubt.  However, the cat photos have simply got to stop.  It’s time to face a hard truth people.  Nobody cares about your cat.  NOBODY. Your cat does not matter.  My cat, on the other hand, is awesome, and people need to know about it.  I found my cat on the street, and it is a tough little creature.  Your cat is soft.  My cat could beat up your cat.  My cat rocks.  I’ll get to that more in a minute, but first I’ll quickly explain the photo at the top of this post.

While I anticipated that shooting a dark subject in front of a black background would be an interesting technical challenge in terms of lighting, really I just thought it would be funny to stick my kitten in a boot. I had difficulty locking focus on the eyes, and I wish they were sharper in this shot, but this was probably the best expression of the set. My cat wasn’t terribly cooperative at the time, in spite of having previously been perfectly fine with interacting with my footwear in other ways… let’s just say it wasn’t the first time I’d found something in one of my shoes that was cat-related.

Ok, back to how my cat is better than your cat: In the early fall of 2009, I had just finished watching a movie with a date and was crossing a bridge over the Moscow River near Kievskaya metro, and there it was: the tiniest, ugliest, most pathetic looking clump of bones and fur I’d ever seen (the cat, not my date).  This kitten was so ridiculously small it probably could’ve fit in my pocket.  I had my camera with me, and I couldn’t resist stopping to try and get a shot of it.  Just after taking the first shot you see below, I got closer and sat down to get a better angle, and the cat crawled up onto my leg, eyes glossed over, convulsing with shivers and emitting weak cries of anguish.  The meows were barely audible, but the subtitles were pretty clear: “If you don’t take me home with you right now, I will surely die.”

The truth is, if it hadn’t been so ugly and pathetic, I probably would’ve left it right there on the bridge.  If you see a cute kitten on the street, it’s easy to assume that someone else will come along and take it, but looking down at this scrawny, scruffy black rat on my lap, I knew it wouldn’t stand a chance.  So, against my better judgement, I took it home.  It was a decision I would never regret forget.  I’m kidding, of course.  I love my cat.  And it loves me… when it’s time to eat anyway.  On the walk home I thought, “I’ll name him Bridge, because I found him on a Bridge.  That’s a cool name for a cat.”  It wasn’t until a trip to the vet that I discovered that Bridge wasn’t actually a boy, and I’m assuming you can figure out by yourself why her name became Bridgette.

CAT IN BED - Moscow, RussiaNo flash used for this shot--strictly ugly, fluorescent light, but I think it suits the mood I was trying to get at here.  Just added contrast and texture in photoshop.Here’s another shot of my girl, where I had her doing a feline re-imagining of “The Sixth Sense. It took some time to convince her to do this.  I didn’t use a flash for this shot–strictly ugly, fluorescent light–but I think it suits the mood I was trying to get at here.  I just added contrast and texture in photoshop later.

Of course, she wouldn’t put up with these type of shenanigans at all anymore, having grown stronger, faster, smarter and slightly bigger since then.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Bridgette gets her revenge someday soon by stuffing me in a barrel, snapping a few pics, and posting one online entitled “Barrel of Monkey.”  You see, my cat doesn’t subscribe to traditional, outdated notions of what a cat should be.  She’s an individualist.  A non-conformist.  She sits where she wants to sit.  She scratches where she wants to scratch.  She poops where she wants to poop.  Rarely do we agree on any of those decisions.  She meows to the meow of her own meower.  And I love her.

Bridgette has actually taken interest in photography herself and likes to assist during shoots at my place.  She’s a great help to me, first by giving an easy open topic of conversation to break the ice with the model, and then by making sure the model stays alert by occasionally darting across the room for no reason or giving the model a friendly nibble or a bloody scratch on the foot.  While Bridgette is too small to move light stands or hold a reflector, she isn’t shy about sharing her opinion of my technical choices, by subtly knocking bits of equipment over.  She’s even volunteered to step in as a guest star in some of my photos, like this one:

FAKE BLOOD - Moscow, RussiaAlthough I'd bought some fake blood a couple of weeks before this shoot, it had somehow vanished when the time came, so I had to resort to a couple of blots of ketchup on Olga's face and Liza's neck, and strawberry soda for the broken glass (which was far too light and had to be darkened later).  For some strange reason the girls didn't want to have copious amounts of ketchup smeared all over their dresses:) so I had to resort to painting pretty much all of the blood you see in with photoshop (including the top half of the glass).  To simulate moonlight, I used strobes placed in the window just outside the frame with a couple of blue gel filters.  Bounced another blue-gelled monobloc off the camera-left wall and had one monobloc gelled slightly warm in a softbox pointed at the girls (although I decided, in the end to cool down the skin tones in photoshop), as well as a ring flash on-axis.   It took a lot of takes and food bribery to get my cat anywhere near the general vicinity of the frame.  Ideally I would've wanted her perched on top of the sofa at another rule-of-thirds point, but for all of the shots she was there, either the lighting, exposure or expressions of the girls wasn't quite what I wanted.I did some dodging and burning in post along with a couple of contrast masks, but on the whole this final version isn't dramatically different from the original (well, aside from all the fake blood... and darkening a few white patches of my cat's fur... and changing the cat's eyes from greenish-yellow to orange-red... okay, I guess some things are different:)  I'd also like to mention that I took this photo back in mid-May 2010, before I'd heard about that True Blood show, or seen any of the promotional photos for it, so any similarities are purely coincidental.(Update: I was recently adjusting my combination sofa/bed and suddenly found my hands covered in

I guess we all want to believe that the little things that make us happy will make others happy too.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and I am, of course, well aware of it: you’ve got to be at somewhat egotistical to create an entire website (in addition to social media) filled only with stuff that you create and assume that others will actually devote their precious time to looking at it.  (Thanks for that, by the way!)  Yet we’ll shake our head and sigh in exasperation and consider blocking a friend on social media when we see he or she posting too many photos of stuff we don’t care about. We then immediately go on to post something that makes one of our friends consider blocking us.  I guess the lesson is that less is sometimes more.  Everything in moderation.  I’ve taken hundreds of photos of Bridgette (maybe even a thousand or more) since I found her five years ago.  I’ve publicly shared eight of them.  Before this post, there were four.  So go ahead and share those photos of your cat if you want to.  Just keep in mind that my cat is better than yours.

 

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