A Cat’s Holiday Wish | Seattle Cat Photography

Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays, whatever you celebrate at this time of the year. And mostly, warmth and love for all those animals out there that need homes. I believe that there’s the right home out there for every one of them. Peace and love to you all!

Bend Xmas 3A

I took these photos of Bend just before Christmas, as he had been waiting a while to get adopted, hoping that our holiday campaign would get him noticed and that it would get him a home for the holidays. As luck would have it,  just as I was finishing processing them, Bend found a home; funnily enough, several otherBend 2 web times this has happened too, for other cats… It’s as if I’ve sent some kind of energy out there to say “Adopt this cat, his photos are almost ready!”. But here they are anyway. I’m thrilled to pieces that Bend has found a home. He had fast become a favorite of mine at the rescue, waiting far too long, in my opinion. I was so happy to see him every time I went in to the rescue and it’s always bittersweet to see a favorite cat start their new life. Wishing you a long and happy one, Bend. You beautiful boy!

 

kamoorephotography Louie cat photo

End-of-life Photos of a Special Cat | Seattle Cat Photography

I took some photos of my mum’s cat Louie on my recent trip back home to England; a beautiful white cat – even with him being ear-less, he still was handsome (lost his ears to skin cancer some years ago). Yet I knew these would be the last photos I would take of him. After twenty years, his body was ready to shut down, and I could see that in his every move and his tired but still-magical eyes. I would watch him slowly make his way up and down the stairs, with much effort thanks to arthritis. He couldn’t see properly anymore; high blood pressure had made his retinas detach and caused blindness. And he couldn’t hear anymore either. Sometimes he would sit basking in the sun, looking happy as most cats do when doing just that, but he usually seemed restless, not knowing how to be comfortable.

A loved companion animal has a gift in terms of a loving human caretaker knowing when it is time to end the suffering by choosing euthanasia. Most animals know death and illness far more cruel, or have never even felt loved before. But it’s the hardest decision to make, even when you know it’s what is best; to end the suffering and give that animal peace, after giving so much of themselves to you. Twenty years is a long time, so much can happen in two decades. There’s so much love and attachment that happens in that time; they become part (and so often, become the spirit) of your home. It’s very hard to let go…

I’m glad I was able to get some end-of-life photos of Louie, particularly to give my mum and stepdad. Photos don’t replace memories, but they are a way for us to freeze time and hold those special moments close. So as much as I love taking photos of all sorts of things that embody life – new babies, children, parties, of animals looking for a new life (and family) of their own – I actually hope I can capture more special and precious memories like these, of companion animals before they pass on.

You fought hard to stay alive, my friend.
In the end, though, you couldn’t conquer death.
But neither did death conquer you.
Death cures all diseases, mends all broken bones,
Breaks all chains.
And made you free at last.” ~ Anon

Rest in Peace, little Louie. xo ~ K

Louie, May 2013 Copyright K.A.Moore Photography. All Rights Reserved

Louie, May 2013
Copyright K.A.Moore Photography. All Rights Reserved

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Shelter Cat Photography Secrets | Seattle Rescue Pet Photography

Are you ready for some exciting cat photography secrets?! I wrote this with my rescue pet photography in mind, but there are lots of ideas here that will help with any pet photo work.

*This post was updated on Nov 21st, 2014. So a few new things have been added!

Many people know, in this very visual and internet-savvy age, that quality and professional photos can really get rescue/shelter animals noticed online. Great images drive up adoptions because they stand out and get people to call and come in to meet their new companions. I’ve been driven to constantly improve my craft with regards to pet photography at the rescue; I love that I can make a difference with my skills. I’d love to share some tips of mine here for those who may be thinking of contributing their photography skills in order to help out at their local animal shelter. Shelters and rescues always need help in this area; the influx of homeless animals is always there.

Just about 99.99% of my rescue photography is with cats, and my focus is generally on the adult and harder-to-adopt cats. The kittens often get quick photos done on spay and neuter nights or on intake by other volunteers. My specific help is based on the need for someone to take better photos to get the adult and harder-to-adopt cats noticed, as we often barely need a photo up for the young ‘uns before someone will come in asking to adopt a kitten. Animal Talk is the only no-kill rescue in the city of Seattle and so we are always overflowing with many adult cats! [*Note: my original post was written before we became Seattle Area Feline Rescue. We were formerly known as Animal Talk Rescue]

One of my biggest and best tips is to have a dedicated helper when photographing cats. I have to do a large amount of my photos with the cat(s) in the tiniest room (called the ‘office’, and that’s only because it has some filing cabinets in there). It’s really approximately a 5 by 5 foot tiny space with cat crates piled high and I’m photographing the cats on top of said filing cabinets (about 2 by 3 ft). And I’m on a little stepladder! I should take a photo one day to show you this tiny space…

As I said, I usually have someone help me keep the attention of the cat on the filing cabinet…and generally with a toy and lots of physical attention, petting them. No cats jumping off that cabinet, please! Dangly toys I find are great for getting their attention and to get the cats looking up…I get great eye shots that way. Experimenting with different sounds you can make with your mouth, like bird chirps, can really help too. Cats are more indifferent to noises than dogs, but they do help. I also find myself talking a lot to the kitties, especially when I photograph alone; they like the sound of the human voice and love the attention. Don’t be afraid to sound silly!

I usually take my time getting those first shots off with each cat so I can gauge how they are going to act and to warm up to being out of a crate. I used to volunteer at the rescue (doing crates) years ago, and also worked as a vet tech, so I feel like I have a good grasp of cat behavior by now. They can vary so much in how they act when in that environment; we get a lot of our adults from hoarding situations and from a high-kill shelter in Eastern WA, so I’d say there are a good lot of freaked out kitties… (*more on behavior below)
There are also what we call ‘kitty suites’ at the rescue; 3 small rooms that have about 8-10 cats in them, and those I go into by myself. It gives the cats a better chance of acting more naturally and they also usually like having me as a visitor and come to investigate me. The only way to get the shy ones in these rooms is by doing a lot of tricky maneuvering, and having a zoom. I was using my 18-55mm kit lens (a kit lens is perfectly adequate!) in the rooms with flash (Nissin di622) on my Nikon D7000, but just got a Sigma 17-70mm so having a wee bit more reach can help with ones high on the beams or cat trees.
So I do use flash with my ‘elaborate’ filing cabinet setup; in that room, we have a painted wall in the corner and I use a floor-drop. Sometimes hanging a different fabric there instead, is a good way to change up the background.
I will use a faster prime with no flash if I decide it’s not worth harassing a kitty to come out of their ‘window’ or crate, and so am taking those with my head and camera in them. The lens that is nearly always have on my camera for these types of images is a 35mm 1.8. I love this little lens! If you can photograph in the front of a cage, enclosure or crate, this is the best lens for that, and no flash needed. Drive the ISO up, and don’t worry about noise in your final image; you can usually grab some great images at an f stop of about 2.8 – 4; you want those eyes in focus above anything else. I also wouldn’t go any lower than 1/100 for shutter speed for a chill cat.
*If you’re really pressed for time to get your images back to the shelter, or upload quickly to a site, shoot in JPEG to cut down on your workflow, but that said, I always shoot in RAW. I like the flexibility in post and have a workflow that involves mostly Lightroom for batch processing and quick changes.

Another important piece of advice is to take your time to gauge behavior and let the cat ‘warm up’. Study cat behavior, what makes cats tick, how they move, how they respond to you. Do this without a camera in front of your face on your own time. It will be enormously helpful. Obviously having that dedicated cat wrangler can help with difficult or anxious cats when you’re shooting in an environment like a rescue or shelter. Another person can help calm, distract, and comfort a nervous kitty. It’s also helpful with respect to having that person take cats in and out of cages/crates for me so I don’t have to put camera down, etc. But ultimately it’s up to you to really understand cats if you want to get good photos of them. Studying their behavior will also prevent scratches and bites! Those can totally ruin a good photo session…

Are you ready for the #1 tip???
It’s to HAVE PATIENCE. I can’t stress it enough! I am very deliberate about my photos with cats; I don’t click away on that shutter, and just ‘hope’ to catch something. Even if it takes a few minutes, something good will come if you wait. You can’t rush a cat! Some people that watch me shoot don’t understand why I’m not snapping away (the ‘spray and pray’ method); honestly it really doesn’t work unless you really are trying to get action shots. I feel like I do my best when letting the cats lead, and that takes a bit of waiting for the right moment. You can’t make a cat do anything they don’t want to!! I like that challenge. When I take my time too, I get a feel for what kind of personality I want to have people notice in the cats’ photo; I want to see their real characters come out. I want to see a connection in those beautiful cat eyes. That’s what people are drawn to when they see the photos. Your goal here it to get someone to notice the cat enough to want to meet them, just come into the rescue, and if you can do that with just one excellent image to show off the essence of that kitty, you have succeeded! Your images can make a difference and I promise you, they can save lives. It’s a wonderful thing to do.
Feel free to let me know if these tips help you in your quest to help at other shelters and rescues!

Anyway, you can find much more of my cat photography at http://facebook.com/kamoorephoto 🙂 :kitty: Come and follow my page!

xo ~ K

Some specific image examples below.

(*Please do not copy, share, alter, crop or use my images for your own, this is copyright infringement. Please contact me for permission to share or link to these images on your site. They are the intellectual property of K.A.MOORE PHOTOGRAPHY. I appreciate you respecting these requests ~ thank you!!*)

Taken with a prime with the kitty inside his crate

Taken with a prime with the kitty inside his crate

Taken at her foster home

Taken at her foster home

Taken up on the filing cabinet

Taken up on the filing cabinet

Taken high up  on a cat beam in a 'cat suite'

Taken high up on a cat beam in a ‘cat suite’

Taken from  outside her kitty window

Taken from outside her kitty window