The next set of photos I need for my book involve Soda Pop tearing up a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom, which is something he used to do in real life if left to his own devices when he was a kitten. Soda Pop is going on 4 years old now, and although he still plays when one of our family plays WITH him, he rarely tears up anything on his own. He does have a cat-wrestling buddy in our other male cat, Sunny–they spend much of the humans’ sleeping hours pounding up and down our hallway, pausing to whap each other around righteously before chasing each other to a different part of the house. But, that is a completely separate story.
Anyway, my 11 year old son was recruited to help me do the photography for this part of the book. He is very good and patient with our animals, and I needed a cat-wrangler for this one. The bathroom we worked in was small, and Soda is not normally in there, so this was a challenge in comfort level with him. However, after a few tries and much petting, he relaxed in the bathroom on the floor, and watched intently as we “decorated” him with swirls of toilet paper.
He purred and allowed his picture to be taken for several minutes. Then, we cleaned up the t.p., and we were done!
The next shot involves Soda eating from a pot of stew on our countertop. Soda doesn’t like stew, normally–he is crazy about his cat food and treats, but stew isn’t his “thing”, normally. My son and I thought he might be curious as to what was in the empty pot to just stick his head in, but, no dice. He isn’t usually allowed on our counter top, so I imagine the unfamiliar surroundings had something to do with it. We put dried catnip in the pot—still not interested. Finally, I busted out the leftover chicken breast, and that did the trick.
Soda clearly loves chicken breast. After the shot of him with his head in the stewpot, I thought we should try for one of him jumping up on the counter. My son waggled a stem of artificial flowers (what we had on hand) over the counter to lure him into leaping, but the only thing that really helped was the unplanned barking of our dog, Sophia. After we had nearly given up, the dog barked, the cat lept, and I got the pic.
And, Soda was rewarded with some more chicken breast. We all won. Two photo “sets” was enough for one day, so we folded up production to continue the next day.
1. Have a good, patient person to handle animals for photo shoots.
2. Figure out what motivates your animal and have it on hand–chicken breast = success–with Soda Pop, at least.
3. Plan every shot ahead of time and source what you need–for these shots, I knew I would use one roll of toilet paper, the stewpot, and of course, bathroom and kitchen locations.
4. When you and the animal are tired, stop. Cross what you managed to finish off your list and start the next day.
5. Reward the animal richly for desired behavior, even if it is just sitting still. And love them up afterwards as well.
Equipment used—Canon 7d camera, a couple different lenses that function well in daylight without flash. I am trying to use natural light as much as possible in this book, because I feel flash spoils the look of the story. I want the book to look like Soda Pop in his house, not Soda in a photo studio shot with a bunch of professional equipment. Other than the camera and lenses, and the few props mentioned above, that is it. Of course, the computer and software to edit the images are very important as well. But these shots can be done with simple point-and-shoot digital cameras as well, so please don’t let the lack of “professional” gear stop you from photographing anything creatively.
I ended up shooting over 200 shots for these two different “sets”, which will amount to maybe 4 pages in the book. I only have a few more “sets” to shoot–we’ll start with Candy next time, and maybe do Cupid as well. Then comes the more interesting, difficult part of setting up the book format, page design, and any other illustration work that needs to be done.
Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities. She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end. There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride! You may learn more about Tracy here. You may follow her on Facebook here.