This is the best photograph I have seen of a cat looking like their owner. I don’t think you could get closer to a cat having an appearance of their owner than this one. The picture is by Gerrard Gethings. He is a London-based photographer who took a series of photographs of cats looking like their owners. The inspiration for the idea arrived when he saw a cat who looked exactly like the actor David Schwimmer. He said that that “pushed me over the edge, into thinking there was something in it”.
Taking pictures of animals is tricky in almost every way. I have never met one with even the slightest interest in photography.” Gerrard Gethings
Gethings had photographed dogs and their owners so he had experience of this genre of photography but, as expected, it was harder working with cats. He travelled to Norfolk, Scotland, Bristol and Cumbria to get the photographs. He travelled quite long distances and on one occasion the cat refused to come out from under the bed! You can see how defeating that must’ve felt having travelled long way to end up with nothing. Or perhaps he managed to get the picture in the end.
It can be very difficult to get cats to “perform” for the camera. I know because I have watched a professional cat photographer (Helmi Flick) in action in America and its normally takes two people, one behind the camera and one with the cat to animate and position them accurately, and the moments are fleeting. The photographer has to be quick on the shutter release. Patience is important and you have to know the limits of the domestic cat. After about 5-10 minutes it’s enough. You won’t get a good photograph much beyond five minutes. The photo sessions I witnessed were with pedigree show cats who were used to being around strangers. It is normally harder for the average moggy.
Gethings as a professional animal portraitist so he knows a lot about animals and how they behave in front of the camera (there are some great photos on his website. He started off as an abstract painter and worked as an assistant for the well-known portrait photographer Terry O’Neill. Terry O’Neill photographed famous people but Gerrard Gethings decided it would be more fun and interesting to photograph animals and he got his inspiration from a fine art book by Tim Flach of studio photos of dogs. That was his Eureka moment.
It had never occurred to me that you could do the kind of work that Terry did – high-end portraiture – of animals.