A Message from Photographer Don Lewis

To me, there is something engaging in seeing a picture of a cat in a natural setting. It has drama. We weave little scenarios around it. Is the cat hunting? Being hunted? Natural settings seem to emphasize the cat’s photogenic qualities.

In our backyard tabbies, it’s not difficult to see a reflection of their larger, fearsome cousins. Tabby, fawn, spotted and black are all types of coats that domestic cats share with wild felines.

When photographing cats outdoors, especially in foliage, it is frequently necessary to use electronic flash to supplement the existing light. I usually bounce the flash off a large reflector, creating an illuminated area within the foliage. This method presents a number of problems, the most notable of which – as anyone who has photographed cats knows – is getting the cat to occupy the illuminated area. The key to a successful photograph lies in obtaining a subtle balance between natural and artificial light.

During the winter months, I photograph my cats indoors, using props such as rocks and potted plants to create the appearance of natural settings. When shooting active, elusive subjects such as cats, a certain amount of time spent patiently observing through the viewfinder is a necessity. However, you may find the observing to be an enjoyable activity in itself. As the French writer, Colette, observed, “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” So, after a hard day in your backyard jungle, take off your pith helmet, have a gin and tonic and congratulate yourself on having survived a day in the wild with Felis silvestris catus.