One of the most popular questions I get asked when people learn of my job is ‘Who has been the most difficult celebrity to photograph?’
Well, lets just say there’s a new name heading the top slot. Streetcat Bob.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a cat lover. This isn’t some anti-cat propaganda I’m trying to spew. I’m not a Donald Trump figure of the animal world. I actively choose to photograph peoples cats in my spare time just so I can hang out with them for a bit, I flipping LOVE cats. And I love Bob. He’s bought so much joy to so many people. My own Auntie who sadly lost her cat last week even managed to raise a smile when I sent over a photo of him after our shoot, not to mention the fact that he completely turned around his owner James’ life. That’s incredible. I was truly excited to meet him, and he didn’t disappoint. He’s strong and sturdy with the softest fur and his paws are particularly impressive, they’re so big like a tigers. He’s gorgeous.
After an hour spent scrabbling around the floor of a London skate park in mud and broken glass, I was almost beat. It was never going to be easy to get a cover shot of him on his own, so often he is photographed on the shoulders of James, secure from a height, and more able to focus from there. But placed on the floor there are so many new smells and vibrations dragging his attention away from me and my camera. I tried all my best cat impressions, I threw in the odd dog bark just to see if the element of surprise would work, I called his name at various octaves, I made a clicking sound in my mouth (not sure where I was going with that), I also clapped at one point, which was never going to work considering I needed to be holding the camera in case he did deign to look at me. Finally we resorted to an old trick but a goodie. A treat. Salmon pate.
Lying belly down on the floor, poised, heart racing with adrenaline, finger securely placed on the shutter button, I waited as he was fed the pinkish paste from it’s pouch, seconds felt like hours, days, months as he hungrily devoured it’s contents. The pouch moved away, his head lifted, licking his face clean and then….BANG his gaze shifted straight down the lens for the briefest moment.
He won for sure, but thankfully I didn’t lose.