HOWTO take "magazine cover pictures" of your cat (1955)

Who can resist the advice of the "world's most famous cat photographer"? I hear he got the title from the World Cat Photography Society, which, as any fool can tell you, is the world's leading authority on the subject.

How to Photograph Cats (Oct, 1955)


  1. If I had at any time in my life stopped to think about what a “world’s most famous cat photographer” might look like,  that’s exactly what I would have thought.

    Right down to the mustache.

    1. That has to be “Comment of the week” on this or any other website. I’m still sniggering quietly after 10 minutes.

  2. I love the not-so-subtle suggestion that ‘cat psychology’ can also on children! This is just great. 

    1. Why am I sure that you couldn’t take a decent picture of a cat, a puppy, or a child if your life depended on it?

      Why am I sure that you think photographic lighting is the flash on a digital camera?

  3. Here’s a recent interview with Chandoha

    with this excerpt

    But again, let’s go back. While in college I augmented my GI Bill subsistence allowance by shooting weddings and entering photo contests and sometimes winning cash prizes. And during one winter I found a homeless cat in the snow, gave her a home and sometimes used her (and later her kittens) as a model. Most of the winning pictures I entered in contests were of cats and kittens. In addition to entering contests with my cat pictures I made feature picture stories involving cats and sometimes sold them to New York newspapers. These efforts were so successful that once in a while I got requests for cat pictures from magazines and ad agencies. More of my stuff was published, and I was getting a minor reputation as a cat photographer. Then I made my big decision—I quit the job I didn’t enjoy, drove home and started freelancing as a specialist in cat photography. We starved for two years, were happy and although I did not realize it at the time, we were building a stock picture file that is still yielding today, some 50 years later.

    1. Thanks for this. While the vintage ad is entertaining, this interview is really interesting to those of us who would gladly join a World Cat Photography Society. I had never heard of this fellow and now I want to know more. His city photos in that interview were stunning.

      Bonus: a gorgeous set of pics of a tabby by Walker Evans:

  4. I looked through his portfolio and not one photo of a piece of meat taped to a cat. He’s no longer the world’s greatest.

  5. I want a copy of that book. I’ve been thinking — call me crazy if you want — that if I could get some good, moving pictures of cats I could post them on  Youtube. I bet cat movies on the Internet could really take off!

    1. “A trio of striking photographs by Edward Steichen are also on view, another example of work of the highest caliber.In 1921, Steichen traveled with the dancer Isadora Duncan to Athens in the hope that he could film her spirited movements among the ruins of the Acropolis. Duncan dragged her feet on the filming project once they got there. But Steichen did seize the opportunity to photograph Duncan at the west portal of the Parthenon. With a Kodak Brownie borrowed from a hotel waiter, Steichen captured images of Duncan in a characteristic pose. “

  6. Lemme tell you about cat psychology: The cat does whatever the hell it wants, when it wants to, looking at you disdainfully all the while.

  7. Why is Bashar al-Assad taking pictures of cats?

  8. Much as I’d like to make a snarky comment on the moustache/windowless van correlation, I have to say that this guy has doggedly (yes…) pursued and achieved a great deal of success. I went the freelance route for over 15 years in Boston and I don’t own a 47-acre anything. Should have built a stock library of innocuous animal and plant photos.

    Maybe I could ask him why, when people find out I work/ed as a photographer, they insist on showing me their cat pictures.

  9. Boing Boing belittles photographer. Classy.

    It’s a sad day indeed when an observant human being with practical, money saving knowledge is ridiculed.

    Dismissing vintage cat photography is a direct attack on the free, inclusive nature of photography itself. It burdens photography with a divisive air of pretentious elitism. Boing Boing’s unfunny, condescending caption was a cruel jab at outsiders.

    “And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it’s this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture.” – One Hour Photo (2002).

    1. I don’t see any ridicule, just good-natured fun at the now-peculiar mores and expressions of a recent but very different time. Lighten up, Francis.

  10. Thank mr Chandoha for the Internet! His need for a public repository for cat pictures is what got it all started.

    1. How about: “Grammar in Use is one of the largest selling textbooks to the academic ESL market”.

      Or: “Lindley began writing school textbooks. He wrote eleven of them, beginning in 1795, and became the largest-selling author in the world in the first half of the nineteenth century.”

      Or: “World’s Largest Selling English Newspaper”

      Or:  “I thought of “Murphys” (the largest selling grammar book on the market”

      You should get out more.  And/or read more.  And snipe less.

      1. I still think it’s an odd construction. I’d expect (and certainly, strongly prefer) best-selling, or maybe fastest-selling (w/ slightly different meaning). “Largest selling”, especially without the hyphen, makes me think the cans are pretty damn heavy. And I’m wondering about the dimensions of Grammar in Use, the book mentioned in your first citation; can a student even lift the thing without help?

        As for your admonishment to snipe less, I took your lead and advice and went out looking for the snipe you mentioned, but couldn’t find any.

        1. And yet, if you google “largest selling” you get 2,700,000 hits — with and without a dash.  So there is a bit of a discrepancy between what YOU expect and what YOU prefer and what the rest of us in the English-speaking world say and write.

          Should I tell you what “Little John” makes me think of?

          Next time you go snipe hunting, use a mirror ….. and a dictionary.

          SNIPE: 1) shooting at other people from a concealed place;  2) to make malicious, underhand remarks or attacks.

          G’day, mate!

          1. What, did I step on your foot? Why are you insulting me for asking about the turn of phrase, while other commenters are poking fun at Mr. Chandoha’s moustache, head shape, and profession, and you give them no notice?

            I think you need to review the meanings of “snipe”.

          2. First of all, I haven’t insulted you … yet.  You need but read.

            Second, we all know you didn’t “ask about the turn of phrase”.  You were smugly pointing out what you considered it’s lack of grammatical precision.  So I pointed out that it is grammatically correct … or at least in very common usage.  And gave a few million examples. Including grammar books.

            Third, the last time I heard anyone defend himself by saying “Gee, Mr. Weatherby.  Tommy said worse things!” was on a grade-school playground.

            Fourth, I posted two of the meanings of snipe directly from the dictionary.  No review needed.

  11. My grandmother had a copy of one of Chandoha’s books of cat photographs. Beautiful pictures of adorable kitties… I would page through it for hours… 

  12. Is it just my age (pushing 60), or do kids these days have no respect for their elders or history?

    I’m pleased to learn that the guy whose photos cheered and amused me when I was growing up is still alive and still photographing.  Growing up, you read books and look at photos in a sponge-like manner.  You absorb everything, indiscrimnately.   But with time and experience, you mind undergoes a paradigm shift and you start to realize that these books and pictures have a creator behind them, and that some of these creators have talents and approaches that distinguish them from others.

    With books, it was Robert Heinlein whose name I first realized could be a marker for other works I would enjoy.  With photography, it was Walter Chandoha.

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