I’ve art directed a lot of models in the past, from babies to middle-aged men, but a recent photo shoot with kittens was a real eye-opener!
Our client, Drymate (R) Pet Mats, was seeking a photo to include in the last of three ads we did in a series of “Drymate Surface Solutions” ads. They already had a great photo for their Dog Food Place Mat—a Mastiff lying in front of a very messy bowl. And they had staged a beautiful shot of their Grill Mat protecting a wooden deck surface. But a search through stock photography featuring cats and litter boxes quickly made it clear to me that: 1) Cats and litter boxes are not cute. 2) Adult cats usually look ticked off in photos unless they are being pet or fed.
Kittens were the obvious choice. Kittens can make anything look cute, even cat litter.
So Drymate set out to find kittens to borrow for the shoot, and I called on my frequent collaborator, Rod Wilson of Andrews Photography, to do the shoot at our new home.
The day of the shoot, Rod arrived early and we did some test shots for lighting. Our cat, Fred, graciously stood in:
When the kittens arrived, they were a bit shaken from the ride over. Ruth, from Drymate, picked up the little white one and made instant friends with the little gal. The other two eventually zipped out and hid behind our couch. The shoot was getting off to a slow start!
Eventually, we placed the kittens into the frame and began photographing like crazy. We quickly learned to photograph the kitten who was currently the most at ease, art directing his movement with a green feather wand.
(By the way, that’s a funny story. . .I walked into the reptile and pet shop off of 280 and University Ave about 9am the day before, in full business dress and soaked from rain, walked over the to pet wands, grabbed one, and immediately went to the counter to check out. “Needed your morning cat wand fix?” the shop employee asked. I suppose it look really weird!)
Over time, the kittens warmed to their environment and we started getting some fun, playful shots. We quickly swapped out the different product versions—including their Cat Food Mat— and just kept shooting and waving our little wand like crazy until we got the right shot. The shoot was part art direction and part kitten wrangling. At one point, the president of the company, his assistant, and myself were all on our hands and knees, trying to coax the kittens from behind couches and under our entertainment center.
In the end, we got some great shots (photos: Rod Wilson):