Natalie and I have been friends since we met on the school bus in first grade. I haven't seen her and her husband Ben for two years! A lot has changed in those two years! They've moved back to their home state of Indiana with their baby girl Nora and their two rescues Costello, on the right, and Lexi on the left. This is the first time I've met their daughter and their dogs! They've created a very easy-going, furry family of five.
Natalie wanted 'down to earth' grassy family shots, which my Aunt and Uncle's backyard delivered. It was perfect, we could let the dogs off-leash without any worries, and the only distractions were an occasional bird or squirrel.
Here are two similar shots, but different focal lengths. I couldn't make up my mind if I liked the naturalistic shot with the large depth of field (more detail in the background), or the more artistic looking small depth of field (very blurry background).
This is what happily ever after looks like.
Seeing Nora feels like traveling back in time and seeing Natalie as a baby. Those eyes. Those cheeks! Oh my goodness! The drawer that Nora is sitting in was refinished by Natalie, and the blue knitted blanket in the background is the first knitted blanket Natalie ever made. I was there when she knitted it, probably ten years ago, because I learned to knit alongside Natalie. One of the many things I adore about Natalie is how she's so thoughtful and puts so much sentiment and meaning into everything she does.
Here are some shots of Costello. He was the first furbaby Natalie and Ben adopted after moving to Colorado! He was a little timid at first, but I gave him plenty of space and used my zoom until he trusted me more. What a handsome, fluffy guy!
Whenever a camera is around, Lexi does her best Audrey Hepburn, doe-eyed wistful look. She is the ultimate people lover, and lives to greet people. She's always by Natalie's side in the house, helping put Nora to sleep for naps, and hanging out during changing time. She loves protecting her family and nanny-ing baby Nora. Nana from Peter Pan would approve!
Love, Love, Love. Just in case you didn't notice, those lilac colored flowers match Lexi's collar! Seriously!
I worked with Costello and Lexi while Nora had an outfit change, but like the good watchdogs they are they kept checking on Momma and baby periodically.
This was a touching end to our session! Natalie's husband had the sweet idea to go back to Main Street, Zionsville and recreate some of their wedding shots from 2008! Those were taken in a snowy November, so the contrast and change is really fantastic. I hope they keep doing updates as their family grows and changes over the years. Can you imagine a wall gallery in their home of the changes over time?
What a joy! It was so rewarding to shoot this session for my best friend. One of our favorite things to do in High School was photo shoots in Arbuckle park in Brownsburg and neighboring corn fields. Some things never change!
And because I just can't resist, here's a picture of Natalie and I in first or second grade, at the Indianapolis Zoo, visiting the polar bears of course! That's my big brother Shawn on the left. Fanny packs! Oh boy!
To be completely honest with you, I’m scared about my next project, and uncomfortable writing this post. But, I’m willing to bet it’s because the project I want to tackle is too big and ambitious, and I’m afraid I’ll fail. However, if I push through the fear, I’m sure I will learn new things and continue to grow as a photographer. And if its art created out of love for something, it really can’t go all wrong, right?
I love books, and I love Children’s Books even more. I worked at a library for four years in High School, worked at Borders in Sarasota for 2-3 years while in college, studied Children’s Book Illustration and Children’s Book Literature in college at Ringling.
Little known fact about me: I wrote and illustrated 2 picture books as well as wrote an easy reader chapter book for classwork while at Ringling College. Did I ever submit or publish anything? No! It wasn’t ‘perfect’ enough... but I did get an A, and my Mom was really proud!
Reading, writing, and art have battled for my mind, heart, and my time all my life. But why? Why do they have to battle? Why can’t I have it all? I started to think back to how many amazing pets were in children’s books and became so inspired. Children’s Book Illustration meets Pet Photography? Why not?
I’ve fallen into a ‘rabbit-hole’ for sure. Yes, that pun was intended too.
I’m rediscovering old favorites and catching up on classics I somehow missed out on.
Here comes the feedback part I mentioned earlier:
1. I want to limit my source material for the project only to chapter books and novels for kids, no picture books. To me, the picture books are so literally visual already, and I personally want more words to visually interpret. If there’s a children’s chapter book or novel that featured a pet which you loved, please share it with me via comments below this blog post or if you’re reading this through my newsletter go ahead and reply via email.
2. And the other item on my mind is whether or not to require a small participation fee from the volunteers, $25 or less. Any participation fee would go towards a product purchase. I want to make sure everyone that signs up to volunteer is really passionate about participating in the project. I think with the Dogs of Manatee County Calendar I proved myself worthy and reliable. I had too many volunteers for the calendar project and had to turn some away. I want to make sure in my next project that everyone who is involved is really excited to be involved, and I believe a small participation fee would guarantee that. Am I crazy? Participants are already volunteering their time, would a fee be too much and discourage anyone from signing up? If you feel passionately about this issue either way, again please share it with me via comments below this blog post or if you’re reading this through my newsletter go ahead and reply via email.
I feel better after writing this. At least the project is not a secret anymore, and now you can all watch it grow and develop with me. I’m excited!
I think other cat lovers will agree that for every 10 dog-lover’s product there’s probably just 1 cat-lover’s product. I love dogs, but I love cats too, and the cat lover in me is always a little bit jealous by everything available for dog lovers.
So when I saw that Chronicle was publishing an entire book devoted to the cats of famous artists, Artists and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi, I sat up a little straighter, prouder, and pre-ordered the book to make sure I didn’t forget about it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Quick housekeeping, I’m writing this post on my own volition out of love for this book. I’m not affiliated with the publisher. I’m just a fan-girl book nut who wants to share one of my favorite books with you! However, some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What a treasure trove! Of course I was looking forward to seeing my favorite artists like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe with their cats, but I really enjoyed discovering new artists I had never heard of before. Keep your smartphone handy while browsing because when you get to artists you’re not familiar with you’ll want to look up their work.
Do yourself a favor and don’t look at the contents page. Let yourself be surprised with every page turn!
I learned I have something in common with Gustav Klimt! We both named our cats ‘Katze’, which is German for ‘cat’.
Side note: Katze and I both relish a good ‘new book smell.’
I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone in any way, so carry on and buy Artists and Their Cats here if you want to be completely surprised, and come back when you’re done reading it.
I’d love to share with you my favorite artist from the book and my favorite photo.
Nastasi did an excellent job succinctly summarizing each artist’s career and cat relationship. The artist who completely impressed me, and I also had never heard of was Suzanne Valadon on pages 98 and 99:
“Any cat lucky enough to call nineteenth-century French artist Suzanne Valadon a friend was in for an adventure. The first female painter granted acceptance to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Valadon began her career as a circus acrobat. She became a respected art model, posing for well-known painters such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, and Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, and later married her own sitter, painter André Utter. With encouragement from friends, including Edgar Degas, Valadon began her own foray into the art world. She was known for her female nudes--a subject most women artists eschewed during the period. Her vibrant still lifes, portraits, and interiors often included cats. Several such companions took up residence in her studio over the years. The free-spirited artist used her finest fashions to create beds for them. Her kitties were lavished with beluga caviar on Fridays and kept company by a German sheep dog and a goat, which she fed her bad drawings to.”
Nastasi, Alison. Artists and Their Cats. Chronicle, 2015. Print.
I’m surprised no one has turned her fantastic life story into a Hollywood blockbuster. She sounds fascinating!
Now my absolute favorite photo in this photography-filled-book is on page 57, for Henri Cartier-Bresson and Martine Franck. It is one of those photos that seems lucky and genius all rolled into one. I’m unsure about sharing the image due to copyright concerns, however you can check it on slide 9 of this article/slideshow from Time: “Our cat Ulysses and Martine's shadow,” 1989. Henri Cartier-Bresson—Magnum Photos.
Small, but mighty at 6” x 8”...the book is very portable while still packing in the content. You can snuggle up with it on the couch without straining your wrists, and if your cat wants to join there’s space for both! They probably didn’t think of that when designing it, but its true. Katze proves it!
I highly recommend this book to any cat lover because it really does honor the cat-human bond in a sophisticated way, which is truly a refreshing break from the comedic treatments of cats we typically see.
Do you have any recommendations of books for cat lovers? I’m always on the hunt, so leave me a note in the comments! Or if you’re reading this post via email newsletter, reply with any suggestions <3
“Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo . . . so many great artists have shared one very special love: the companionship of cats. Gathered here for the first time are behind-the-scenes stories of more than 50 famous artists and their feline friends. From Salvador Dali's pet ocelot Babou to John Lennon and Yoko Ono's menagerie of cats, including Salt (who was black) and Pepper (who was white), Artists and Their Cats captures these endearing friendships in charming photographs and engaging text, and reveals what creative souls and the animals best known for their independent spirits have in common. In this clever compilation, art aficionados will discover a softer side of their favorite artists, and cat lovers will enjoy a whole new way to celebrate their favorite furry friends.”
#artistsandtheircats #chroniclecrush #alistasi
I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks about pets who are long gone. Marmalade is the ‘one who started it all’ for me. His memory certainly lives on in my home through my girls Katze and Jayla. What better way to honor a pet who has passed by opening up your heart and home to a new pet who needs love?
We’re friends; we have a common interest of loving animals as well as loving great images of them. As your friend, I want to tell you a secret. Which is the real reason why photographers use a watermark, a logo or copyright notice overlaying the photo, and trust me it is not what you think.