As a youngster growing up in California, I always wanted to be a Hollywood dog trainer. Well, that didn’t work out so well. But I do still love dogs, and I love working with them, despite what WC Fields said, “Never work with children or animals.” Being the rebel I am, I decided to work with both children and animals on this new ad campaign for Seattle Humane with The Hilt agency. And why stop there! Let’s also add a super wild drag queen, and a family with three teenage girls while we are at it. You know, just to make things more interesting!
Seattle Humane is a wonderful organization and I sincerely hope these images make them a lot of money so they can save even more animal lives. And some human lives too…
It’s jobs like this that remind me why I love photography so much. I laugh every time I look at this picture. How many CEO’s would be willing to be buried in cat litter and let a cat walk around their face? Not many. Although, I did get the cat litter with the blue crystals so it smelled really nice. It also serves as a good example of “you never know till you ask”.
Internet celebrity Ben Huh is the CEO and founder of the Cheezburger Network, the largest online humor network in the world. They run 50 hilarious blogs including I Can Has Cheezburger, Fail Blog, There I Fixed It, Failbook, Engrish Funny, and on and on. The first blog in the network was I Can Has Cheezburger which is a website dedicated to weird pictures of cat’s with pidgin-English captions. Ironic, because Ben is super allergic to cats, and even more amazing he was willing to do this shoot.
I have been working on larger productions and building sets quite a bit lately, and I am loving it. It is pretty fulfilling to take a concept like this (as dreamed up by AD Benjamen Purvis) and come up with a solution to make the idea a reality. A huge thank you goes out to Ben Huh (his personal blog is well worth the read) and Jen from Cheezburger Network, Benjamen Purvis and Matt Halverson from Seattle Met and Michele and Deanna from BuzzBuilders who were so great through the entire process.
Here is a behind the scenes video of working with Ben, and how I put this shot together.
If you are not familiar with the hilarious blogs on the Cheezburger Network, definitely take a few minutes to check them out. You will find something to make you smile for at least a few minutes.
This assignment really surprised me, and made a big impression on me. I’m not talking about being surprised by the locations that I shot at, or some impossible circumstances that came up during the assignment. I’m just talking about being surprised by people, and gaining an appreciation for the fact that everyone is different. Vicki and Janis love cats. As do many Americans. I am actually allergic to cats, so although I do not hate cats, I don’t really get excited about them either.
These two ladies love cats so much, they pour almost all of their time and energy into making the lives of feral cats as comfortable and safe as possible. As the tear sheet indicates, they trap, neuter, and release or find homes for feral cats.
I spent two days shooting this assignment, and on the second day, Janis drove me around her hometown to show me some of the feeding spots and cat shelters that she frequents. As we drove around, she would stop every few blocks, and fill up empty feeding dishes. I was amazed by the number of cat shelters and bowls that were hiding in the bushes, and behind businesses. Sometimes there were bowls right out in front of a business. It was a hidden world, like the Troll Market under the Brooklyn Bridge in Hellboy II, for those of you who saw it. You might walk by a cat shelter, or food bowl in public every day, and never even notice it. I can’t recall ever seeing one in my life, but there were dozens of stray cats living behind, under, and in front of buildings just within a few blocks. And all of these cats are given fresh food and water every single day by Janis and some of the other ladies who are involved. That’s a lot of money when you think about feeding hundreds of cats everyday.
While we were driving around from location to location, it really hit me. Every day, for years, these women have been caring for cats all over the city, and making a big difference. They prevent thousands of kittens from being born into difficult situations, and provide much better care for those cats that are already living without homes. While we were at a trailer park on the first day of shooting, a lady came out of her home, and thanked Vicki and Janis for what they are doing. She said that since they started fixing and caring for the cats in her neighborhood just weeks earlier, things have gotten much better. Cat’s were no longer urinating all over the place, and the frequent cat fights had pretty much stopped.
After my shoot with Vicki was over, I thanked her for what she is doing. Her work may not affect me directly, or at least in a way that I would have ever known about, but it is so good to see people caring for others (cats in this case). Trapping cats, and feeding them is not something that I will ever do, but I am thankful that there are people who do. That’s what I love about photography. I get to meet so many different people, and experience life from so many different points of view. I can just imagine what I would have thought when I was younger about “cat ladies”. Remember when so much of the country would laugh at “tree huggers”. I’m grateful for a new perspective. If everyone could find just one small way to care for people, animals, or the earth ,the changes would be great.
I have just been thinking about these things lately. Interestingly enough, some of my work has allowed me to experience first hand the needs of others, and what some people are doing to help. Thanks for reading.
You can read the entire article about TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) (here).
* If you are using a blog reader, you may need to visit my actual blog to see the cat slide show above.