Anji Martin is a Washington DC based photographer who specializes in wedding photography, portraits – and cats. Her company, Potok’s World Photography, is named after her beloved cat Potok, who was her best friend. Potok passed away in October of 2013.
Anji’s cat photos are absolutely stunning. She has a way of capturing her feline subjects’ unique personalities. I was delighted to get a chance to ask Anji some questions about cat photography.
How did you get started photographing cats?
When our little kitty Potok (pictured below) was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure in 2012, I decided to hire a photographer to document some of her time with us. The idea was to create something that we could hold on to if the worst should happen. As it turned out, I am so glad that I made that decision. Potok ultimately passed away in October 2013, and those pictures serve as a priceless reminder of her and how special she was to us. When I launched my photography business, I resolved to offer this same opportunity to other cat parents. And not just when a cat is sick. There are so many beautiful moments to preserve forever, and it’s best to capture them early! So that’s how I ended up adding cat photography to my portfolio.
How do you approach a photo shoot with a cat?
I usually start by getting the owner to tell me a little more about the cat’s personality before the session. The response helps determine the best setting for the shoot (indoors vs. outdoors, for example). When I arrive at the location and set up my equipment, I let the cat come and check out what’s going on. With the owner’s consent, I usually bring a small toy or treat to help “break the ice.” Of course, when it’s all said and done, the cat is the one who decides when it feels comfortable enough to let me take the picture!
How do you get a cat to look at the camera?
I usually have my husband and trusty assistant stand behind me with a toy or something else that captures the cat’s attention. Once I have everything set for the picture, I get him to wave it over my head or wherever it is I want the kitty to look. Luckily cats are so curious!
What is the most challenging experience you had while photographing a cat?
One time, a breeder hired me to photograph a group of six cats, and getting them all to sit still was pretty difficult! Even if I could get two to look at me, they would immediately get distracted the minute the other ones did something. But they were so cute and filled with energy that I ended up getting some pretty good action shots!
What is the funniest experience you had while photographing a cat?
Cats have minds of their own, and every once in a while they decide to remind me! During a recent session, my cat model sat and looked at me (or at the toy above my head) until I had pushed the “click” button halfway down. Then they kitty would turn around and immediately show me its less photogenic end!
Do you have any tips for our readers on how to get good photos of cats?
For those who are a bit more adept with a camera, take photos of cats without using a flash. The bright light can be a bit much for eyes that are designed to see in near darkness. Potok hated the flash, and I think that she learned to recognize the sound it about to go off. When she would hear it, she would turn away so as not to be blinded. I photograph our new cat, Bean, without a flash, and she doesn’t seem to mind looking at the camera. Or maybe her experience as a show cat makes her a more willing model. If you have to use a flash, try to find something that captures the cat’s attention. I have found that the more a cat focuses on something other than the camera, the more likely it is to be a good subject. Also, rewarding them with a little treat for sitting still is an effective way to encourage good behavior.