James Mitchell Photography Blog

Curiosity saved the cat!

An experience photographing a very curious cat.!

It's always a pleasure to give some of my time to one of the local charities here on Lanzarote. For years I've supported the Triwwww -still do -(Sports charity) and now I'm getting more involved with the local animal shelter 'Sara Protectora de Animales', and with hindsight, something I should have done years ago.


I got asked to photograph one of the 'incarcerated' animals for an 'awareness' exhibition, which I duly obliged.

I went to the animal shelter, thinking I'd be photographing a dog ... But not on this occasion, I got asked to photograph a cat. Although I own a dog,  I am also I'm a cat lover, but I know how cats can be. They don't do 'sit' or understand basic commands, so I was thinking this could be challenging.

The cat I was meant to photograph was ill this particular day, so I was introduced to my new subject.. Expósito. 

Out of around 20 cats in the cattery, he was the most extrovert and curious.. I'd gone to the photo shoot all kitted-up, I thought, if I'm gonna do a photoshoot with a cat I'll treat it as if I'm doing a photoshoot with a person.... So there I was in the smallish room with my tripods, background sheet & Profoto studio lighting, trying to set up whilst a volunteer was still mopping the floor, emptying litter trays and filling cat bowls with biscuits. 

I was then left alone.. Me, twenty cats and my photography equipment.  

All the cats, apart from Expósito sat on top of cages or window sills, anywhere to get out of the way of my equipment....  

Expósito wanted to know everything .. Who was this guy that invaded my space? why so much stuff?... What is this stuff?  

"Woohh, what's this? A battery, a usb cable!!...  " ... Expósito was into everything and anything he could find in my bag. 

Pre-shoot: Expósito have a dig through my bag. 

Pre-shoot: Expósito have a dig through my bag. 

Not satisfied with the contents of my bag, he now wanted to get in.. If you've owned a cat, you'll know that most are obsessed with getting into small spaces, such as a box or a bag.... Without realizing he was handing me photo opportunities on a plate... Maybe this cat was 'working' the moment, he knew this was his opportunity to shine, and he wasn't going to waste a minute doing that. 


I then introduced my camera bag, and any small bits of equipment on to the makeshift 'studio' floor.. He was happy, I was even happier.. He'd play, I'd snap away. 

The other cats got curious too.. Havoc did start to brew when one cat went behind the backdrop I'd created.. Expósito thought it was then a fun game of hide and seek .. Until he dug his claws into the material backdrop and everything nearly went crashing down.  


I photograph lots of different subjects, it makes life interesting and keeps my job varied.. I love to photograph sports and I've been shooting weddings for the last 10 years, but nothing gives me more satisfaction than getting a couple of nice shots of animal.. They're unpredictable, and untrained (for photography) and unrehearsed.. You just know everything you see is 100% real and their true nature.  


I was so surprised to learn that Expósito has been in Sara for five years. Such a great friendly cat.. I would have taken him with me, but my dog loves to chase cats...

He seems to be enjoying his time there, making the most of it, but I guess, even more so, he'd like to be outside.. Being inquisitive!  

Find out more about Sara Animal Shelter here: http://saraprotectora.org/   

If you can't adopt, they welcome anyone to come and volunteer with dog walking.  

Join in.