Aby-a-Day – 24 September 2020: Taking photos of cats is a crapshoot (Thursday Things)

I have been taking photos of cats for over 50 years, ever since my dad gave me a Brownie Starflash camera when I was four years old.

I mean, even the manual said it was meant to take photos of cats!

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In the old film days, I could take a photo of a cat at 1/8 of a second, which is a really slow shutter speed. I could hold that still. So I know I can seem to make taking photos of cats look easy.

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Just remember…no matter how long you’ve been taking photos, you can still end up with photos like this. At least I don’t have to pay for film and processing any more!

Other People’s Abys – Rie Komoto’s Aby shows his true colours in National Geographic

This incredible shot featured by National Geographic was taken by Rie Komoto of what happened when her Aby variant*, Meelo, saw a sparrow hit a window.

Thanks to Helen Warn of the Facebook Abyssinian Cat Club for this link!

*Meelo is an Aby variant because he carries the longhair gene. One of his parents was a Somali.

Chanan at work

I love when I find random Abyssinians on the internet. I was actually looking for photos of Persians from the 1960’s (their noses were different back then) and I came across this Photo of Richard Katris (aka Chanan) and an Aby:

It’s part of a slideshow about the Cotton States CFA show in 2008 published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Not sure how I missed this…but then, I wasn’t really doing this blog on a daily basis back in 2008.

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Recently, our friend Summer the Somali met Richard, too. Apparently, she wasn’t the best model, but I can’t wait to see her photos! This isn’t Summer, but I got to watch Richard work with another Somali at one of the shows we went to in Groton, CT, a few years ago.

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Here, Richard checks the shots he’s taken of a red-point Birman.

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Jacoby has been photographed by Richard twice: once just before he became a Grand Premier back in 2011…

And again in 2012.

I love watching Richard work. As I’ve said many times, I’m a total fangirl. He’s one of my heros, my idols, my inspirations…and that’s really true. Growing up in California in the 1970’s, I remember seeing his photos when he was starting out. He’s become one of THE cat photographers in the country (there are others, but he was really the first). And not only that, he’s utterly and completely just a nice guy. I love talking with him. He has a million great stories that he’s happy to spin for you as long as he isn’t working.

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You’ll often see him wandering about the show hall with his camera, taking candids and chatting. I’ve had some great conversations with him; once, he gave me tips on my new SLT camera, and then at the Seacoast show in Concord, NH, we shared tricks we use in Photoshop to touch up cat photos.

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And he doesn’t just do portraits! Here he is talking shots of an Egyptian Mau kitten in the agility room at the CFA Annual in Quincy, MA.

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I got to see him again at the World Show in Philadelphia this past November. Sadly, it was much too busy to really have time to chat. Perhaps I’ll get a chance again if he’s at the Seacoast show in May. Maybe I’ll even have Jake’s photos taken again!

He doesn’t take photos of humans often, but it’s been known to happen…I even got my photo taken with Jake once! Of course…I was in costume, but still. One of my all-time idols took a photo of me and my cat. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Aby-a-Day – October 17: Like father, like son (Flashback Friday)

Look at these photos of Jacoby and his father, GC Pellburn Scarface Cat Pacino, both taken by Chanan six years apart.

This is Scar in 2006.

This is Jake in 2012. Of course, they aren’t identical twins; Jake was three years old when his photo was taken while Scar was only two, and Scar was a whole male so he had the fuller jowls, but you can definitely see the family resemblance!

And, just for fun, here’s Jake’s mother, Ch. Instincts Santa Catalina of Pellburn, in a photo taken last year. Jake takes after his mother quite a bit, too!

Aby-a-Day – December 2: No business like it (Hipstamatic Monday)

When Jacoby and I were at the Westchester Cat Show, it seemed like everyone knew who he was.

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Even when he was just chilling out in his borrowed show cage, Jake was a center of attention.

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A lot of people wanted to take his photo.

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Of course, Jake was completely fine with that. I’ve never seen him turn down a photo opportunity!

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Like this young man, who asked if he could take some photos of Jake.

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Of course, I said yes…and he took more than a few photos.

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I thought he was going to stick his head right into Jake’s shelter!

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I really wonder how his photos turned out. I wish I’d thought to give him my card so he could send me copies.

Candid shots from Westchester

At the Westchester show this past weekend, the club had a photographer, Olek Kuperberg, taking candid shots throughout the day. Here are the ones he took of Jacoby and I.

A cat nap between rings.

Posing with our poster.

Close up on his face.

Looking good from the front…

…from the back, though, not so much.

You can see all of the shots he took on his website.

Aby-a-Day – November 10: Two sides of the same stump

Sometimes you just see something, and you instantly think “Ooohh…I have GOT to take photos of that!”

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So, when we were on our way to our hotel room at the NEMO show last month in Sturbridge, I couldn’t wait to get some photos of Jacoby on this big tree stump.

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And Jake being Jake, he was perfectly willing to oblige me and pose on it.

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It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon.

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And it was a wonderfully huge tree stump.

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And Jake was pleased as punch to be up on top of that big stump, too.

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“I am ABY!”

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“Hear me ROAR!”

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My dad always told me not to shoot photos into the sun, but sometimes, it works to your advantage and gives you some dramatic shots.

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You know, the “pensive looking into the distance” kind of shot.

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Jake’s really good at that.

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I think he was really enjoying that tree stump. When he was on it, he was taller than I am, and cats always love to be as high as they can be. Plus, he’s always happy when he’s getting his photo taken…no matter where we are.

Aby-a-Day – October 27: Ready for his close-up

One of the best things about cat shows is the raffle table. Some of the prizes are really great, and there’s actually a decent chance of winning the prize you’re interested in. At the NEMO show, I bought 100 tickets and really wanted to win two prizes: the Thundershirt on Saturday, and the photo session with Bille Axell, the show photographer, on Sunday. Coincidentally, these were the two prizes I won!

The photo shoot was the most awesome prize I’ve ever won at a cat show raffle. Jacoby’s had a few professional sessions at shows, including two with my idol, Chanan, but this was one of the most fun.

Part of the fun was that the raffle winners were announced before all the judging was completed. Bille is a candid photographer as well as a studio photographer, so he was more than willing to take some extra photos as part of my prize package.

Russell Webb’s finals hadn’t been announced yet, and Jake has historically done well in Russell’s rings. This year, we’ve seen him at two shows (Seacoast in Concord, NH back in May, and Sanguine Silver/Half Moon in Boxborough in August) he was Best Cat in Premiership and Second Best Cat in Premiership. So I asked Bille to wait to see how Jake did in Russell’s shorthair specialty ring.

And it was worth waiting for…Jake was Best Shorthaired Cat in Premiership on Sunday!

Bille was also very open to suggestions and improvisation, which made it that much more fun. When he asked what colour background I wanted, I suggested we use Jake’s signature leopard print instead of the conventional solid. Bille thought that was an awesome idea…and I think it turned out really well.

Bille also thought it would be fun to take a few shots of Jake with my camera. I love these.

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Bille also let me take a few photos of him taking photos of Jake.

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If you’ve ever wanted to know what it looks like behind the scenes of those amazing studio portraits you see of cats online and in magazines…well, this is what happens! And be sure to check out Bille’s website to see more of his wonderful photos!

Calendar Cats: Today’s the day!

Today’s Jacoby’s day in the sun…on the Page-a-Day calendar!

Jake will be seen on people’s desks all over the world today! And this is one of my favourite photos of him, too.

If you’re coming here to see Jacoby because of the calendar, then welcome!! I’ve had quite the uptick in visitors today 🙂

Aby-a-Day – April 29: Shadows (Hipstamatic Monday)

Sometimes I like to take photos of our shadows when Jacoby and I are out for a walk.

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It’s a different sort of self-portrait.

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An ephemeral one, to be sure, but still interesting.

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One cloud, and the whole picture changes.

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But what is a photograph, anyway, but a moment of light and shadow captured forever?

Aby-a-Day – January 22: Focal point (Cartoon Tuesday)

Jacoby’s love of the camera is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is really easy to get him to pose. On the other hand, however…it’s really hard to take a photo of anything else in the house!

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(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – December 29: Meeting the welders

Jacoby and I took a walk to the Post Office on Christmas Eve for a final mail check, and on the way we stopped to take a few photos to use for the illustrations for my “Romeo & Jacoby” story (which, yes, I know I need to finish)…

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…and we got to actually meet the welders! They happened to be just leaving as we were there, and we started taking. “They” are Brad and Jason, his son. I also got to meet Jason’s daughters, Natalie and Gwendolyn. Brad was kind enough to let me inside the gate to take photos, and he told me the real names of some of the cats: Mama Cat is Fuzzy, the torbie I call Ginger is named Baby, and the longhair black kitten twins are Booger (the boy) and Boogie (the girl).

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I think this is the boy, Booger.

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And this, I think, is his sister, Boogie. Both of them are huge, glossy, healthy cats…I remember them from when they were kittens.

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Here’s Baby, aka Ginger. She is super skittish. When I came in, she ran away. This is the closest I could get to her.

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She’s such a gorgeous cat. It was so cool to go inside the gate and see all the little cat beds and hidey-holes that Brad has built for the cats that you can’t see from the outside. And I got a lot of good background photos for the story’s illustrations. That’s one of my New Year’s resolutions, to work on the Romeo & Jacoby story…and I have plenty of illustrations to work on now!

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Jake didn’t get to go inside the gate with me, of course; he waited in his stroller while I took all the photos. And we didn’t see his friend Romeo this time, either…but it was amazing to go inside the cats’ territory and see them up close.

Aby-a-Day – October 7: Working on last week

I’m still working on the photos I took at last week’s cat show; I took over a thousand on Sunday with my new Sony DSLT.

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But in the meantime, here are a few shots from the show.

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There was a lovely Somali girl at the show. Her name is Kimbelot’s Kayla of Ameusin, and she’s related to Toby, the Somali male we met last year.

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Isn’t she sweet?

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Kylie was in the show, too, on Saturday.

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There were 13 cats entered in the HHP class, and Kylie made every final.

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This show used recycled ribbons for the HHPs, which was fun. Each rosette was different and unique. Kylie won one that was pink and white, which was so perfect for her.

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I absolutely fell in love with this handsome cream gentleman. His name is Bijouxcats Buttercream of Jamis, and he’s a spectacular European Burmese.

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Tessie, an Asian. is a European Burmese with the smoke gene. She has Bijouxcats in her pedigree. And Butters is also related to Little Dewey, the kitten we met in Baltimore.

And, last but certainly not least…

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Jake and I posing with judge Kathy Calhoun and his first rosette of the day.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Jacoby in the October Issue of YourCat Magazine

Back in July, the following email was forwarded on one of my Aby mailing lists:

Good morning
I am writing a feature for Your Cat magazine to promote your breed and wondered if you could complete the following asap please:

What I love about the breed is….
The most interesting thing about the breed is….
I keep my cats entertained ..
I keep my cat/s in tip top condition by…
My top tip to a potential owner is…
The most challenging aspect about keeping this breed is…
If you have this breed you must have….
Any further comments/tips for anyone thinking of buying a cat ….
Other breeds that are compatible are…

Many thanks,
Angie

Of course, I responded with answers about Abyssinians:

Hello Angie
I got your Aby questionnaire through an Aby email list I’m a member of. I also do a blog about Abys and couldn’t NOT answer your questions!
Hope this is useful:

What I love about Abyssinians is…they’re so interactive! I can’t do anything without my Aby, Jacoby, “helping” me. He also always sleeps on the bed with me, touching me in some way. They’re also so loyal and protective; Jake will hear someone outside the door and growl as he runs up to see what’s going on.

The most interesting thing about Abyssinians is…they’re the oldest breed of cat not started by a genetic mutation (long hair, short/no tail, thermo-retrictive semi-albinism, and the oldest breed bred on purpose by humans and documented. This, I believe, is why they’re more attuned to people and more “dog-like” – they’ve simply been bred for this sort of personality longer than other types of cats.

I keep my cat/s entertained…by walking into the room. Abys love laserpointers, and they love playing fetch. But the thing they most love to do is assist you with whatever YOU are doing!

I keep my cat/s in tip top condition by…proper diet and outings on the leash in nice weather. Plenty of water available in spots away from the feeding area, and tooth brushing and grooming to keep their fur glossy.

My top tip to a potential Aby owner is…remember that they’re very active and want to be involved in absolutely everything you do! These are not decorative cats, these are cats of action! Read up on Abys as much as you can – Your Cat has some lovely articles, and there are several Aby-specific websites and blogs with lots of real stories about real Abys. Yes, they really do do all those things!

The most challenging aspect about keeping Abys is…Well, they ALWAYS want to help you. Always. Especially if you’re making their food. Or other cats’ food. Or any other animals’ food. Or pretty much any food at all. They will steal whatever they can. Jake stole broccoli out of a Chinese takeaway we left unattended thinking that there was only broccoli, it should be safe.

If you have Abyssinians, you must have…patience, a sense of humour (they have both, so you’ll need it, too) and the ability to live with a cat that wants to be with you all the time.

Any further comments/tips for anyone thinking of buying a cat …with cats, much of the time, I’ve found they live up to your expectations. If you expect to have a cat who’s antisocial, nervous, hides when people come over, will only eat one brand of food and won’t let you clip claws or brush teeth, well, then that’s what you’ll have. But if you expect your cat to know some basic words (we have to spell “c-a-n” in our house), to understand what not to do and what’s okay, and be a member of your family rather than just an accessory or a decoration, that’s what you’ll have.

I’ve seen it with my dad’s cats and my cats. I raised his Scottish Fold kitten for several weeks before he could take him, and he was well on track for becoming an extroverted, leash-trained, fearless cat. But after he’d been with my dad for a while, he sort of “shut down,” and became the sort of cat who hides and doesn’t like strangers, doesn’t like to go outside EVER, hisses if you try to pet him…in short, the poor kitten grew into the cat that my dad always complains about! But because that’s all he ever expected of the kitten, that’s what the kitten became.

People always, always ask why my cats are so great, why they’re so friendly, relaxed and outgoing even at the vet, playful into old age, smart, etc. and I tell them it’s because that’s the sort of cat I wanted.

Other breeds that are compatible with Abys are…Burmese and Siamese work well, I’ve found. But they seem to get along with all breeds of cats…and dogs!

I was surprised to receive the following reply to my response:

Thanks so much for your email. Having looked at your blog, Jacoby is amazing! Can you please tell me a little more about you and him, his personality, places you have been, how he and other people react etc, and send me some hi res photos of you two out & about. I’d love to feature you both in the ‘at home with’ section of the article.

I wrote back to Angie immediately, of course, and after a few days’ correspondence, Angela and her editor created a two-page feature in the October issue of Your Cat, which was also going to feature a spotlight on the Abyssinian breed!

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And look! There’s a photo of Jake in Boston Common on the cover!

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The feature itself is amazing – they used so many great photos of Jake, and they even mention my blog. It’s amazing; Your Cat calls itself “Britain’s Largest Cat Magazine,” and it’s distributed all over Europe. It’s also available in Canada and the States at bookstores that carry foreign magazines. Soon, Jacoby is going to meet a lot of new people!

Aby-a-Day – May 26: Nobody wants to see vacation photos

I’m actually in Florida right now. As a matter of fact, I did go to a cat show in Orlando today and met up with my friend Molly…but if you can believe it, there were NO ABYSSINIANS entered in the show! None at all! The entire Shorthair Premier class was only about 10 cats! It was crazy.

Still, there were some great cats. The Championship class had both a Cornish Rex and a Devon Rex in one final, and they were caged right next to each other so you could really see the difference between the two breeds. There were also two solid white Maine Coons, a male and a female, who pretty much made my argument for Kylie being a shorthaired Maine Coon and not, say, descended from American Shorthairs. I took a lot of photos with my new camera…but I haven’t had time to go through them yet.

So, here are some action shots of Angel, jumping…

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…and scratching.

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These were practice shots using the flash and the diffuser I got. As a side note, Richard Katris aka Chanan was at this show, and I actually had time to to chat with him a bit. He looked at my camera and asked me about the viewfinder; I told him it was brand-new and handed it to him to see for himself. He actually gave me some pointers on how to test the viewfinder/flash for lag! I’ve met Richard a few times, now, and I’m starting to get over my fangirlishness to an extent, but I’m sorry: Having Chanan give you cat photography advice is kind of like having Leonardo Da Vinci give you lessons on brushstrokes.

Aby-a-Day – March 5: “He loves going wherever trains are at” (Hipstamatic Monday)

Jacoby loves to ride the train. He’s been on the Commuter Rail a few times; we’ve gone to Mansfield and Providence for shows, and we’ve also met my husband in Natick for other trips. We also took a daytrip to Gloucester just for fun.

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He doesn’t like to be in his carrier, though.

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He wants to sit on a seat like everyone else.

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And he does sit so nicely, too. Sometimes he looks out the window, and he’s always interested in the train’s stoppings and startings.

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On the train home from Providence, we met the cutest little boy. He asked how old Jake was, and when I said he was almost three, the boy proudly told me he was four.

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He meowed to Jake, and he also took his photo with his mom’s phone.

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Of course, Jake posed for him! I told the little boy that I started taking photos when I was exactly his age, four years old, and I mostly took pictures of cats even then. And, I continued, I still take lots of photos, so he was starting on a long and happy hobby. I thought it was cool he wanted to take pictures of Jake. They weren’t bad, either. Kid’s got a good eye.

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I think it’s awesome that the MBTA allows pets on the trains, both the T and the Commuter Rail. It makes life so much easier. I wish Amtrak would allow pets, too. I would probably take it a lot more often if they did, since taking trains with a cat is so much easier than flying these days.

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And Jake really does enjoy it.

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He is truly the King of the Rails!

Other People’s Abys – 4 Abys in Italy

Abyfriend Kelli turned me onto these fabulous Abyssinians on Flickr: 4 Abys.

Unfortunately, their Flickr settings don’t allow me to share any of their photos directly on my blog, but there are some awesome shots. Check them out!

Other People’s Abys – How cute is this?

This is actually two kittens from two different litters, elmourAbita EasyDreamer (16 weeks) and elmourAbita FineLine (7 weeks), bred by elmourAbita cattery in Germany. There are a lot of wonderful Abyssinian photos on their website, including the above and this rather amusing one of the Aby herd out grazing…

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Holiday Shopping Alert! Abyssinians on eBay

Last year, I posted about an eBay seller who had some amazing 1950’s photos of Abyssinians for sale. This morning, the seller, AberdeenSD, sent me an email alerting me that they’d just listed more photos of Abys and Siamese taken by the same photographer, Kenneth Heilbron.

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All of the listings are here; there are some super-cute photos of Aby kittens playing on a toy horse that, even if you don’t bid on them, are so adorable. But if you do want to bid on these, you’ll have to hurry – the auctions end tomorrow!

*cough*Please-don’t-bid-on-the-Mama-&-kitten-or-the-bowl-of-kittens-though*cough*

Aby-a-Day – October 31: A master at work (Hipstamatic Monday)

Meg had Chanan photograph her red girl, GRC Anubis Kuki Airani, at the show, and I was lucky enough to be around to watch him work.

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Knowing I’d want to make a post about meeting the famous Chanan in person as soon as I could, I took photos of their session with my Hipstamatic.

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It was really great to meet Richard, and he has some amazing stories to tell.

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He seems to not only love his work, but he obviously has a lot of fun doing it.

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He’s a one-man show, using only a hand-held Canon DSLR in one hand and a long wand cat toy in the other.

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He has a large collection of long dowels with different types of toys on the end; he said that there’s always a tip that some cat will go for.

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You have to be really alert while watching him ply a cat with one of the sticks; when he flicks the stick back, anyone in the “danger zone” is at risk of being clobbered in the face.

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The man is a serious cat whisperer. That was the best thing about watching him work.

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He works in a semi-enclosed space, and the cats could easily jump off the table and escape under the curtain or through the open side…but they don’t.

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Jacoby was really cranky this weekend (a male cat peed somewhere in the show hall and it set him off), but Richard managed to calm him down, and he got some amazing shots.

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He even took a couple of me and Jake together in costume, and yes, my inner 7th grader was flailing around in a major squee the whole time I was posing. I mean, not only was I having one of my cats photographed by Chanan…but he was photographing me, too!

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You may notice that Richard wears knee pads while he’s working.

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Those aren’t to save his knees, he explained.

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He wears them, he said, because his wife was tired of him coming home with holes in the knees of his pants. “She said, ‘you’re not a six year old! You shouldn’t be wearing out the knees of your pants like that!'” he told me.

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I only wish I had not been so shy the first day of the show; I didn’t approach him til towards the end of the first day.

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He was also set up at the opposite end of the show hall from where we were benched, so it was hard to spend a lot of time watching and talking to him while he worked.

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But you know how when you meet someone you’re a fan of, and you’re a little afraid they won’t live up to this image you’ve created of them in your head?

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Well, that didn’t happen here, and I think that’s the best part of the weekend, to be honest.

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Incidentally, this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured a photo of Richard working with a Sphynx in Santa Monica. Considering he was in striking distance of Manhattan the same weekend it was published, it’s a pretty amazing coincidence.