“Patience Is What You Need to Take Cat Pictures”

This is a good example of two completely different reactions to the photographer. One cat, although relaxed in body, is nervously troubled by the cameraman, camera, and lights. The other cat just hasn’t nerves – nothing matters except relaxation. Photo by Torkel Korling (1903-1998) – Black Star

“Pucko” was well named and well photographed by Thurman Rotan (1903–1991). Here Pucko’s imagination is running away with him; he has an idea he’s acting in a cat version of a screwball Bob Hope ghost movie.

Kitten looks as if it were enjoying its dreams – visions of chasing mice; not standard-size mice, but little not-too-fast ones. Photo by Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006).

Elizabeth Hibb’s cat agrees instinctively that the S-curve is the line of beauty.

This kitten is too new to the world – too far from its’ mother and terra firma. Photo by Essipeff-FPG

To this clown cat, back-rubbing pleasure is more important than dignity. Photo by Bernhard

Like puppies pretending to be full of the chew-’em-up-alive spirit, this young cat makes believe it’s back in the savage, jungle state. Photo by R.L. Doty – FPG


Ralph Steiner, “Patience Is What You Need to Take Cat Pictures,” PM Weekly, July 13, 1941, pp. 48-49 (photos by Thurman Rotan, Torkel Korling, Ruth Bernhard, and R.L. Doty, etc.)

PATIENCE Is What You Need to Take Cat Pictures

by Ralph Steiner

Cats are like children in that most people like them. Many people photograph them. They both are easy to photograph: they aren’t camera shy, and they assume an infinity of expressions and positions. There should be a wealth of good pictures of cats and children, yet there isn’t. It has taken a long time and a lot of searching to assemble the few good cat pictures you see here.

To make good photographs of cats the photographer does not have to be a great mind, a deep thinker, or a super-sensitive artist. He just has to be patient enough to wait until his subject is most expressive of some cat quality that appeals to him. Cats can be wise, foolish, elegant, awkward, playful, serious, tame, wild, social, independent, active, and passive. They can react like humans to a situation, and some of their expressions can resemble ours.

Cat photographers should use their own observation to add to this catalog of cat facets. They should then use it as a guide to more interesting and more cat-like pictures.


Hep Cats’ Ball, Louis Armstrong And His Orchestra; Louis Armstrong; Jack Palmer, 1940


Stop The War (The Cats Are Killin’ Themselves), Wingie Manone and his Orchestra; Wingie Manone; George Brunis; Joe Marsala; Mel Powell; Carmen Mastren; Al Morgan; Zutty Singleton, 1941


All the Cats Join In, Roy Eldridge And His Orchestra; Buster Harding; Eddie Sauter; Ray Gilbert; Alec Wilder, 1946

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