I can talk about storytelling until I'm blue in the face. I can talk about how wonderful it is to use emotions as starting points, and how symbolism is my bread and butter, and the difference of using it with people and using it for a fine art photograph. Storytelling is the main part of photography, so obviously it's important that you're able to do more than just take a good picture. You have to be able to look at that picture and know something. Like a secret that's for everyone to see.
But what if you take away the people? What if all you have is cats?
For this blog post I wanted to see if I could follow my cat Bliss around for an entire day and get photos that would show her personality, habits, and generally what it's like to live a day of Bliss. Seems easy!
No. It's a cat, and my cats can go from totally loving creatures to spiteful little demons in the span of an hour. So why would it be easy?
Funny side-note, one time I got woken up by something shattering in the kitchen. I rushed out of my room and lo and behold, it was one of my cats, Cosmo. He had pushed the dry food bowl off of the counter and onto the ground... because it was empty. Yet, this same cat will sit on my moms lap for hours in the evening being a purring machine.
Anywho, on with following Bliss.
Bliss is the mamma of our other three cats. I truly, truly believe that this gives her a superiority complex. She walks around and will swat her kids if they get too close to her, completely unprovoked. However, she's also so incredibly sweet and one of our most normal cats. Since she's the oldest, that's why I picked her to follow. Easy enough.
These two photos were taken hours apart from each other. She didn't move from this box almost all day. I didn't even know she got in this box so frequently!
The box that she's in is something that my parents built. They're built in benches for our kitchen table, and each one is basically a storage chest. They decided to keep the one on the end empty and let the cats use it as a little cat house.
I decided to include the outside, because even if she wouldn't come out of the box I thought it was important to show where she was. She was utilizing this space where she felt comfortable, and that was adorable. She may not have wanted to come out, but dang it I made it interesting anyway. And the outside had meaning and story! So who got the last laugh here, Bliss!? (It was her.)
Every 45 minutes, an alarm would go off on my phone for me to get up and check on Bliss and take some photos of her. After the third one, I realized I had to expand my subjects to her children. She would not get out of the box. She had no intention on being interesting because she knew she was already interesting enough. (Of course, I don't know this, but this is what I assume.)
This is Cosmo, the bowl breaker. This is his spot on the couch. He sits here for 70% of the day waiting for food or treats in the easily accessible kitchen, then waiting for my mom to sit on the couch to trap her with his cuddles. He's a trouble maker. The first photo of him yawning is how I think he feels on the inside. Wild, untamable, but (as seen in the second photo) just not interested in the effort.
This is Spooky. He's the definition of a scaredy-cat, he yells outside of closed doors if he wants in, and he will bite your hand if you stop rubbing his belly any earlier than he wants. There isn't an incredible amount of story in this photo, but I wanted to introduce him. Look at his perfect little face.
This is Freckles, and I think that this photo describes her perfectly. She's moody. She only wants attention and love when she is demanding it. She has the cutest little legs that are just a little too short for her body. In the summer, she waits by the window when the sun goes down and waits for geckos to crawl on the screen. She loves watching birds. I love her.
Those are the new recruits. In order for this blog post to go anywhere besides just fifteen photos of Bliss in her little cat house, they were needed.
After the forth or fifth alarm went off on my phone and all of the cats had the audacity of not doing anything at all, I took matters into my own hands with treat time.
This is where I started struggling. Maybe I had too much faith in my cats to do more than just be cats, but I felt like these photos weren't anything more than an excuse to take photos of my freakin' cats! However, I think that's when you have to start looking for the personality in what you've already captured.
Looking at this photo without the self-doubt-devil on my shoulder, I do see a story. Freckles is territorial to the point that she tries to cover her wet food with imaginary dirt after she's done eating. I can see her being that same way here. Checking behind her shoulder so she knows that there's no one trying to get her third!
When my alarm went off next, all of the cats were tucked away in their own nooks. Spooky was in one right by my moms desk. He sleeps here for hours in this basket that he's just a little too big for him!
Spooky is one of our biggest cats, if not the biggest. He's long and tall! With his tail straightened out, I'd guess that he would be two feet long. He has such a majestic air about him that he doesn't even own. He runs from anyone with shoes on!
He does the same thing that he's doing here but in my room, where he will hide under a small makeup table where his tail will stick out almost an entire foot. He loves being snuggled up in places that he's just a little too big for. I don't know why he does, but it's one of my favorite things about him.
The next time it went off, I found Freckles by one of our outdoor windows patiently waiting for any of her friends to fly on by. That blue bird hanging is a bird feeder and she'll sit here and wait until she sees any kind of wildlife come by. Birds, squirrels, insects, she loves them all. It's cute until you realize that she wants to kill them.
I went out to go help with dinner and brought my camera with me. I thought, "Anything they're doing, I'll shoot it."
I walked out of my bedroom and saw Bliss doing another one of her weird little things. I call it her being a gargoyle. She will post up like this at the very beginning of the hallway, or even right outside doors. She's waiting for someone to pass by, or to open a door, to rub herself on ankles and lead you right to the pantry doors, where the almighty treats are. If you'll notice, she missed the treats earlier so she probably feels entitled.
After I ate dinner, it was time for them to eat dinner. I knew more than likely that after they ate it would be the end of our day together. Like most domestic, living things, after dinner is simply more chill time. For them, obviously, but for me too. I check out after dinner and hang up my hat.
I had to wonder if I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. Did I do them justice? Did their personalities shine through? If a stranger saw these photos, would they get an essence of who these cats are?
I don't know!
Storytelling is subjective. If your mind is open to seeing a story, you create one and see anything you want. If nothing else, I hope that I showed the true love that I feel for these little animals. If I can ask for anything else, it would be that something shined through, or at the very least that they made you smile and feel something.
Talk to you soon. Spread love. xoxo