“Walter chandoha the cat photographer” “Pioneer”, “king”, “godfather” of cat photography … Walter George Chandoha, a talented photographer who has taken more than 90 thousand pictures of meowing models during his career, has been deservedly awarded such titles. His work has appeared on the pages of Life and National Geographic magazines, in books and even on packaging for cat food.
Walter developed a passion for photography in his early years. At first he was a member of a photo club, where he acquired the skills of developing film and printing pictures. After graduating from Chandoha school, he worked as an assistant illustrator, and during the war – a photojournalist. Fate was preparing a big surprise for him, which was supposed to completely change his life.
How Walter Chandoha the cat photographer became a photographer ? How it all began ?
A career as a feline photographer began with a simple incident in the distant 1940s, when Walter, while still a young student, picked up a stray kitten. It happened in winter, in a terrible cold, and Chandoha could not walk past the frozen animal. He put the kitten in the pocket of his coat and took it home. Having come to his senses, the baby began to briskly run around the apartment, play with reflection, fight with the shadows on the floor. For his restless nature, he was nicknamed Loko. By the way, this nickname was given to the kitten by the photographer’s wife. Seeing how the kid frolics and plays, she delightedly told her husband: “He’s just a locomotive!”
At some point, Walter became interested in photographing his furry roommate. He was impressed with the results, so one can judge that a stray kitten that accidentally caught his eye became a real muse. A little later, these pictures appeared on the pages
Walter Chandoha the cat photographer – Career heyday
Among Walter’s works were photographs of fruits, flowers, horses, dogs. He did not neglect the street scenes in New York. But the fame of a feline photographer was fixed to him. Pictures of furry pets have been published in several hundred magazines.
Walter had a great love not only for photographs of cats, but also for the animals themselves. He regularly fed street cats. They became attached to him, met and saw off. But he could become a successful marketer, but the meeting with Loko changed everything radically: Walter chose the path of a freelance photographer, a narrow-profile specialist, whose heart entirely belonged to fluffy, purring models. Feline grace will captivate many, but in this case it became the impetus for the birth of masterpieces that make representatives of several generations admire.
Pictures of Chandoha cats were popular not only among advertising companies. They could also be seen on postcards, T-shirts, packs of pet food. Walter has published several books on his favorite topic: Walter Chandoha’s Book of Kittens and Cats (1963), How to Photograph Cats, Dogs and Other Animals (1973).
Walter’s work has proudly exhibited in museums. The photographer himself admitted that he likes to take pictures of cats, because these animals have an endless variety of poses. And he was also attracted by the many colors, cleanliness, silence, the variety of meows. Even the soft touch of the pets was an inspiration for Walter. The bulk of the photographer’s work is represented by black and white photographs. And only shortly before his death, Walter began to take color photographs.
The secret of mastery in love of animals
Walter’s shots are a combination of talent, skill and love for furry models. Walter did not limit himself in terms of ideas: in his photographs you can see studio portraits of well-groomed pets, street cats, reports from exhibitions. In the working arsenal of the photographer, there are even pictures where children pose for the camera in an embrace with cats. Black-and-white and color works cause great delight among those who consider them, even if these people are not crazy cat lovers.
In total, Chandoha devoted 70 years to cats. The great photographer did not live to see his centenary for two years. He departed to another world in January 2018, leaving behind voluminous collections that delight and tenderness people of all ages. His work went viral on social media. We can safely say that this man has elevated the pictures of furry models to the level of the highest art. These shots are imbued with love and generate the most pleasant feelings: they make you freeze in surprise, smile, admire the beauty of impeccable posing and expressions.