Irritating Cats: A Handbook

Cats and How I Photograph ThemCats: and How I Photograph Them

Submitter: I am guessing by the sheer amount of cat books at my local library that a library can never have enough cute cat books. With that said, I am not sure this is a keeper. Here is an old how-to book on photographing cats with creepy black and white photos. As we have all seen, the world is full of YouTube videos of cute cats. This book won’t help with that. There is nothing here about digital photography. Couldn’t they at least put a cute cat on the cover?

Holly: Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh, man. Every cat in this book looks suuuuper pissed. To remind you that they are not all demon beasts, here’s a nice YouTube video of a the cutest kitten on the ‘net. And yes, please weed photography books with copyright dates in the 50s. (And 60s. And 70s. And 80s. And probably the 90s and possibly the 00s. You’ve got some work to do.)

Cat in a tree

Meet the Cats

Copy, Mittens, and Jigger

Siamese cat

Siamese cat

The Tomcat's Song


  1. Jigger is kind of cute–in a very distrustful way. . . Maybe this photographer wanted action shots, or cats just really hate this person. I have to say that, personally, I hate that wretched poem for the tomcat. I think I will go weed.

    1. Yes, there is an explanation, on page 19. It says that she was identical in appearance to her mother. But then it goes on to say that she was spayed because she had life-threatening difficulties giving birth to a litter. So all these cats are not neutered as a matter of course? Obsolescence of the photography advice aside, that attitude is very much out of date. So I vote for weeding, although I do agree with the comment below that one should be careful whose old books you are tossing. Finally, as far as cat pictures go, is it possible to take bad kitty pix LOL? Do people even need books like this to tell them how?

      1. I recently heard about the theory that the spay/neuter program has worked so well, that we are breeding domestication right out of our cats.(See the book Cat Sense.) I support the spay/neuter program, but it is an interesting thing to think about–that we are limiting the breeding of the friendlier cats so that the new kittens are coming from the feral animals. But I don’t think that whether the animals in the book were spayed/neutered should really impact the selection decision, since it’s a photography book that includes “bios” of the subjects.
        I do think this book should go, unless the library is where the guy lives–it looks like more of a vanity project than a useful animal photography book, and with all the updates to camera equipment and techniques, it’s really not a keeper. Especially without color photos.

  2. I have two kitties who are definite proof that cats are not demons nor are they evil. Although these photos look almost like the “Bad Cat” calendars I’ve seen, but without the amusing captions. They have “Bad Dog” calendars too.

  3. I’d be careful about weeding photography books based purely on the copyright date. Even a bad Cecil Beaton or Frances Johnston is still good art. While digital photographs, inasmuch as they need no developing, have proliferated the number of pictures we take, and computer programs make darkroom techniques easier for everyone; nevertheless, cropping can only go so far in making up for poor composition, and even the best technology can’t reverse a photographic lobotomy. State-of-the-art electronics may make our photographs look good, but they don’t make us good photographers. (Written as someone who has to take fifty photos to obtain even one he’d have the temerity to consider posting.)

    1. The general argument makes sense, but I get the impression this is neither a very good how-to guide nor in high demand for the artistic value of its photos. Keep an old Beaton or Johnston or Adams, but don’t keep this thing.

  4. From about the author: “Dr. Joseph Spies, a retired biochemist, now devotes his time to photographing animals – in captivity and in the wild. He enjoys writing about animals and in addition to this, he has authored three previous books on cats and ponies. His beautiful photographs have won many contests, including the prestigious Eastman Kodak International Contest. His photographs have appeared in such magazines as NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and PARADE. Dr. Spies has exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., along with several other galleries.” But I still don’t think this puts him in the same category as Adams or Evans. Photography, especially amateur photography, has moved on.

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