I used to teach a class in beginning digital photography. One of the few standing rules in my class was “no damn cats” were allowed as assignment subjects. Beyond that I had few rules and even the “no damn cats” rule was not created because I disliked cats, per se. It’s just that I noticed my students when faced with last minute assignment deadlines would too often resort to photographing their pets, usually cats, as an easy out.
Given an assignment to make a portrait in available light, for example, some students would invariably wait until the day before class, hunt down poor Bootsie, scoop him up, stick him near a window, rattle off a few frames and call it a day. “Fish in a barrel” we used to call it at the newspaper. You can do it blindfolded with one arm duct-taped behind you. I was really hoping for a little more effort than that, guys. Thus, the “no damn cats” rule. And so it was.
Plus, as much as I’ve always hated those coffee table books where they stuff “cute” little mutant-faced, over-bred kittens into containers that are two sizes too small, giving them valium so they look like they’re asleep or worse…cooperative, at least, through the creepiness, most of the images were well lit, sharply focused where they need to be and generally well executed photographs. So I guess the other part of the “no damn cats” rule was that the cat pictures the students turned in were mainly bad cat pictures, and the only thing worse than a picture of Bootsie is a bad picture of Bootsie.
And besides, I’m the teacher and you’re not and I’m not teaching a class on domestic animal photography! I’m an artist, a journalist, a very fussy and creative person. No damn cats!
And furthermore…when I’m King, there will no photography of animals in costumes, period or otherwise, or stuffed into hats or super-glued into comprimising poses. What you do with your Pomeranian on your own time is none of my business but just because you can buy a Dolly Parton costume that fits it, doesn’t mean you should.
So enough back story. I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m going with this? First, if any of my former students are reading this you may NOT contact me at home, by phone or in public.
Here’s the deal. I have two cats. Yes, two, relatively recently acquired cats. And I made a picture of them. Actually I’ve made lots of pictures of them. There’s one attached to this post just below. And I think it’s a damn good picture, as cat pictures go. Why? Because my cats are special. They’re more attractive than your cats. And smarter. The vet even said so. So yes, I know it’s a picture of “damn cats”. And I know the rule. So why can I break it but you can’t? Because I’m the teacher and you’re not.