Twenty-two-year-old photographer Felicity Berkleef takes meow-nificently lit portraits of domestic and street cats in their natural environment. Her series “Cats in front of the window” has accumulated tons of views on Flickr, catching the attention and interest of many pet lovers and drawing very positive feedback from other fellow photographers.
Originally from Flevoland, a province of the Central Netherlands, Felicity grew up enjoying the outdoors. She was always curious of her surroundings and eager to observe and photograph every aspect of her life. It wasn’t until 2012, the year she started her graphic design studies, that she finally got her first DSLR camera and started to put her budding photographic skills to practice. “I used to take a lot of photos of different subjects: nature, people, street, families, architecture…” she said. “I started to focus more on cat photography two years ago.”
Her interest in animal photography started with Tommie and Nero, her two cats. “Nero is sweet, calm, and loves attention, but whenever he’s outside he becomes very different. He runs away when I get too close. It’s easier for me to photograph him indoors.”
“Tommie is a troublemaker and a bit more active than Nero. I prefer to photograph him outdoors because he follows me around.”
Felicity is especially talented at capturing the personalities of her feline models: their habits, quirks, and expressions. While many people argue their pet is the cutest on the internet and the world must know about them, Felicity backs up her cats’ cuteness with the skills she’s developed with her camera. She also knows all of the neighborhood cats by name and likes to walk along the alleys near her home to discover new perspectives and interesting angles to shoot, holding the camera low to the ground, for example.
“To get the results that I want, I get on their level. This means laying or sitting on the ground to also see the environment around them.” She pays special attention to the background, which she uses to create beautiful frames around her subjects with her Canon EOS 6D camera and 85mm lens. “There are at least eight cats living on my street, so there is always a chance that some of them will show up.”
The majority of her post-processing work is done in Camera RAW, adding some small adjustments on Photoshop for sharpening and color-grading.
“Most of the time I let cats do their own thing while taking photos.” Making noises and having cat treats also helps, but the most important piece of advice to become a successful cat photographer is patience, she describes. “Whenever I am impatient, they also get very impatient,” she explained. “Don’t force yourself, or them, to get good results. Let it happen naturally.”
Although every cat is different, they all have something in common: they won’t sit still for pictures.
“Mr. Jansen has no fear of anything or anyone, not even big dogs. He is my stalker. He is in my garden almost every day, sometimes on my roof.”
“Bruce [below] is very active because he is still young. He lets me pet him, but only for a few seconds. He also loves to grab my hands and feet. I need to be quick to take photos of him.”
“Taco is a goofy cat that doesn’t have very good balance. He falls almost every time he is on a fence.”
“Jojo is a very shy cat that runs away when he doesn’t get your attention. He loves to fight my cat. I don’t get too close when taking a photo of him unless he lets me.”
Cute cat photos make up some of the most viewed content on the Internet, and often the source of those images becomes unclear or gets overlooked. Felicity knows this reality very well because she’s had some bad experiences in the past with people stealing her work and posting it on their own profiles, which is why she recently decided to add watermarks and lower the resolution of the images she shares online. “Sometimes people forget that someone took that photo, or they just don’t think about the person behind the camera,” she said. “But while these things happen, I still enjoy doing cat photography, because it makes me and other people happy. ”
Do kitty cat photos make you happy? Do you have a particularly adorable cat and want to share a photo of it? Post a link in the comment section below! Explore more of Felicity’s cat photos on her felicefelines Flickr account, or, if you’re interested in discovering a more personal facet of her work, check out her all-purpose Flickr Photostream here.