Sometimes, a person and an animal can look so alike, you might just think they’ve got the same soul. Professional animal photographer Gerrard Gethings’ latest project involves pairing people up with their cat lookalikes. The resemblance is uncanny and the portraits are magical.
The hair, the looks, the colors—they’re all chosen to mimic the same energy. And Gethings has done it perfectly. Scroll on down, upvote your fave photos, and let us know in the comments which cat-human pair you loved the most and why, dear Pandas. While it would be wonderful if the people in the portraits were the felines’ owners, this isn’t the case. They’re actually models who were selected to match the photographed cats. It was a long casting process, but the results were definitely worth the effort! The photos have even been turned into a memory card game, ‘Do You Look Like Your Cat?’
"I had previously made a series of work based on people who look like dogs. It was received really well and I needed another project that I thought would be equally, if not even more engaging. Cats seemed the most accessible choice, but they are infinitely more difficult to photograph than dogs,” Gethings told Bored Panda in an interview. Read on to learn more about the photographer’s project, as well as the unique challenges that photographing cats (who seem to have an “evil sense of humor”) presented.
London-based photographer Gethings said that there are very few examples of cat-human matchmaking online, so his project felt like a real challenge. “It is also something that people will never have seen. It was really important for me to create something new.”
The photographer didn’t beat around the bush or give us a rosy version of events. He told us outright that everything about the project was difficult.
“Even finding cats with enough variation to keep the series interesting was difficult and I covered most of England to shoot them. Unlike the dogs, simply finding the cats wasn't enough, I then had to convince them to take part. On more than one occasion I drove for hours, set up my equipment, and then the cat refused to play ball. I simply had to pack up and go home feeling very deflated.”
These sorts of experiences taught Gethings that cats appeared to have an “evil sense of humor” and seemed to taunt the photographer. Working with them was far more taxing than working with dogs who are easier to handle.
“[The cats] would often sit beautifully on the posing table as I set up the lights and then, as soon as the camera came out they were off, never to be seen again. Another huge challenge was that cats don't have the same amount of facial expressions as dogs. They tend to look either startled, suspicious, or angry. They also don't react to food like dogs, who will do absolutely anything for a piece of cheese.”
He continued: “I had to use more physical clues in this series. Many of the cats would enjoy playing with toys which led to some great body shapes: the boxing cat and the dancing cat for example. The main difference between cats and dogs seems to be that dogs are very willing to please you. They are also greedy, which helps immensely. Cats on the other hand are quite suspicious of new things. They also have constant access to food, so are not driven by it in the same way dogs are.”
The photographer put it bluntly: “Cats needed to be tricked into taking part.” So if any of you Pandas are planning on following in Gethings’ footsteps, keep that in mind and start by taking photos of dogs. Taking snaps of good boys and girls is relatively easy; cats, the proud animals that they are, are a whole different challenge. Gethings truly has the patience and willpower of a saint.
Gethings wasn’t always the photographer we see today. He started out as a painter, studied fine art, and then got a studio in London, hoping to realize his dream of being an artist. However, Fate had other plans for him.
“I had some success and at the same time, started to work for celebrity portrait photographer Terry O'Neill. I worked for him for 10 years and it was transferring his studio techniques onto animal photography that really led me away from painting and into photography. I also love the immediacy. Painting takes months. Photographs are finished in a day and then there is the next project and the next. It's exciting.”
Do You Look Like Your Cat
Gethings also shared some of his professional insights that could help amateur animal photographers improve their craft. “I would say that it is necessary to be extremely patient to photograph animals. It is always tricky and the animals themselves will never show any interest in your work,” he pointed out the number one virtue for animal photographers.
He added that lighting is vital and that photographers need to learn to use them. “You need the right equipment and you need to know where to put it. Animals lose interest very quickly during a shoot so there is no time to keep readjusting. Practice on the family pet. This is the best way to get started,” he said.
Cats and dogs aren’t the only animals that Gethings has gotten in the crosshairs of his photographic lenses. He’s also photographed bumblebees, pigeons, cows, goat, and sheep. What’s more, the seasoned veteran has snapped photos of the pets of celebrities, such as Elle Macpherson.