Today’s guest on Caturday Chat is a 22-year-young photographer from The Netherlands whose beautifully lit portraits of cats have caught the world’s attention. Hers are the kind of kitty pictures that will amaze and inspire you, and leave you a happy soul.
Felicity Berkleef grew up enjoying the outdoors Flevoland, a province of the Central Netherlands and developed an interest in photography when she was 17. Her series Cats in front of the window drew admiration from fellow photographers on Flickr while her latest series with her own tabby cat Tommie unexpectedly went viral.
Human Writes talked to Felicity about her work and creative process for the #CaturdayChat series [which is getting quite a lot of love from readers, thank you].
“I started studying Graphic Design five years ago. The main reason I took the subject in college was because it included photography. When we didn’t get photography, I decided to save some money. In December 2012, I bought my first DSLR camera [Canon EOS 1100D]. After that, I fell in love with photography,” she told me.
Cats became her favourite muses. The love is evident. “In the beginning, my interest was in a lot of subjects like nature, architecture, street, portrait, families and people. As the months went by, I focused more on cat photography,” she said.
I have two cats on my own and a lot of cats living in my neighbourhood. They have such funny personalities and expressions that I have to capture them on camera.
Photography has helped Felicity deal with a hard time in high school. She opens up about those dark days: “I was bullied a lot, didn’t have many friends and my mom got very sick twice. The first time, she had breast cancer and the second time she had pancreatitis. Due to all these things, I didn’t manage to graduate high school.” Things started looking up in her first year of college. “My mom got a lot better, I had more friends, more confidence and photography as my hobby,” said.
Her cats Nero and Tommie are her favourites to photograph. She added, “They couldn’t be more different from each other,” she said.
Nero is a ginger/white cat and is 12 years old. “He loves people and is very calm. He hardly gets into trouble. I personally prefer to photograph him indoors. He is a very sweet cat at home, but his attitude changes immediately when he is outside. Tommie is a tabby cat and is 5. He loves to get in trouble and loves food. He is not very amused with other people, except for me [wink]. His attitude is the same indoors and outdoors and he loves food. I prefer to photograph him outdoors, because he can sit still for minutes. I did a series with him, where I put him on a bench and wrapped a blanket around him. It went viral, which I did not expect at all.”
How did she develop the knack of clicking cats in their natural surroundings?
“With lots and lots of patience, but also with a few cat treats! The moment they’re eating, I grab my camera… sometimes lay on the ground to get to their level,” she said.
Of course it doesn’t always work. When that happens, I don’t really get so frustrated, because cats aren’t the easiest subjects to photograph. I just try relax and know (in my mind) that next time it will be better.
What really irks her is theft of her original pictures. This explains the watermarks on all the pictures in this interview. She said, “People don’t think about the work that’s going into the pictures while using them without permission, credit or reimbursement.”
Felicity wants to go pro once out of college (no surprise, that). She told me, “I don’t know if I will make a full-time or part-time career out of it, but I do know that I want to be a professional photographer.”
Amen to that!
Enjoy some more photo essays and photographers from other popular bloggers on WordPress:
- Tanwir Jogi – The Indahs
- Finding happiness on the internet as a photographer – Dan Jurak
- Spring Outings – North Central Victoria – Julie Powell
- The fabulous life of a working photographer – Olaf
- Paris: A photo essay
- Kyoto – A photo essay – Ryan C
- Asturias beaches – Lalitha Raghavan