Monday, 11 April 2011

The French Cat

I had two dreams when I was a child, to be a National Geographic Photographer and to study film at the New York School of Visual Arts (SVA)…. So far I haven’t managed to achieve either of these dreams but there have been many stepping stones I have taken during my career that have given me just as much satisfaction and achievement as I would have if I had ventured down the path I had dreamed of at the grand age of 8 years!

I have to say, the latest assignment I have just completed, ‘The French Cat’ has been the most exciting and inspirational of my career so far, and probably has got me the closest to my dream of being a National Geographic Photographer as I’m possibly going to get!!! As much as I have loved working in studio type environments over the years creating my character portraits of animals and babies, it was the thrill of working with animals in their natural environment that has given me a new lease of life in my field. Travelling a hypnotically beautiful country with my adorable husband and daughter in tow has been an amazing experience; everyday I stepped out into an inspirational environment, there was not a corner I turned that didn’t frame a beautiful setting, and spending hours wandering, on the prowl for cats was a dream job for any animal and photography lover!

Some of the cats I photographed were residents of historic character filled French Châteaux, others were cats I befriended whilst roaming the ancient villages and country side; each one a true character, intrigued by the green feathers on a stick that constantly were drawn in and out of my back pocket, if they weren’t being held at the ready by my enthusiastic rapidly growing daughter. The biggest challenges I would say would have to have been the numerous times I had to practice my ‘tres mal’ French when asking the owners permission to photograph their cat…. I can actually string a few sentences together now though, so I think I have progressed from pigeon French to somewhere just above the basic level! Thankfully cats have a universal language, as long as I am calm, gentle and softly spoken, if I manage to get within a few feet of them, most cats tend to be putty in my hands after a few minutes. A lot of French cats are ‘trés timide’ and required a lot more patience on my part to be able to create the images I was wanting to illustrate the book, luckily, when it comes to my photography, patience seems to be something that I have a continuous supply of.

‘The French Cat’ is being released worldwide in October this year; along with being a collection of the images I have created of the endearing French felines I encountered during our 6 month journey, it also tells the story of our move to France and our experience discovering the beauty of our French surroundings.

Photographing at Montmartre Cimetére, Paris

Photographing in Pérouges, Rhône-Alpes

Andy and Charlize working the cat

Photographing at Château de Saint Loup, Saint Loup Lamairé, Poitou-Charentes


  1. Hello Rachael.
    I was looking to see when the book is being released and here I've found you.
    Hope life continues well in France for the three of you.
    We look forward very much to receiving our copy of the book in the enar future.

    Diane and Malcolm, Tortue, Pie and Samuel.

  2. Hi Rachael - You can hardly get into my house for books and I had a moratorium on buying more till I came across The French Cat yesterday and of course HAD to buy it! It is my favourite book of all time. (I adore cats and used to live in France, so you've combined two of my favourite things.)
    Congratulations on a superb piece of work! I'll put it on my blog and recommend it to all my friends.

  3. I forgot to say I live in Sydney, Australia, with my cat Muffy. So your book is reaching far and wide!

  4. France and cats... my two most favourite things. Thank you for creating such a beautiful book! We holidayed in France in late 2010 and we're reliving our travels through 'The French Cat'. The book was a Christmas gift from our youngest daughter... I love it!

  5. Rachael,
    I first heard about your book on My French Life. My Meeps and I entered the giveaway but alas, we didn't win. All was not lost, I received it for Christmas! As a lover of all things French, a Paris photoblogger, passionate photographer, and cat owner, I found your book absolutely stunning. I'm recommending it to all of my friends. I have a blog friend in Gorbio/Menton that boards dogs and I told her this morning that you two should meet for your next book!

    Your book will be treasured and reread many times.
    All the b est,

  6. Hi Rachel, I was looking Amazon for your book and found 2 options. Pls could you advise the difference between :


    Many thanks