New Year’s celebrations often include watching fireworks or singing songs and enjoying meals that invite good luck for the coming year. In some parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature vegetables that resemble coins to bring future financial success such as lentils in Italy or black-eyed peas in the southern United States or grapes in Spain. Yes I know they’re a fruit not a vegetable! Ring-shaped cakes are popular in some areas of Europe as a sign that the year has come full circle and it is traditional in Sweden and Norway to serve rice pudding with an almond hidden inside. It is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune (which they will need to pay for the dentist bills)! My John knows all about dentist bills because he had to spend a few hundred quid last year on me at the vets. I had a bad case of gum disease but I’m fine now and although I’m missing a few teeth, I could easily get my mouth around a bowl of rice pudding (preferably without the nut)! That won’t happen though because us cats are not supposed to have dairy; it tastes yummy but our digestive systems are not designed to handle it.
This weekend John went over to see a friend of his and took me with him so I could hang out with some of my mates. It was a clear crisp sunny morning and while the humans were indoors chatting over coffee, my buddies and I sat in the garden discussing our New Year’s resolutions. My friend Muffin is a 5 year old black girl who I’ve known since she was knee-high to grass-hopper and her resolution for 2015 is to continue her birdwatching hobby. She has her own set of binoculars and a bird book and is getting so knowledgeable about British garden birds that she would probably do well on Mastermind. The only problem is that Magnus Magnusson probably wouldn’t understand her answers!
The practice of making resolutions is said to have originated from the ancient Babylonians who made promises to their gods in order to earn favour such as vowing to pay off debts or return borrowed farm equipment. So my good pal Ginger promised to return my Cats and Dogs in 3D on Blu-Ray that he borrowed from me last Christmas. Ginger’s brother Basil (the chunky black and white 4 year old in the picture) assured his owner that he would keep the neighbours happy but curtailing his naughty behaviour. Basil is often given to bouts of mischief including skidding down the neighbour’s conservatory, stalking the pigeons and chasing butterflies off the fence.
Tiffin (Muffin’s sister) is another black cat with sleek shiny fur like mine and she is calm and reserved. Her New Year’s resolution is to lose some weight because she (also like me) is a bit on the cuddly side and needs to improve her waistline. Unlike the slender and agile Zoukia (the black and white 2 year old with 3 paws) who resolved this year to beat his high-jump record which currently stands at 31 inches from the ground. Here he is getting some practice on the grass today while his owner flicked a feather toy around.
My New Year’s resolution is to build the business and develop Shadow Photography’s portfolio by doing more wedding shoots and bagging the best wildlife shot I’ve ever done. The business is very important to John and me because we love the art of photography and enjoy expressing ourselves through this medium. That’s why I write this blog and share my photos with you and that’s why John dedicates a huge amount of his time trekking around in search of opportunities to capture events and subjects of interest. John and I thank you for your continued support and best wishes to everyone for 2015.
This is a moment for celebration and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you lovely readers for your commitment and interest in Shad the Cat’s blog. The reason for celebration is that I’ve had 10,000 views. I love sharing my escapades and reflections with you and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading about them. I do have a tendency to contemplate life and sometimes it’s hard for me as a cat to live in a world I don’t always understand. But I try not to grumble too much despite all the crazy and often unkind things that go on in this beautiful world. I hope to continue spreading a little smile across all your faces in the months to come and give you a few insights into the unique requirements of the feline variety, as well as some other of my other furry, scaly and prickly friends from the animal kingdom.
My stomach had been churning all morning to the point where I couldn’t eat, and regular readers will know that it’s not like me to go off my food! But my nerves disappeared the moment John drove up the long winding driveway and my eyes came to rest on the emerald green and sunshine yellow fields of grass and daffodils spreading all around us. The meadows were framed with trees of all shapes and sizes and at the top of the drive stood the Rookesbury Park School, a former stately home hidden in the Hampshire countryside. A cat could live an excellent life in a place like this, far away from the hustle and bustle, the dangers of busy roads and angry humans who don’t have the time or the inclination to appreciate the complex behaviours of the feline species. Lucky for me, I’m surrounded by kind-hearted humans who understand my need to rub legs, scratch sofas, nip toes, lick plates, sniff floors and purr manically when my neck is caressed or my fur is fondled.
John pulled up outside the house and started emptying the car of all the camera equipment while I bounced over to the edge of the field and gazed contentedly across the landscape. I started to picture myself running in slow motion to the sound of Chariots of Fire, leaping majestically with my paws outstretched like Marty the Zebra and Alex the Lion running towards each other on the beach in the movie Madagascar. But I couldn’t spend all day dreaming of frolicking in the prairie, I had work to do! The model was dressed in her bridal gown and the hairdresser was providing a few finishing touches as the glorious spring sun smiled down upon us. The wedding car was in position and lenses, tripods, flashguns and quantum cables were set up and ready to go. The photographers were John, myself and John’s daughter Natasha who kept making me laugh. She knows full well that my belly wobbles when I chuckle and it’s hard to keep the camera still!!
We worked hard for over 3 hours, perspiring in the heat and getting stiff muscles and trigger finger (or trigger paw in my case) from holding awkward positions and the multiple button-clicking involved, but it was worth every moment. It was a great opportunity to support the model and the hair-stylist who are both at the beginning of their careers and appreciated having some pro shots for their portfolios so my thanks go to them for their skill and endurance. Thanks also to Brides of Sussex in Bognor Regis for the loan of the gown, and Nathan at BB Executive Travel in Bognor Regis for his posh car and ribbons and his upbeat style. Thanks also to Natasha for her patience, jokes and comical body movements that kept everyone amused. Well it kept me amused anyway, although as John knows, I’m easily pleased!
While some couples encourage their friends and family to snap as many photos as possible throughout the day (they’re even signing up for apps that make it easier to compile everyone’s photos in one place!), others are asking their guests to shut off their camera phones for the day. There are strong arguments on both sides — there’s something so special about seeing your wedding day unfold from your guests’ perspectives, but photographers have noted that “guest photographers” often compromise your professional pictures. Photographer Corey Ann, an international award-winning photographer based in Northeast Ohio, shares why you might want to ask your guests to put aside their cameras for the night.
Its not all fun and games for the team here at Shadow Photography. We do have to work from time to time! And although John and I enjoy our work, we worked hard to earn our pennies at the weekend with a wedding shoot on a particularly hot day in 3 venues – the church, the woods and the evening reception.
We were lucky enough to have a really good assistant (John’s daughter who is also a photographer) to help us and we managed to pull it off without a hitch! It was a beautiful traditional wedding and once the bride has approved the shots I will share some with you..
Events became more relaxed as the day progressed and the bride and groom looked stylish and happy throughout. We were invited to take part in the hog-roast dinner which was delicious and finished the day off perfectly.