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About Alan Robinson
Alan Robinson is amongst the most accomplished and recognised cat photographers in the world, and is both respected and revered for the incredible number of breeds he has captured, and for the breathtaking results he achieves with such challenging subjects and environments.
Alan spent a large part of his career working for associated companies of Kodak; and developed his interest and skills in photography with fashion, commercial and calendar work, until – in the early 1990s – he and wife Janet decided to embark on their own business venture, producing a range of photographic stationary.
Included in the product range were pedigree certificates, designed with images of the stud and queen incorporated. The certificates generated a tremendous amount of interest from breeders but very few sales. Alan and Janet soon realised why; breeders were unable to get a suitable image of their cats, so Alan and Janet set about photographing cats and kittens in a variety of different conditions and locations; primarily at cat shows.
As any animal photographer will testify, cats can be challenging subjects, due to their nature and free-spirited character. Combined with the chaotic atmosphere of the show environment, it made high quality work almost impossible to comprehend. Out of the madness though, there came inspiration and Alan devised an ingenious mobile tabletop studio to contain the cat, include a suitable background, and allow the subject to be lit correctly.
Alan and Janet unveiled their mobile studio at the Teesside Cat Club Show in 1992, and were immediately swamped with eager customers; Alan takes up the story: “Photography in the same area as the main hall was something no one had seen in the UK before.
To manipulate the cats and kittens in the unit we used different feathers, created sounds and shadows, and used other items to gain the cat’s interest; reading their moods, wooing and putting them at ease and of course adding the most important ingredients of all: endless patience and anticipation.
In 17 years of cat shows and close to 25,000 different cats we never lost one out of the cat studio, even though we were operating in a show halls with 1000’s of visitors milling about.”
It wasn’t just about performing on the day though, and both Alan and Janet were in constant conversation with breeders and owners, building a phenomenal amount of knowledge on producing the correct ‘look’ that each breed should display.
Great consideration was also given to background selection; choosing the right shade to complement both coat and eye colour: “It would be very easy to have a background that would warm up the colour of a cat’s coat or indeed change a rich vibrant eye colour into a lifeless dull version of it. We quickly got to know which backgrounds would compliment different breeds.”
The results – as can clearly be seen in Alan’s portfolio – are simply stunning, and despite the often chaotic surroundings, Alan and Janet manage to bring out the best in each and every subject, illustrating the personality and attributes of each breed perfectly.
Alan’s work has featured in countless specialist cat magazines, reference books, calendars and posters. As well as on a variety of product packaging and on television programmes. In 1997/8 he was the official photographer for the National Cat Club of Great Britain, and was awarded the Master Photographers Association “Pet Photographer of the Year” in 2000.
Alan and Janet live in North Yorkshire, and when not photographing cats in their own purpose built studio, run Breighton Cats Lodge; an award-winning cattery, with room for up to 60 guests – quite a handful, even for handlers as experienced as Alan and Janet
They also have seven cats of their own, including a Tiffanie, an Asian Smoke, a Burmilla and four moggies.