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About Paul Kaye
Paul was introduced to photography by his father – also Paul – as a young boy. At that time, Paul senior worked mainly in advertising photography, but was later to become well-known in Fleet Street for his 'soft' animal images, which were published extensively in both national newspapers and magazines.
Paul junior started his working life in show business, while working with and learning from his father part-time. The partnership lasted 37 years until the death of Paul senior in 1987.
Having always had an affinity with creatures of all shapes and sizes, Paul chose to ignore the old theatrical adage: 'never work with children or animals' and began turning his had to animal photography.
The skills passed on from his father, coupled with his showbiz background, formed the perfect combination and gave Paul great insight into the type of images that strike a chord with the viewer and the commissioning editors, of course.
Paul's images capture the essence of what makes animals appealing to humans; cute, cuddly, affectionate, funny, surprising. They tell stories, they challenge stereotypes and conventions, they amuse... Each one really can tell a thousand words.
“With all the animal pictures I have taken, undoubtedly the 'aaah' factor has been the major selling point. For this reason I've concentrated largely on what I call 'unusual friends'; pictures of natural enemies enjoying each other's company: the cat sharing a saucer of milk with a mouse, the fox snuggling up with a duck, the boxer dog flirting with a piglet.”
Paul befriended pet shop owners, breeders, pet charities and anyone who had the faintest whiff of animal about them, to secure the right models. “For years I was supplied with models by my local RSPCA clinic. They would phone me whenever they had an interesting subject, and this worked very well, as the RSPCA was always featured in the story that went with the picture”
With Paul's subjects, it's about much more than simply looking the part too, with sworn enemies often nose to nose, both have to be of the right temperament.
Paul spent weeks at cat and dog shows, where as well as making contacts, he gleaned valuable information about various breeds and their characteristics; vital when dealing with such varying temperaments. He doesn't just restrict his work to domestic pets either, and has stood lens to eye with lions, tigers, gorillas, badgers, foxes and many others. To date, the only mishap being a bite form an over-affectionate chimpanzee.
The secret to the often unfeasible compositions Paul achieves? “Time, a good patient assistant who loves animals and above all, and understanding of the subject and its needs. A young animal tires very quickly and should be allowed all the rest it wants during a photo session. Try and pick up its vibrations in the way it picks up yours and it will give, unconditionally.”
One of Paul's most famous subjects was a spaniel pup named Susi, who got up to some amazing antics, solo and with other animals, throughout the 1950s. Susi was a regular in the Sunday Pictoral as “the Pic Pup”, and a decade later reappeared as a long running feature in the Munich Review. She has also graced a myriad of magazines, calendars and greetings cards, and is still a firm favourite, 60 years on.
It's this timeless nature and universal appeal that make Paul's images really stand out, and stand the test of time. Shot with commercial use well and truly in mind, and often featuring unnatural couplings and situations, they still maintaining an uncannily natural feel and of course, an undeniable and incomparable level of cuteness, it's just too difficult to ignore... altogether now: aahh!
Paul Kaye 1929-2012
We are very sad to announce the passing of Paul Kaye. In 2011 Paul joined Animal Photography and we began digitising his catalogue so a new generation of animal and image lovers can enjoy his work. The work to revive his unique and timeless collection continues.
Obituary: March 2012
Read the full article – BAPLA (The British Association of Picture Libraries)
The piece is taken from ANIMAL Imagery 2013 issue. Courtesy of My Darling Theo Foundation.