This photographer wrangles his pet cats to create surreal family vacation photos


Jim Lind, a photographer/creative photo retoucher based in New York City who is also the creative director for HOWL, says working with his cats was the biggest challenge of executing his “Family Vacation” series.

“There’s a reason that most professional photoshoots involving animals hire pet wranglers and use trained animals. It’s very apparent how terrible my pets are as models once I bring out their outfits, and they scramble away biting and scratching anything that lunges toward them,” he said.

Lind, who shoots the images while on family vacations, got the inspiration for this growing project in 2012 after creating a “Save the Date” card for his wedding.

“It was a picture of my wife stabbing me in the gut with a large sword on the countryside of Edinburgh. We had stumbled across a kitschy photo booth where you could dress up in classic Scottish highland attire and pose for the camera. I’m assuming the photographer had more ordinary customers before us, because he lit up as soon as my wife, Ali, had asked if she could stab me with the sword. We had a good laugh at the image and thought we should do this every year to track the passage of time for our family. After seven years, we have added two cats into the mix, and we’re still going strong.”

Lind credits his wife as the support behind the creative process. “She wears many hats as she is the model, assistant and pet wrangler for this project. Whenever I come up with an idea, she is there to bounce ideas off of or to fan the flame of my imagination. Without her, this probably would’ve just been another idea floating in my head that never came to fruition.”

An iMac, Wacom tablet, Adobe Photoshop and a camera are essential tools used to construct the spellbinding scenes of “Family Vacation.” “The good thing about being a photographer and retoucher is that you can create big-budget ideas on a pittance. The important thing is that I match the photo resolution, lighting direction and camera height, and everything else falls into place much easier. At the end, I usually like to break apart the images in After Effects and make parallax videos for fun, which are somewhere between a flat 2-D image and a 3-D moving scene.”

When asked about his postproduction process, he said: “The process usually starts with a good amount of research of the destination and mood images to draw inspiration from. Once I’ve mulled it over for a good amount of time, I will either sketch it out on paper or write down the idea in detail. Then I have to convince my wife and coax my cats into uncomfortable positions. Once photographed, I sit on the images for way too long until I’m reminded that it’s almost New Year’s and I haven’t even started editing them. If the idea is more fleshed out before the shoot, then it falls into place much faster, and I can finish it in a week or two. However, if I don’t fully know how the image is going to look, then it can take me several weeks to photograph additional details, search for stock or clean up mistakes.”

Lind is in the process of editing for next year’s family vacation photo featuring the island of Santorini in Greece. “Keep an eye out in early 2020, as I’m pretty excited for how this one is turning out!”

You can find out more about Lind on his website.

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