Q&A with Viral Pet Photographer Seth Casteel


Seth Casteel is no stranger to going viral. His Underwater Dogs photo series nearly broke the Internet when it debuted in 2012, and his inventive photographs have been delighting pet lovers ever since. Casteel’s latest photo collection, POUNCE, debuts October 18, featuring rescue cats and kittens exploring and interacting with the world around them.

In addition to putting one of our favorite POUNCE images on the cover, we sat down with Casteel to talk about his work, his kitty appreciation, and his best photo tips for cat parents.

SethCasteelAndCatTAILS: What was your favorite part about creating POUNCE?

Casteel: Seeing just how magnificent cats are from a very close distance. Most of the cats featured in my book are pouncing at toys very close to me, and some are pouncing at me and my camera—just an inch or two away! I was especially impressed with the kittens; even at such a young age, their pouncing skills are extremely finessed.

How did you choose your feline models?

I worked with shelters across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. There are so many awesome cats in need of forever families—my hope is that showcasing them reminds people to adopt a cat, and never buy one.

Is it harder to photograph dogs or cats?

Photographing animals in general requires a tremendous amount of patience, but cats are on a completely other level! When I’m working with dogs, it’s a collaboration; we become a team. With cats, they are the boss, and I’m their assistant hoping not to annoy them. In general, [they’re] going to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. I just have to have the camera ready for when they do!

Are there any unique challenges to photographing cats?

Yes,there are many. If a client were to bring his cat to a new place for a photo shoot, the cat is probably thinking, “Where am I and why am I here?”She may react in a fearful or anxious way. On the flipside, if I go to the client’s house, the cat will still probably be thinking, “Who are you, why are you in my house, and what is all of that weird equipment?” Perhaps an even more significant challenge is the nature of the relationship humans have with cats. Although the love and the bond is just as powerful, cats express their emotions very differently than dogs.

You have always had at least one canine companion––did working on the book inspire you to bring home any feline friends?

I became attached to many of the cats and kittens—it was incredibly difficult not to bring all of them home! Due to my overwhelming travel schedule, I’ve decided not to adopt any more pets at this specific time. I have my little Poodle mix, Nala, who travels with me and has a very spoiled and comfortable lifestyle. She’s my only fur-baby at this time, but I look forward to adopting more pets when the timing is right. I would love to adopt a pair of kittens!


What do you hope the book accomplishes?

I want readers to know that cats are awesome! Millions of people already know this, but for those that don’t, it’s my wish that the images in this book reveal just how amazing cats truly are.

What are your tips for people who want to take better pictures of their cats?

• Try out a fisheye lens and get as close as possible to your cat. The closer you get, the more interesting the pictures become.

• If you have a cat that likes to play, catch the action for a unique shot. Round up your cat’s favorite toys, let him have them, and snap away.

• Catnip can create some hilarious moments. The bliss and euphoria many cats feel after ingesting this natural herb can be very entertaining.

• Photograph your cat near a window, if possible—the window light enhances your cat’s eyes. On the flipside, avoid using a flash in a dark setting, or your cat may transform into a creepy monster cat with red, beady, glowing eyes!

In addition to the book, you have a new TV project coming up. Can you give us the inside scoop on Finding Fido, the reality series debuting soon on Z Living?

I’m super excited about Finding Fido! I have the privilege of hosting the show and helping people adopt dogs. The series is a terrific vehicle to promote rescue and adoption and showcase all of the wonderful animals who are looking for loving families. It also provides guidance for people who are interesting in adopting a dog, but just aren’t sure which kind of dog may be the best match for them.

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