Long before the viral cat treads on social networks and Instagram sensations like Gringo the Moustache Cat and Coby, New York-based photographer Walter Chandoha was capturing the hearts of the public with his photos of feline friends. His huge archive is believed to include more than 90,000 photographs of cats, many of which appeared on greeting cards, magazines, and pet food packaging across the U.S. for more than 50 years. Chandoha began his career as a combat photographer during the Second World War and an art director postwar, but it was a chance encounter with a kitten during a winter’s night in New York City during 1949. Chandoha adopted the kitten and named him Loco, but little did he know his new pet would become his muse and determine the rest of his career. You can see some of his photographs in our gallery below and in celebration of his prolific career, Taschen recently released a book, titled “Walter Chandoha. Cats. Photographs 1942–2018”, featuring around 300 of his most celebrated images taken between 1942–2018. – the book is now available to purchase on Amazon.
COVER Walter Chandoha. Cats. Photographs 1942–2018 Walter Chandoha, Susan Michals, Reuel Golden Hardcover, 9.3 x 12.4 in., 304 pages. US$ 50 | £ 40 € 40
Siamese kittens, New Jersey, 1962.
Early in his career, Chandoha sought the advice of a Ringling Brothers tiger trainer who shared these three tenets of animal training: “To get the shot, you need three things: sound, patience, and food.” Siamese, New Jersey, 1984.
Onlookers at Fabulous Felines pet store. New York City, 1961.
An early photoshoot between photographer and subject, taken in Chandoha’s Long Island home studio. 1955.
“My daughter Paula and the kitten both “smiled” for the camera at the same time… but the cat’s not smiling, he’s meowing.” – Walter Chandoha Paula and Kitten is one of Chandoha’s most recognized and perhaps most fortuitously timed photographs, 1955.
The spirited Loco – a stray Russian Blue Chandoha retrieved from a snowy New York City street, that would launch his photographic journey. Astoria, 1951.
Sound was pivotal to Chandoha’s success: the click of a can opener could perfectly align his often-unruly models. New Jersey, 1961.
A clowder of ominous looking felines characterize one of the photographer’s most famous works, aptly titled The Mob. New Jersey, 1961.