I love photographing my cats

Posted on December 31, 2012

Mike and Willie in Brad’s office on May 9, 2012. (Photo by Brad Mangin)


I am sitting here in my home office blogging on the last day of 2012. Since everyone else is writing end of the year stuff and showing off their favorite pictures from the past 12 months I thought I would too. Then the thought bored me. I am sick of looking at my sports pictures. I figured it might be more fun to write about something I have never written about before: my love for photographing my different cats over the past 30 years.

(CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGER PICTURE) Brad started photographing his cats when he first picked up a 35mm camera in the spring of 1982 during his junior year of high school. Here is an early contact sheet with pictures of Al Mangin shooting hoops and Spanky the cat hanging out. (Photos by Brad Mangin)

When I was a kid we always had at least one cat in the Mangin house. Our first cat was named Cotton. We got Cotton when I was about 5 and had him for a few years. I forget what happened to him, but eventually he was gone and it was time for another kitty in the house. Next up was O.J. That’s right, O.J. Poor O.J. did not last too long as my mom ran over him in the driveway one summer morning when my sister Paula and I were busy watching a game show on television.

Spanky on a skateboard, 1982. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

In order to quiet the crying Mangin kids we immediately went out and got O.J. #2. This O.J. was a fat and furry gray cat who was awesome. We loved O.J. #2 and were always entertained by his hunting exploits and bizarre eating habits. He loved to hunt down birds and mice, and he loved to eat spaghetti and ice cream.

Spanky in the oven, 1982. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Unfortunately O.J. #2 was an outdoor cat and one day while I was in high school he did not come home. It really sucked not having O.J. #2 around so we quickly picked up Spanky. Luckily for me Spanky was a willing subject for my camera when I took my first basic photo class from Mr. Ficken at Washington High School during the second semester of my junior year in 1982. My buddy Joe Gosen let me borrow his Pentax ME Super and I shot some pictures of Spanky on my first few rolls of film sitting around and even riding a skateboard (see above).

Spanky in the refrigerator, 1982. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

By the time I took intermediate photo in the fall of 1982 I had my own camera (Canon AE-1 Program) and was getting more creative with my cat photography. For one of Mr. Ficken’s assignments I had to take everyday objects and photograph them out of place. I decided to shoot Spanky in places where he wasn’t supposed to be! Thus you see the pictures of him all over our kitchen above and below.

Spanky in a pot on the stove, 1982. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

I got a good grade on the project (A, A. B+) and Spanky’s modeling career was over. Soon after this we got another cat when some neighbor’s down the street had kittens. This was the first time we ever had two cats at the same time and my dad named him Hobie (see below) after former San Francisco Giants player Hobie Landrith. Spanky was not too happy to have another cat in the house and started peeing in my mom’s wooden shoes in the garage- but that is another story.

Hobie, 1983. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Pretty soon I was headed to college and I started pursuing a career in photojournalism. This is when my cat photography went on hiatus. A long-ass hiatus. Over the next few decades I did not have any cats. First I lived in houses or apartments where cats were not welcome. Then I was just too lazy. I was used to living by myself without having many responsibilities. I was not sure I wanted to deal with being the sole provider of food and a clean litter box for a cat. I loved cats, but I was too selfish.

Willie (orange girl) and Mike on their first day in Brad’s house, April 19, 2011. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

I had many people telling me I needed to get cats. My sister Paula had two cats and told me how much I would love having the company around. My good friend Andy Kuno was all over me every time I saw him at the ballpark. Andy has two cats and wanted me to get two. Everyone said if I was going to get one I might as well get two. My buddy Robert Seale and his wife Karen have several cats in their Houston, Texas home. Travis follows Robert all over the house wherever he goes, and Robert kept telling me I needed cats. Finally, it was my friends Scarlet and Grover who sent me over the edge from their home in Mexico City. They started with one cat, Tequila Kitty, and then adopted her half-brother Pata. Seeing the pictures of their kitties on the Tequila Kitty Blog made me realize I needed cats of my own. The pictures were so great. I needed to get my own cats so I could take my own pictures!

Brad and Mike, April 21, 2012. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

My friend Rod is a volunteer at the San Francisco SPCA. He works with the kittens and helped me find a very special brother and sister pair of kittens who were eight weeks old when I brought them home in April of 2011. Their shelter names were Carl and McDonald. I named the boy Mike (after one of my favorite Giants Mike Ivie) and the girl Willie (Mays, McCovey, MontaƱez).

Instagram of Willie, August 28, 2012. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

I started photographing Mike and Willie with my little Canon point and shoot digital camera, but that soon changed when I got my iPhone 4s last December and started going Instagram crazy. Before I knew it the Canon was gathering dust and everything I shot of the kitties was with my phone.

Instagram of Willie in Brad’s office, August 28, 2012. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

So here we are on the last day of 2012 and instead of looking back on all my sports pictures I am showing you pictures of cats. I am enjoying this. It is fun to look back and see how I have progressed as a cat photographer! Seriously, I look at it as a challenge to make good pictures of Mike and Willie. Some are more successful than others, but every once in awhile I get something I REALLY like (below).

Instagram of Mike, December 29, 2012. (Photo by Brad Mangin)

Thanks for looking at my pictures. I know you have some great pictures of your pets. Don’t be afraid to show them off. I am not!


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