Saturday 1 May 2021

Press photographers surround Socks, the Clinton family cat, in Little Rock, Ark., in 1992

This sort of photograph always amuses me. I used to be a photographer back in the 1970s. The main part of my business was photographing actors for promotional, handout portraits for casting purposes. Although I did variety of work including press photography and portraits of other celebrities which were published in magazines. So I know a bit about professional photography. It was harder in those days because digital cameras were unheard of. They had not been invented. I found it very hard to make a living out of it which is why I eventually became a solicitor. More stable work.

Press photographers surround Socks, the Clinton family cat, in Little Rock, Ark., in 1992
Press photographers surround Socks, the Clinton family cat, in Little Rock, Ark., in 1992. Photo: Mike Nelson - AFP via Getty Images. I claim fair use! 

Digital cameras became pretty common in the 1990s and the photograph on this page was taken in 1992 by Mike Nelson. I suspect that this is a film photograph i.e. was taken with 35mm film rather than digitally. It has that quality and there is some grain. I will also presume that all the guys you see in the photograph were using 35mm film cameras. Perhaps professional photographers were slow to take up digital cameras. As they weren't that good in the early years, perhaps there was good reason.

The man lying down, getting dirty, at cat height on the sidewalk is the press photographer getting the best photograph, by far. All the other press photographers are photographing Socks' back! Of course, they are waiting for that moment when Socks turns around and looked up at them.


But you get a much better cat photograph if you get down and dirty to the level of the domestic cat. It is uncomfortable. And cats are hard to photograph even when cooperative. Although some positively hate being photographed. You point the camera at them and they think you are taking their soul from them like the secretive and isolated Amazonian tribes. It helps to have a second person 'wraggling' the cat or cats. Or even a third!

Perhaps the best photograph taken that day is the one we see on this page: of photographers taking a photograph! The Bidens are about to introduce their new cat to the White House. Will there be problems with their German Shepherd Major?

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