Before the Interwebs, There Was Walter Chandoha

Walter Chandoha took about 90,000 photos of cats in his lifetime. He died earlier this year at the age of 98. His work defined the cute cat photo genre in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, long before Icanhascheezburger and #catsofinstagram. You are no doubt familiar with one of his most famous images:

But there are 89,999 others waiting for your appreciation.

Back in the day, Chandoha’s cat photos were everywhere: advertisements, greeting cards, calendars, jigsaw puzzles, posters, T-shirts and cans of cat food.

He authored more than 30 books during a career that lasted over seven decades. Some are collections of his cutest cat photos. Some are “how-to” books for both budding and professional photographers.

Before he passed away, he was able to work on one final book: Cats. Photographs 1942–2018.” It’s a career retrospective that features about 300 of his greatest cat photos.

“If he didn’t have an assignment, he’d go outside. He’d see that one cat just had kittens, and he’d be there all day taking the pictures,” said his daughter, Fernanda.

For his planned shoots, Chandoha would borrow cats from local shelters or other cat owners. His family also adopted dozens over the years.

His wife, Maria, was usually his assistant, and she was essential to getting the best shot.

“She would understand the cats enough to know when they’re ready for him to shoot,” Fernanda remembers. “My mother and him, they had a real good understanding of each other and a really good understanding of the cats. They just knew the right time.”

In addition to his book, Cats. Photographs 1942–2018 you can find a gazillion of his photos on Instagram.

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