Cats and dogs rarely get on, but one photographer makes the exception.
Cat Race, from Preston, loves spending her time with four-legged friends, and has built a career on her two passions.
The 34-year-old launched CatsDog Photography six years ago, specialising in taking professional photos of canines.
With a studio in Tulketh Brow, Ashton, Cat also finds herself in weird and wonderful places on location, from Blackpool beach and Avenham Park, to a macabre horror shop and even motorway service stations.
Cat explains: “I went down south over the summer with my partner Michael Higginson and we stopped over at services in Oxford for something to eat when we saw the most unique looking dog - a Chinese crested, crossed with a French bulldog, called Hoggle.
“We ran straight to him and asked the owner if we could take photos and we did. It was a spur of the moment thing.
“The owner then invited us to Shrewsbury to take photos of him at his family business, which was a macabre curiosity shop.
“It had all sorts of crazy things such as pickled animals, human skulls and a dead woman from a 100-year-old crypt, whose hand I shook.
“We created an atmosphere and had Hoggle with all sorts of weird and wonderful things around him.
“It took a couple of hours to set up but it was spectacular and will fit in with Halloween.”
Cat is beside herself for her latest venture as she has been headhunted by another professional photographer who has invited her to attend a shoot in Chicago.
She says: “I do a lot of sessions in the North West area, but I do travel further.
“This month I am in Chicago for a photo with a French pup and Bernese mountain dog. It is really exciting. My client is an American dog photographer, so she appreciates the art. As she lives in Chicago, she will fly me out and I will take photos of her dog.
“It is a real honour and I’m really grateful. She saw my work through Instagram and social media, which allows me to connect with so many people.”
Cat adds most of her photo shoots are either at her studio or in the more usual setting of a park, woodland, or beach.
She says: “I do cool urban shoots, or somewhere more natural like a park, or beach - somewhere the dogs can run around and be free.
“I often do happy, cheerful shots, with blue skies, a dreamy background or action shots, capturing the dogs’ personality and character.”
Cat says she feels very privileged to be chosen to capture precious moments between dogs and their owners, as she explains: “One of the first jobs I ever did that has stayed with me was back in 2013 with a terrier mix, called Charlie.
“He had liver failure and the owner didn’t think he would make it to our session so I brought it forward.
“He was running around on the beach and having fun.
“The owner texted me the day after and told me he had died and she was pleased we had managed to get the photo shoot.
“It really hit home how important it was what I was doing.
“That was their final moments together as they had a little adventure. They now have those happy memories to cherish.
“I also have clients messaging me years later to say they have now lost their dog. It is really sad, but also nice they keep in touch and reach out.”
Cat has taken photos of hundreds of dogs but her favourite subject has to be her eight-year-old chihuahua, Poppy, who is the inspiration behind the company logo.
She says: “Poppy is really good and my favourite subject to photograph. She has grown up in front of the lens. Whenever I get my camera out, she knows to pose and she will get a treat.
“She works with me in our studio and comes out with me and meanders behind me.
“After I have done taking photos, she will jump on the scene waiting for treats.
“I have used her as our logo and that is why we have called ourselves CatsDog.”
Cat has not missed the irony of her name, adding: “A few people have commented on my name, Cat.”
And she is not adverse to taking snaps of felines as she has photographed Felix the famous Huddersfield Station cat.
She has also had ponies and hens in front of the camera.
Cat reveals she is most at ease when she is behind the lens and she has won an award in The Kennel Club’s annual Dog Photographer of the Year four times.
He most recent win was in the Man’s Best Friend category for her image of Connected, a touching moment between Inka, a Munsterlander and her owner, Annie-May.
Cat says: “I have always had a camera in my hand, for as long as I can remember.
“I have been a professional photographer since 2006. I took a year out from my web and multimedia degree and I worked in digital arts at Venture Photography in Preston and St Annes and then I worked for fashion photography for Watermark in Ribbleton.
“That was really valuable experience. I completed my degree and worked as a family portrait photographer for four years.
“One day, someone had come into the studio with their dog and I thought it would be a massive task to take photos of them, but I could do it.
“I have always loved animals, and I think dogs are the most in tune with us and we can create great bonds.”
Cat started taking photos of dogs on a part time basis and when she had enough work, she gave up her job and set up CatsDog.
She says: “I am combining my two favourite things as I love working with animals and being creative.
“It is important to make sure dogs are comfortable and happy with you, so they can enjoy the experience, as you are capturing happy memories.
“I have worked with dogs who have anxiety issues or have a history of aggression. Some will sit still for me and other have wild, waggy bums. Sometimes I have them on leads to keep them still and photoshop that out.
“We do have some funny moments in between shots, as I feed the dogs peanut butter and you can see the expression on their faces as they lick their lips.”
But Cat reveals there is one downside to working with dogs - poo!
“There have been moments where I have rolled in poo. I wear ski gear and I am lying flat on the ground. There have been occasions when there has been dog dirt there but you just have to carry on.”
All photos were supplied by Cat Race at CatsDog Photography
To view more of Cat’s work, visit www.catsdog.co.uk. http://www.catsdog.co.uk