What do Salvador Dali and cats have in common? Jumping, of course
Cats have nine lives or so the saying goes – and if Daniel Gebhart De Koekkoek’s photographs are anything to go by, they need them. In a collection of light-hearted photographs, De Koekkoek has captured cats mid-jump, suspended in the air, in a series that took four years to make.
“The original inspiration came from Salvador Dali,” explains De Koekkoek. “He worked together with Philippe Halsman on the Jump series. There was one of Dali jumping as a self-portrait that I found very interesting and I wanted to make a new reference to this genre of photography. That’s how it started out.”
Shifting focus from humans to pets, De Koekkoek photographed cats around Vienna and Austria, starting with his parents’ pet and always shooting them at home. He wanted to capture the animals’ movements in their everyday environments, he says, and couldn’t have captured the same images in-studio. Even so, putting the project together took patience.
“I had sessions of around about two hours, two to three times a week,” he says. “I was spending a huge amount of time together with the cats, trying to gain their trust to make them feel confident enough to jump normally.”
All his shots are 100% in the moment but, he says, viewers often assume he must have used Photoshop to fake them. “I don’t know why!” he says. “People think I’ve managed to put the images together somehow – some were worried that I had thrown the cats, which I have never done!”
All in all, it’s a technical achievement not to be sniffed at – but De Koekkoek, who has also shot a series on Austrian military draft and regularly works for Monocle, says it wasn’t intended to be taken too seriously. “Most people just think it’s fun,” he says, “and that’s all I wanted.”