The French Cat + The French Dog

by Amy Azzarito

A couple weeks ago, while working at the Stewart, Tabori & Chang offices (Did you know that if you’re late with a book project, your editor might actually make you work in the office? It’s like study hall. Or detention. For me, it was detention.), I passed these books in a glass display case. If you’re a book lover, the fun part of working in a publishing office for a day is seeing all the books. When I pulled this book out of the glass case, I knew I had found a winner. These photos make me incredibly happy. Author Rachael Hale McKenna is a successful animal photographer. Her big break came when, at age 23, she won a local photography competition with a pig wearing a watch. Back then, much of her animal photography took place in indoor studios, but Rachael longed to take photos of animals in their natural habitat or, as she writes, “just doing their thing.” Then, she quite suddenly met the love of her life, and within a year of meeting, the two were married and expecting a baby. Two months after getting married, the couple moved from New Zealand to the south of France. The couple’s daughter was born in December, and the three of them began work on The French Cat while exploring their new home. (There’s a great video here of Rachael with the baby crawling around as she works.) Rachael didn’t use a zoom lens or Photoshop, so she had to befriend the cat for each photo. — Amy Azzarito

See more of the French Cat (and the French Dog!) after the jump!

Image above: I love the photos of Rachael’s journal, which documents where she met the animal and the story behind the photograph.

After The French Cat, Rachael tackled The French Dog. While the cats were usually out and about on their own, the French dog is incredibly social and typically hangs out with his master, so Rachael had to request permission with her imperfect French. (What a great way to make new friends!) Luckily, most owners were overjoyed to have their canine friends photographed. While flipping through these books, I couldn’t help but think that they would make great Mother’s Day gifts for dog- or cat-loving moms. (Or for yourself!)

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  • I’m pretty sure Rachael Mckenna and I are long-lost sisters! (Proof — we have the same name) Her life sounds like a dream. I can’t wait to see her book in person. Thank you for sharing.

  • Opps! The photographer’s name on the book is Rachael Hale. On the Youtube video it is Rachael Hale McKenna. Either way, I love her work!

  • I love these photos. What great themes..>The French cat, the French dog…I could see the French Knitter. Seriously what knitter doesn’t want to befriended and photographed in action? Or the French cook? In action in front of the stove. Gosh, the French theme could keep Rachael busy for the rest of her life!

  • I love that Siamese in the studio. A few years ago, my husband took some great shots of Parisian cats you might also enjoy: parisianfields.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/parisian-cats/

  • This was the perfect post to read sipping my morning tea with my 2 cats and dogs at my feet, enjoying the sunshine. The morning is the only time of day that my office is full of sun… so they all smoosh in here. The cat hugging the tree is beyond adorable! What a great book find!

  • What I really want to know is what makes a French dog or cat different from any other cat or dog? :)

  • These photos are so delightful. I can imagine the actual lives of these animals, spending the afternoon lazily snoozing in an overstuffed chair, or riding shotgun in a beautifully-designed car or greeting your master’s guests in your fabulous French salon.

    Clearly, my Wednesday is already made.

  • Absolutely lovely! I had to order The French Cat as soon as I read this post, and I am not normally that impulsive. Cats in France? oui oui!
    I obviously need to pre-order The French Dog as well – that pampered Dachshund photo just about melted me.

  • Too funny! My husband picked up the Design Sponge book and said “this is a book about women with cats, and their decor!”

    This post has only strengthened his argument. (He hates cats).

  • You can always count on kitties to recognize, appreciate, or demand beauty in their surroundings. My parent’s cat, Kitty Blue will point out any spec of trash or bits of mud from boots on the floor – instantly. She has very high standards. We adore her.

  • As a former retailer who stocked Rachel’s very popular cards it is wonderful to see how her photography career has progressed. Well done……

  • How beautiful! There’s just something about French interiors, those shutters, flagstone floors and the imperfections of a rambling yet elegant and stylish French house – and to see them with a cute dog or cat is definitely a winner! Love the ‘alley cats’, not the right description at all but just a great shot.

  • Everything about these pictures are amazing; what a life!!! I love the 2 dogs sitting in the car- so reserved!

  • WOW, Thank you so much everyone for such wonderful positive feedback. I am thrilled that so many of you are enjoying the books. Andy, Charlize and I had such an incredible time traveling France creating the images for both projects and it is very rewarding to be able to share our journey and my images through the books with so many people worldwide. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts; I hope to continue creating images for you all to enjoy! If you like ‘The French Cat’ and/or ‘The French Dog’, look out for my new Lifestyle book ‘Lunch in Provence’ that will be released later this year.
    A Bientôt
    Rachael McKenna née Hale

  • Love love love the photos – so french and those animals – just wonderful. I completely empathise with Rachel – I moved from London to the north of France – opposite ends but now have chickens, cats and dogs and adore the look of old French houses, interiors, furnishings and accessories – so looking forward to read the books. Here are my lovely cats – four strays who are now very pampered : http://www.thegoodlifefrance.com/my-french-life-two-more-cats-arrive/

  • The photos would be lovely and evocative even without the cats, but with? Must buy now! Armchair traveling at its best.

  • This looks absolutely beautiful! Going to get this for my mum for Mother’s Day (I love buying presents I can enjoy too) ;)

  • I’m getting this for myself for Mother’s Day and I don’t even have any children (well, does the dog count? Of course!).

  • What is it about France that just makes everything look nicer…even when the thing is already really, really cute? Beautiful collection, merci beaucoup for sharing!

  • so yesterday I left the office and immediately went to the bookstore and got The French Cat. I LOVE IT!

    Thanks for always showing me wonderful books Grace!

  • ALL of us in the family are cat lovers, I cant wait to have the book, BRAVO, I have three cats, two of them I picked up in Paros Greece, they were maybe two weeks old, now the are four.

  • I love France, I love pets and I love images of them together and separately! As an unabashed francophile, these photos stirred my inner wanderer~! And as a blatant animal-lover, oh – the – JOY!!! Thank you for bringing this wonderful work to my attention.

  • This is wonderful, I love the concept of this photography – I am a huge fan of pet photography and this is just fantastic to capture cats and dogs “doing their thing”, thank you so much for sharing!

  • @AmyAzzarito I was thrilled with all the comments everybody posted regarding the French Cat/Dog series, thank you to everyone, and with this I want to announce we are going to be in New York this week for 10 days to start shooting for our new project The New York Dog, following on from the French series I am aiming to produce my best book to date, capturing the true characters of the city dog, so if you are from New York and have a dog please get involved. we have a campaign on the following link http://igg.me/p/304538/x/2010186 please spread the word, we need your help, we have some fabulous rewards on offer for pledgers and I would love to get your support to make this a book, that not only I will be proud of, but a book the New yorkers will display on their coffee table for years to come.

    Thank you for all your support and we look forward to hearing from you.

    Rachael xxx