I was browsing through my favorite cat hat maker's site a few months ago and it finally struck me. I'd seen the Jesse Pinkman beanie before... and the Heisenberg hat. But I hadn't thought of creating something with the two of them together. And since I have two cats...
I got the ball rolling with Amelie of ToScarboroughFair on Etsy. We first learned of this shop when we did the cat calendar for Sophos and our prop coordinator ordered quite a few chapeaus for the shoot from there. This is the shop Kiwi's aviator cap came from and how handsome was he?
So I took measurements of Kiwi and Mango, ordered the hats, then looked for more "Breaking Bad" props. In all honesty, they're pretty easy to find. The real challenge was not to go overboard and clutter it up. I nixed my idea of a blackboard with chemistry formulas. I looked around for a good image I could use for the Fleetwood Bounder RV and in the end, I bought a diecast model of it. I got raspberry rock candy for Walter White's Blue Sky meth. I found the golden moth decal for the barrels. I ordered a cheap pair of sunglasses in the Heisenberg style. And I found Los Pollos Hermanos bags for that extra little bit of verisimilitude. If you're a "Breaking Bad" fan, you'll notice elements of many seasons are combined into the one photo.
Once I got all my props, I needed to wait for a day when I had all my lights set up. I had just done two headshots the same week and since everything was still out, that's when I did my photography. I'd already found the background plate, an abandoned warehouse stock photo, and so I knew the light was coming in from camera left so that's how I photographed everything. I especially paid attention to the angles on the background that I had already built. I put the table in there quite a while ago so that was my main angle.
This time, the boys weren't having hats on their heads. They did not want to pose the way I wanted them to pose. You don't want to make a cat suffer so we had to scrap that idea. I won't torture an animal for a picture. Instead, we just played with their feather toys and it was really that easy once we did it their way and not our way. The hats were photographed separately and composited on them like everything else was composited.
Mango, who is not usually the star of my composites, gave the perfect Heisenberg menace. He's so funny with his little mouth open and those claws. He is the most mild-mannered cat you could meet. He lives to be touched and petted, he is just a big purr monster. Kiwi has attitude. He's extremely friendly, even more friendly and at ease than Mango, but he doesn't really like to be petted. And his purr, if you get one, is almost imperceptible. But he loves leaping in the air chasing the toys, he's quite athletic. He's a great subject and his two-tone fur is easier to photograph than Mango's black.
So as I photographed each part, I put them in Photoshop and cut them out of the background and placed it on the background plate to see if I got the right angles and lighting. When I finally did the boys, almost last, I figured out what angle the hats needed to be in and photographed them. Doing it in Photoshop was much easier than trying to put them on their heads.
And then I put the whole thing together and voila! A "Breaking Bad" photo shoot.
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