Ryan Schude Meets Guinness World Record Winner Colonel Meow

October 3, 2013

By Jacqui Palumbo

© Ryan Schude

The Cat with the Longest Fur 2012, Colonel Meow.

Ryan Schude began his prolific photography career with street photography and action sports, maintaining a photo editor/staff photographer position at a small San Diego magazine for three years before the publication went under. He relocated to Los Angeles in 2006 to start his portfolio from scratch, and he credits the city as the catalyst that propelled him into his current body of work. “This town has influenced me in numerous ways based on the entertainment industry, neighborhoods, and resources available,” he says. Access to locations, props, stylists, makeup artists and other creatives have allowed his vision to be fully realized. 
Schude’s overarching style is cinematic and tableaux, constructing a narrative and letting it unfold through multiple characters and rich details in a single image. His storytelling is often light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek. He translates this from his personal to his commercial work, creating elaborate productions for clients such as Caesar’s Casinos, or utilizing the same quality of cinematic lighting and detail to his editorial portraits. 
© Ryan Schude
Top: An image from a collaboration with Ryan Schude and Tamar Levine.
Bottom: Craig Bierko for Chicago Social Magazine.
Some of the projects Schude takes on do not require the same level of production that he is known for, so he streamlines his aesthetic for the simpler portraits in a way that is still markedly his own. For the past 3 years, he has photographed for the Guinness World Records after Photo Editor Michael Witty discovered his work while researching Los Angeles photographers back in 2010. Since then he has shot 37 record holders for their books and website, including 2010’s shortest cat, 2010’s dog with the longest ears, 2011’s tallest cat, 2011’s dog with the longest surf ride, and most recently, 2012’s cat with the longest fur.
© Ryan Schude / The dog with the longest ears, 2010
The cat with the longest fur, the distinguished Colonel Meow, was one of the easier shoots that Schude has experienced for Guinness World Record animals. 2010’s shortest cat, who was a fully grown cat with tiny legs (“like a clawfoot bathtub,” Schude describes), was an unwilling participant in the record-holding book, and the 12 surrounding cats on location gave Schude the worst allergy attack he has ever experienced. Schude snapped a photo of the cat beside his assistant’s feet, referencing the classic cartoon Tom & Jerry’s, and their perspective of the housekeeper.
© Ryan Schude / The cat with the shortest legs, 2010.
Schude found the tallest cat and dog with the longest ears to be more agreeable, and has fine-tuned his animal direction over the years. The dog with the longest ride on a surfboard was the most well behaved, but Schude found himself in the ocean in San Diego “trying not to get run over by a surfing dog.” 
Colonel Meow, on the other hand, was an easy shoot. His owner, Anne Marie had recently relocated to LA and Schude, along with Deputy Photo Editor Fran Morales, built a makeshift studio in the location where they were staying. They opted for a simple background to show off Colonel Meow’s fur, and Anne Marie acted as the groomer on set. 
© Ryan Schude / The cat with the longest fur, 2012.
Schude photographed the cat with a Canon 5D Mark II tethered to a Macbook Pro and Capture One Pro, and lit him with one large Photek umbrella with a sock and one small softbox on a Profoto Acute 2400 pack. Colonel Meow was willing to have his photo taken, but Schude says he could sense when he had fulfilled his obligation to them. “Once we had the shot, he knew it. He shut down after that so we couldn’t stretch it out for options, so smug,” he jokes.
Ryan Schude is represented by Glasshouse Assignment. To see more shots from the Colonel Meow shoot, visit their blog.
For more work from Schude, visit his website.