Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cat Angels

All images Copyright 2010, 2011 Cat Angels Pet Adoptions. All Rights Reserved

We first met Darrell Massengill and Diane Olson a few years ago when we were shooting at a cat show in Raleigh, North Carolina. They live in the area and had asked if they could sit in on a few photo sessions at the cat show and observe our techniques. They were also a cat photographer/cat wrangler team but, unlike Ken and I, who do this for a livelihood, their motivation is a far nobler calling: they do it to save lives. Diane and Darrell are part of a cat and kitten rescue group in Cary, North Carolina, called "Cat Angels." They photograph each rescue cat and kitten that comes in and post the images to the Cat Angels website to give each kitty a better chance for adoption.


Diane and Darrell understand that winsome portraits of their subjects are more likely to attract people to adopt them, so they were very interested in seeing our shooting, wrangling, and lighting methods as well as asking us questions about our equipment.

A year or two later, when they asked to sit in on some more shoots the next time we were in Raleigh, we were glad to see Darrell and Diane again. They are so friendly, gracious, and appreciative that we were happy to help. It was apparent that they were putting into practice what they were learning from us.

Diane Olson, Helmi and Darrell Massengill at Irregardless (Ken took the picture)

After the cat show, they took us to dinner at Irregardless, a great local restaurant, where we enjoyed spending time with them and swapping "war stories" about trying to coax decent portraits out of uncooperative kitties. Compared to their challenges, struggling to get appealing poses from freaked-out feral kittens/cats, we decided that we had it much easier with show cats who are generally easy to deal with.

Earlier this year, Diane sent us a calendar of her and Darrell's work, which Cat Angels published and sells to help subsidize the organizations operating expenses.

Accompanying each month's featured kitten is a little story about it.

This piece is quite obviously a labor of love -- as is everything that all those very special people in cat rescue do -- and we found it to be thoroughly charming.

Recently, Diane sent us the cover image for next year's calendar (below) that she and Darrell are currently working on.

Copyright Cat Angels Pet Adoptions

More recently, Diane wrote and asked if we could help her rescue group with a favor. That's what this story is all about. Their Cat Angels rescue group has lost the lease on their current facility, which the landlord now wants to occupy to expand his own business, so the rescue group has to move. And they want to double the size of their present space in order to double their adoption rate.

To help cover the additional expenses that this move will entail, Darrell and Diane have entered the Pepsi Refresh Grant Competition by producing this 59 second video:


To win this competition and get the grant, Cat Angels needs to get the most votes for their video, and Diane told me today that they are in 2nd place, but the competition is fierce with positions changing daily among the top contenders. So I'm posting this to my Blog to encourage all of you readers to vote for their video. Ken and I are voting every day, but we need your help, too!

You can vote every day in May by three different ways:

  • Through Facebook

  • By getting a free Pepsi Refresh Account

  • By texting 106148 to 73774 (PEPSI)

If you are reading this on Facebook or on my Blog, it's quite likely that, like me, you are a cat lover. And for one reason or another you may not be able to be directly involved in cat rescue like Diane and Darrell and so many other dedicated people who do this are. But you can make a difference by helping these big-hearted volunteers save the lives of more homeless cats and kittens. The $50,000 grant prize they can win -- with your help -- could save a lot of kitties!

Please take a moment to click on the above link to the Cat Angels video and vote for it, then vote again each day for the rest of this month. And share the link with your friends on Facebook! Thank you!

I will let you know how this turns out, but YOU can influence the outcome.


  1. Helmi,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful piece on Diane and Darrell and the terrific work they do!

    They are two of the most fabulous people I have ever had the pleasure to know. Their dedication to showing all of our cats and kittens to their best possible advantage has allowed us to adopt out over 700 so far!

    Their work gets better and better all the time, and it started out beautiful in the first place.

    Thank you for taking them under your wing and sharing your skills with them. You have helped them and Cat Angels make a difference in the lives of so many cats and kittens.

    I am the President and Founder of Cat Angels Pet Adoptions.

  2. Thanks to all of you who helped! They won because of your participation. I am so pleased to have been a part of this and thank you again.