Jane Burton, Animal Photographer
Published 2014

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Each year, as the Easter holiday approaches, the internet and emails buzz with photos of cats with rabbits taken against a white background. These photos have attained an almost iconic status.

The artist who first came up with the idea of pairing animals of different species but of similar coloring in a photo is British photographer, Jane Burton.

The Artist

Jane Burton’s father was the well-known British zoologist and writer, Maurice Burton, and so it was not unexpected that Jane grew up developing close relationships with animals — both domestic and wild. 

At the same time, Jane loved drawing. She attended art college in London where she perfected her artistic skills.  With just a few sure lines she could produce accurate representations of animals in action, and for years her pen and ink drawings illustrated her father’s regular articles in the Saturday edition of The Telegraph.

The Photographer

From the pen to the camera was an easy transition for Jane, and her black and white photos were a compliment to many of her father’s articles in the Illustrated London News. 

Jane was one of the first female wildlife photographers to leave Britain for West Africa in 1960 when her husband, Kim Taylor, took them to Nigeria in his role as an agricultural adviser. With the advent of color photography Jane produced a wealth of wildlife photos from many parts of the world.  These were sold through agents in London and New York. 

Jane with her young daughter and son

Together, Jane and Kim traveled the world and in their spare time made several documentaries, including "A Cave Of Bats" for ITV and "Camera In The Caribbean" for the BBC. 

Jane snuggles with a badger

Jane with the family dog and a hedgehog

The Cat Breeder

Despite having photographed wildlife worldwide, it was Jane's ability to capture the nature and character of cats that was perhaps her greatest talent.  Jane came to cat photography in the 1980’s when upon returning to Britain she moved into a disused Victorian school building with masses of space both inside and out.  This allowed her to keep and breed cats.  By carefully selecting the parents, she was able to produce many litters of delightful kittens with outstanding temperaments. 

Jane with one of her Persian kittens

The kittens grew up accustomed to playing in the photography studio, and they became the subject of literally thousands of photographs.  As the kittens grew into cats, they were re-homed to families all over England, becoming dearly loved pets. 

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

A Unique Idea

Cats are notoriously hard to photograph in a studio setting. The secret of Jane’s success as a cat photographer was three-fold — first in producing beautiful and accommodating subjects through her judicious breeding; second in having an incredibly patient and skilled assistant named Britta; and thirdly in Jane's own patience, persistence and judgment which allowed her to capture so many memorable and unrepeatable shots.

Later, Jane came up with the idea of photographing cats with unusual, often color-coordinated, companions. Her very docile studio-savvy cats were particularly good subjects and she pioneered this as a subject for photography. During her career, Jane amassed an incredible collection of visually stunning animal photographs. Her pictures of cats with other animals have been much used for calendars and greetings cards, and have also found their way onto mugs, mouse mats, umbrellas and bed covers.

Watch Out For Identity Theft

Some years ago, an email titled “Watch out for Identity Theft” began circulating on the internet. It featured a collection of Jane's photos. The "joke" was that because the animals pictured were similar in color, one of the animals was trying to pretend to be a member of the other's species. Because of Jane's love of cats, many of the images featured at least one cat. The enchanting pictures are a testament to Jane's skill and patience. You can see more of Jane's photos in our Easter-themed article titled Kittens & Bunnies.

Which of these is not like the other? Which of these doesn't belong?

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

Jane's Legacy

Sadly, Jane died of cancer in 2007. Her son, Mark Taylor, a talented photographer in his own right, has continued Jane's work, promoting it and combining it with Photoshop techniques to produce further stunning photos and images available from Warren Photographic.

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

Photo by Jane Burton / Warren Photographic

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