I first became acquainted with Princess Cheeto on Instagram and immediately feel in love. While the Princess is quite a beauty, it’s the photograph that captured my attention.
Is that a Princess Cheeto stuffed animal at FAO Shwarz???! Only one left! HURRY!
In this post I will have the great pleasure of introducing you to Princess Cheeto (if you don’t already know her), her dad Hugo Martinez, as well as take you behind the scenes of her shoots where all the “magic” happens with never before seen photos and commentary – an I HAVE CAT EXCLUSIVE!
Her photos stand apart from the thousands of adorable cat photos and gifs on Instagram in their simplicity, whimsy, design and coloration. They exude humor and joy.
They make me smile and I’m not alone. Close to 7k Princess Cheeto Instagram followers concur, not to mention all her Tumblr fans. I find myself anticipating her daily posting and check back again and again if it’s not yet been posted.
I believe it was a friend who tagged me on a photo of Cheeto on her dad’s head one with the tag/note “@ihavecat your next Cat Man Monday?”
How could I resist? I sent an Instagram message to the account (that only took about three days to figure-out considering I have no teenagers in my life!).
I received a prompt and eager message from Hugo Martinez, the man behind the Princess. We made a date to meet up the Maid Café NYC in Chinatown for a bubble tea date.
After exchanging gifts and enjoying our Taro bubble tea, we took a walk so I could introduce Hugo to meet Bobo, a lovable, ginger, China town gift shop cat I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago. I must admit I wasn’t exactly sure where Bobo’s store was, just the general vicinity, so poor Hugo had to endure a bit of a wild goose-chase. He was a super good sport about it.
As an adult, Hugo dreamed of having a ginger cat named Cheeto and spoke of it incessantly to his roommate.On his 23rd birthday she made his wish come true. Well, kind of.
She presented him with a female tuxedo cat. It’s unclear if she wasn’t listening to him, is hard of hearing, or the ASPCA was plumb out of ginger cats that day.
Regardless, the cat’s physical appearance, Hugo was undeterred in living out his fantasy to the best of his ability naming her “Cheeto” regardless of her appearance. He added “Princess” to make it more feminine and la viola, “Princess Cheeto” was born!
A photographer’s assistant – in his modestly he failed to mention the photographer in question is non-other than David LaChapelle. Hugo’s often ribbed by co-workers asking when he became a crazy cat lady. But I have to wonder if David secretly desires to shoot Cheeto much as Karl Lagerfeld has Choupette for print and TV.
His first shots of Cheeto were what he describes as “average snap shots,” until he realized how much fun Cheeto and her growing fan-based were having with the photos. “The reaction my friends had to her colorful photos encouraged me to take it up another level.”
She’s a consummate professional who seems to enjoy the limelight. Hugo says she’s a fast worker and she, “usually goes and stands on the seamless paper as soon as a roll it out. I think she likes how the texture of the paper feels on her paws.” (Let’s just give her credit and say the cat knows how to hit a mark!).
This cat’s no fool. According to dad, ”her favorite part about all of this is getting the treats after.”
They’ve even done a few “Cheeto in the City” shots around their apartment. He of course has someone with him to be Cheeto’s “handler,” he wonders if she was a bodega cat in a past life given her general comfort during these outings.
‘it was more about creating something fun. Something happy that could make people stop and forget about the stresses of everyday life. Overall, it’s the best feeling to have an audience react in such a positive way to the photos we create. I never thought that would happen, but I am glad I have found a way to combine my passion for photography and felines!”
And now I’m honored to share with you a BEHIND THE SCENES look at a Princess Cheeto photo shoot with commentary courtesy of Hugo.
“Cheeto is never late for a wardrobe fitting.”
“Patience is key to photographing a sassy model.”
“Taking a break between shots helps to keep Cheeto in the zone (treats don’t hurt either!).”
“Her favorite accessories to rock are her signature strawberry and pizza collars that I made from Kid Robot keychains.”
“Somedays this piece of sass wont corporate. But sometimes those improv moments are the best shots.”
“Here’s a photo of me and Cheeto waiting for the pizza man to come.”
“One of my favorite things to do is to print all the photos I take of Cheeto. In todays digital world, having a tangible photograph feels like a throwback to a more creative time when I was little.”
CHEETO TIME IS HT BEST TIME! Having post-shoot Photo Booth time with Daddy! She’s just a kitty after all!
Tamar here again!
It seems Miss Cheeto may be an aspiring photographer herself given her ever-growing collection of selfies. The “morning selfie” (upper right) is quite impressive. She actually got most of her face in-frame!
If you’re now as madly in love with Princess Cheeto as I am – and I hope you are – follow her on Instagram (@PrincessCheeto) and check out her brand new store where you can find t-shirts, prints, iPhone cases and more with her mug (and Hugo’s work) on them!
Did these photos and gifs make you smile or giggle? I hope so. Do you have a favorite?
Do you have a CAT MAN you’d like to see featured here? Have them email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email me and YOU can write about them!