How to Take the Perfect Photo of Your Cat

Land of Meow Vespa

1. KNOW YOUR CATS PERSONALITY

Before you start taking any photos of your cat you first need to think about their personality and whether it will work with your idea. For instance if you have a laid back cat who finds it hard to get out of bed then you are unlikely to get an action shot. If you have a cat that is more like a wind up toy then sleeping poses will most likely be out. It also pays to think about your cat’s energy levels throughout the day. If they tend to nap at a certain time, or initiate a game of lick, lick, bite at the same time each day that will help you in setting up your shot.

If you’re going to be using an SLR or other type of camera with a shutter sound that can’t be turned off, let your cat become familiar with these noises in the days leading up to your photo session. And regardless of whether you are using an SLR or iPhone let the cat sniff it and feel comfortable around the device before you start. This will lessen the potential for the cat to dart away once you start clicking.

2. SETTING THE SCENE

Once you’ve got an idea of how you want to photograph your cat you will need to set the scene. A few basic rules will help ensure that your cat is the star of the photo.

Keep the background simple. Your cat should be the focal point so choose a backdrop that is not too busy. If your cat is sitting forward and away from the background, then they will stand out more. Any props like cat trees, beds, etc. should be pulled into the foreground to keep all the attention on your cat. A neutral coloured wall or blanket works well for contrasting shots. Colourful rugs and toys are a perfect way to brighten up a photo if you have a very pale coloured cat and will make your subject pop better. Outdoor backgrounds like a nice open patch of green grass, pots or attractive flowers/plants are also great ways to show off your cat.

Land of Meow Cat in house busy background

Remember to take note of any unclean or cluttered backgrounds that might distract from your subject. Keep in mind that it can be easy to miss your cat in a busy scene. Although cats are big in personality, they are small in size.

 

Land of Meow_Stellar with Moshiqa Collar

Credit: Photograph of LadyStellar courtesy of @cindydzunek

Choosing the best light. Soft, natural light is ideal for photographing your cat. An area with a large window often works best with overcast days making for the best pictures. Too much bright sun can cast odd shadows or make the background too bright so if you are shooting on a bright day time the shoot for when the sun is low in the sky.

Also avoid using a flash. Cats have a reflective layer in the back of their eyes that causes colours to be bounced back when a flash is used. Usually this will be blue in a kitten and green in an adult cat. This might sound better than the dreaded red-eye, but still undesirable in your photo.

Going for the close-up. In a close-up, the cat fills most of the frame and the background is barely visible. The subject is clearly the focus of the image. For these types of shots you will need to get really close to the cat so take into account any props you want to include and where they might need to be placed.

3. BEFORE YOUR START

Before you start shooting think about what part of the cat you want to photograph.

The Eyes: Cats have mysterious and beautiful eyes. Focusing on the eyes is a common way of capturing the emotion of the moment, but be careful not to focus on the nose accidentally. If you can photograph the eyes sharply they will look awesome. Cats have different characters and traits; they all react differently to similar situations. But one thing they have in common is their natural curiosity. Use it — it’s one of the ways to make the cats look where you want them to.

Land of Meow_Cat Face Spotted

The Paws: The paws are another common subject for cat photography and look adorable in a framed shot. Remember to clip the cats claws first so that the result isn’t ruined by a raggedy claw. Experiment with capturing different and unique angles; always look for interesting and new ways to focus your shot. Just remember that your cats paw pads are sensitive and most cats don’t like them being rubbed or fiddled with so try to avoid positioning them yourself.

Land of Meow_Cat Sleeping

4. CHOOSING YOUR ANGLE

To get your cat to look at the camera, try making a strange noise. You may need help to get the cat’s attention; have a helper stand behind you and rustle a paper bag or bounce a string toy.

Shooting the Cat at Eye Level: For this shot you want to be at the cat’s eye level. It may mean that you need to get down on your belly if the cat is on the ground — you almost want the lens to be looking up at your cat when you take the photo, not looking down. Being at the cat’s height means you will look at the world like they do. Results from this perspective will often surprise with how good they are.

Land of Meow_Cat Looking To Left

Shooting Downwards: Cats are not the tallest animals but if they are close to you then shooting from your eye-level downward can get a really nice high angle shot. This perspective emphasises the face and eyes of the cat. But beware that it can cause a bit of distortion to the photo, so it might give a comic touch to the image which is not intended

Land of Meow_Cat Looking Up
Land of Meow_Cat in Tree

Shooting A Cat Above You: Cats love heights and are often climbing on trees, walls or bookshelves.  You can emphasise this shot by taking photos from a low angle and point the camera up.

5. KEEPING YOUR CAT HAPPY

It is important to keep your cat happy during the shoot. Don’t have a nonstop photo session. Let them take a break! Mix play in and you might find it adds a new element to the session.

Toys that get cats jumping in the air or objects that you know your cat can’t resist, such as an empty cardboard box or an open bag of kitty treats are great ways to lure your kitty out for some funny action shots. Tailor it to your cat’s quirks. Even a window opened just a crack, but not enough that the cat can get out of, will usually give you plenty of time to take adorable pictures of the cat peeking out.

A few treats are always handy as well. Treats can be cat nip, a favourite toy or a scratch in that perfect spot that they love so much. It doesn’t have to be food based.

6. WIND UP

Be Open-Minded About the Results

If you have the right kind of cat it may be possible to make them pose in a specific way but usually the cat will end up either ignoring you or doing whatever it wants. At this point, the best thing to do is to be open minded and accept that these little felines have their own ideas. Take a deep breath and keep taking photos of whatever the cat is doing. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Lastly, take plenty of photos

If you have a pet, then sooner or later they’ll break your heart. Don’t be caught when it’s too late without any good photos of your beloved cat. Think about his or her personality and try to record their various traits on camera. Take lots of photos to enjoy during and after your pet’s lifespan, including selfies of you both together. Cherish your cat and celebrate living!

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