These days, taking a photo is as easy as pressing a button on a smartphone. The quality of our always handy in-phone cameras has increased significantly. Yet, many of us are disappointed with our images and this is especially so when our subject has four legs. While great pet photography is an art like anything else, if you master a few basic tips, you can create photo stories your whole family will talk about for years to come.
Cats, unlike humans, don’t understand what we are trying to do and won’t just pose for the camera! We spoke to a number of pet photographers and asked for their favorite tips and tricks to get those amazing shots we often see and can’t seem to replicate ourselves.
Fear not! Here are 9 tips that will help you help you get the most of your photo session.
Tip #1: You can’t get a ‘staged’ photo
The first thing to remember is that Mittens, Fluffy or Mr. Jinxy may not pose exactly like you want – unless you simply want them to sit and look at the camera. While posed shots have their place as records of important moments or events, it’ll take a little more work to create photo stories of your cat you’ll truly cherish. But the effort you put in will be well worth it.
Oh, and a bribe never hurts. Often nothing helps more in getting the attention and cooperation of feline subjects than offering up a few scrumptious treats as a reward. This positive reinforcement is a great training technique and works wonders when asking a cat to hold still while you snap a picture. And, hey, they’ve earned it!
Tip #2: Get down to their level
In one respect, cats are like kids. They’re all over the place, they fidget and rarely, if ever, keep still. So it helps to get down to their level. No, that doesn’t mean making funny faces or acting a bit foolish. What is does mean is getting down on the floor in order to take the best photograph. Basically, you want to be eye-to-eye with your cat — whether he’s relaxing on the sofa or on top of the picnic table. Get up close and personal. You don’t need a fancy zoom lens to get in close to your subject and, oftentimes, moving physically closer to your subject is preferable.
You’ll make your cat the true subject of the photo and chances are that closeness can help to elicit a certain expression or movement (think an outstretched paw or a slight tilt of the head). When you do you’ll have be able to share memories of your cat in some of her most natural poses!
Tip #3: ‘Go below’
If it’s at all possible, try to take pictures of your cat from a perspective that’s below them – get underneath their normal line of sight. This will make for an unusual and intriguing shot and create photo stories no one will ever forget! You’ll have fun for many years as you share memories of these moments. Would you be surprised to know that just like people, cats have angles that are more flattering than others?
Ignore your initial instinct to shoot your cat from above and try from below. You’ll find that there are many more angles and compositions there for the taking, all of which will be more flattering and interesting.
Tip #4: Be quiet!
You never want to startle or alarm your cat. So try not to make any sudden movements or loud noises that might frighten your best friend. This is especially important when you’re sneaking up on him while he’s playing with a ball or rolling around on the floor. A good approach is to employ the familiar comforts of home where they are most at ease and familiar with the everyday sights and sounds. Your pictures will be much more successful if your cat feels comfortable and relaxed.
For many cats this will be at home, but it might also be that they are more relaxed at a certain time of day when there is less activity going on around them. Pay attention to when and where your cat is most relaxed before getting out your camera.
Tip #5: Bring out the performer in him!
This is very different than actually trying to get your kitty to pose. The fact is, many cats or dogs will actually perform tricks for certain family members they are comfortable with. And they’ll do it on command. If you can capture one of these moments, you’ll share memories that will be special and quite hilarious!
Capture what makes them special. People brag about their pets like others brag about their children. And why not? Our cats have unique personalities and capturing what makes them special will cause us to treasure our photos even more. So think about what it is about your cat that makes you beam and capture it. The payoff will be rewarding!
Tip #6: Keep your cat’s personality in mind
If you’re struggling for some good ideas, why not concentrate on your cat’s personality or his features? What makes him special or endearing? He may love to sleep on his back in a funny way? Or he may love jump real high when waiting for a treat. Or he may have unique eyes or an unusual color.
The point is, you know your pet’s best attributes. Capture them with your camera and create photo stories so you can share memories in the years ahead.
Tip #7: Put yourself (or a child) into the photograph
In the great scheme of things, people and pets go hand in hand, especially children. Who can resist a little kid and a pet?
While solitary shots are perfectly good, you can add real excitement and drama by creating contrasts and contradictions. Small children and big animals or big men with a small dog or cat will make everyone smile…and create photo stories that are truly special!
Tip #8: Avoid flash photography
Use Natural Light. It should be obvious that any type of flash may really frighten or alarm your cat. So it’s always best to shoot when the natural light is good. Try to go outside or, if it is not possible, in a room well lit by a large window.
Remember, animals are prone to red eye and eliminating the flash and using natural light is a great way to end the red eye effect!
Tip #9: Be prepared!
Let’s face it – getting the perfect shot of your family cat involves luck, being in the right place at the right time. So be prepared at all times. You never know when that precious moment will occur. Catch them while they’re sleeping or munching on a snack. Try to capture that priceless expression!
Oh, and don’t try for the perfect shot. Just have fun. That’s one of the biggest secrets to being able to share memories and create photo stories of your cats!
And did we mention…BE PATIENT! Now that you are armed with these easy to follow tips, go out and take some photos with your four-legged feline friend! Here are a few more photos we thought might inspire you.
This photo is mesmerizing in it’s simplicity, but haunting in capturing those incredible blue eyes.
Nicely framed this shot feels very natural and captures a mood of curiosity and aloofness.
Imagine the patience required to capture these 3 beauties.
Another stunning photo perfectly timed.
We’d love to see some of your kitty photo masterpieces. Be sure to check out our post on The Godfather of Cat Photography
Love the photo with the cat and hummingbird!
I love all of them. The trio is my favorite. 🙂