Cat photography for beginners: 5 tips for ‘Puurfect’ photos
Any cat lover will tell you that cats live by their own rules and don’t follow human expectations or timeframes. But while cats aren’t the easiest subject to photograph, they do make for some great photos. You probably have lots of photos of your cat on your phone already but if you feel like levelling up and trying to get some great shots, here are my five top tips for improving your cat photography at home. These tips work for whatever type of camera you’re using, even your phone.
Cat Photography Tip 1: Be patient
As a pet photographer with many years of experience under my belt the first thing I need to tell you is that photographing cats is not easy and you need to be patient. Cats make their own rules and won’t agree to participate in your photoshoot just because you’re ready. But while this fierce independence is one of the reasons we love them, it does make coaxing them into poses difficult. Instead, you need to embrace the randomness of their behaviour, be patient, and have your camera ready. That way, when they strike a great pose or do something adorable, you can click your camera and capture the shot.
Cat Photography Tip 2: Use burst mode
Because cats are so unpredictable, I recommend using burst or continuous shooting mode which will allow you to capture split seconds in time that you wouldn’t be able to get if you tried to time your click of the camera button. When photographing your own cat, you may be able to predict their behaviour a little better and if you think they’re about to act, start taking pictures. You will end up with quite a lot but when you look back through the photos, hopefully, you will be able to find that one great shot. Just bear in mind that this shooting mode will fill up your memory quickly so make sure you have space and delete the photos that are no good.
Cat Photography Tip 3: Get close and low
In photography a close up means the subject (in this case your cat) fills most of the frame and the environment around and behind them is barely visible. To get this close, you may need to get your cat used to your camera and leave it near them for a while before you start snapping photos so they can check it out and decide that it’s not a threat. Then once you begin taking photos, don’t make any sudden movements or change from standing to kneeling too fast, the trick is to move slowly. And if you’re hoping to get a real close-up of the face or eyes, consider using zoom so you don’t get right up in their face.
I also recommend that you vary the angles from which you take your shots. A favourite of mine is to get down to their level (or lower!). Photographing them from human height means the shot loses intimacy and keeps the background (i.e. the floor) in focus. But when you get down to their level, you can look them in the eye with the camera and focus on them so that the background becomes out of focus. And if scrabbling around on the floor isn’t your idea of fun, try moving them on top of your sofa or on a table so you can get on their level without getting on the floor.
And of course, using one of your cat’s many, many nap times is also an ideal time to capture photos. Cats make some pretty unusual shapes when they’re sprawled out and particularly if they like bathing in the sun and there are some interesting shafts of light across their body this can make for some excellent shots.
Cat Photography Tip 4: Focus on the eyes
Think of the best portraits you have ever seen. It’s always the eyes that are telling a story. With cats, it’s no different. As a pet photographer, I always train the focus of my lens on the eyes. Eyes convey emotions and in cats are particularly beautiful and mysterious. If you can get them sharp in your photos, they will look stunning.
But something to be aware of before starting your cat photoshoot, is that cats will generally avoid direct eye contact and to them, the lens of a camera represents a big eye. By getting them used to the camera before you begin shooting, they’re more likely to be comfortable with it when you start pointing it in their direction. If you’re taking photos with your phone, you won’t have this problem as the lens is much smaller.
Cat Photography Tip 5: Use sounds and toys
And finally, to help show off their personality and capture some interesting shots, there are a few techniques you can use to get their attention that work (almost) every time. As a professional cat portrait photographer, I always use these techniques to get the cat I’m photographing to look at the camera and help bring out its best side.
First, by nature, cats are curious animals and they like interesting noises. Snapping your fingers or rustling a paper bag with one hand next to the camera is a good way to get them to look over so you can snap a shot. However this will only work a few times before the cat wises up and gets bored so use sparingly.
Second, bringing toys into the mix is also a great way of getting engaged and lively photos. If you can shoot with one hand and have the toy in the other, even better.
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While not the easiest, cat photography is so much fun and if you can remember some of these tips, you’ll be able to start capturing beautiful photos at home.
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