As an aspiring pet photographer I’ve picked up so many tips on how to photograph pets and would like to share some with you.
Before I continue, I only have experience of photographing my own cat and so I have to say that it’s not that difficult to take photos of Athena. Most times she is a willing model. However, I am still learning and enjoying the process of educating myself about all types of photography, not just pet photography.
As cat lovers, we have to remember that maybe not all cats are comfortable in front of the camera, but most do love attention so it’s a good idea to make some preparations before a shoot just to make it a little easier for your cat, and of course for yourself!
Anyway, these tips work for me, and if you are looking to improve your cat photography, I hope they work for you too.
MAKE SURE YOUR CAT IS IN A CALM MOOD before you begin a photo shoot. The best time to snap is while your cat is resting, just before nodding off. Likewise, I’ve managed to catch some great dreamy shots of my cat Athena as she is just waking up, like this one.
DON’T FORCE YOUR CAT. Wait until the right moment – after all, it’s not fair to tire your fur baby out. Luckily, Athena is a natural (when she wants to be!) and I can get some great shots in a very short space of time without tiring her (or boring her). She does play to the camera a lot, which has helped me come up with some terrific shots which showcase different sides of her character, such as this one:
DO NOT USE THE FLASH as this scares your kitty. Also, the eyes, which should be your focus, won’t come out well and you could end up with a photo of the cat from hell staring back at you. If you are taking photos of your cat indoors make sure you make the most of the daylight hours so then you won’t need to enable the flash. Having the light streaming in from the side of your cat ‘s face and catching her eyes can make for some really beautiful shots. We have a large patio door in our living room and this is the perfect spot to snap Athena when she’s resting or when she awakes. The light there really works well, especially during the early part of the day when the sun isn’t so strong on that side of the house.
GET DOWN ON YOUR CAT’S LEVEL. I’ve taken some of my best photos whilst crouching down to Athena’s level. like this one, with her seated on the back of the sofa. It all changes the perspective and makes her look like the goddess she is!
FOCUS ON THE EYES. First of all, they are the windows of the soul. Second, cats have the most beautiful eyes. And third, well, as with taking photos of humans, if the eyes are unfocused then the photo appears lifeless, especially in portraits.
MAKE SURE YOUR CAT’S FACE IS CLEAN (yes, cats are clean but sometimes a close up shot can reveal what’s not that clearly visible to the naked eye). I like to get in close and fill as much of the frame possible with the cat, as you can see because she has the most expressive eyes and impressive tiger-like markings. But I always check to see if her eyes are clean when planning a shoot.
IF YOU CAN’T HOLD YOUR CAT’S ATTENTION, dangle a toy above the camera and out of shot to make the cat look up as you can get lovely shots like this.
PRACTICE.PRACTICE. PRACTICE. Remember, you will need to take lots and lots of photos to get just a few great ones. Even professional photographers have to do that. Best thing to do is get to know your camera and experiment! You don’t need a very expensive camera (as I’ve already shown). What I do advise you to do however, is no matter what camera you are using, take time to read the manual and learn about all your camera’s settings. If you are using a point and shoot or DSLR, Auto mode may be good at firstwhen getting to know your camera, but it’s best to switch to a more manual setting. I tend to use Aperture Priority (AV for Canon) the most.
If you have any other tips you would like to share than please do in the comments below 🙂