Cat Photos

5 'Purfect' Tips for Photographers

Written by Rachel Sinclair (iPhotography Tutor)

It seems to be that you are either more of a dog person or a cat person… I am actually fascinated by both.

Cats have many interesting and intricate behaviours and amazing reflexes. So how do you go about capturing domestic cats in a photograph? Here are my top 5 tips for amazing cat photos.

1. Let Them Judge You

Yes, as soon as you walk into their house they will make their mind up about you. The first few moments are key. Try and keep calm and be quiet, don’t move suddenly or erratically.

Take a seat on a sofa or even the floor and wait for the cat to approach you. It may be friendly and sniff you and rub up against you or it may be wary and stay some distance away.

Don’t let this put you off just stay calm and relaxed. Ask the owner to shut all the doors and any other escape routes from the room you are in and then slowly get your camera out.

You may need to ask the owner to keep getting the cat out from behind the sofa but hopefully, it will stop hiding away soon enough if you keep calm and talk to it in a very soft and low voice.

Once you have gained the cat’s confidence and it seems relatively OK in your presence, it’s time to start taking those cat photos!

iPhotography Guide to Cat Photography Image 1
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Cats are divas so let them be!

Start off your cat photos wherever the animal is. At this stage don’t worry too much about the background or angle, just let the cat get used to you, your camera and your movements. This is the time to get your settings right so you are ready for when the cat is in the right position.

Use those wide apertures to blur the background and make the cat really stand out and don’t forget to use a slightly faster shutter speed just in case the cat moves as you press the shutter.

If you are photographing a black cat you may also like to try spot metering so the camera takes its exposure reading from the black fur rather than the whole scene.

Cat Photos iPhotography Guide to Cat Photography Image 7

Tip – Try to get eye level with the cat if possible and get the cat’s eyes lovely and sharp. Don’t be afraid to try close up shots but remember your framing, don’t clip ears and tails, rather purposefully compose your photos to include those body parts or exclude them

2. Move the Cat into Good Light

You may have to ask the owner to put the cat near a big window, patio doors or even a conservatory, wherever there is the most amount of light.

Try not to use flash as this can freak some cats out and it very rarely looks natural unless it is done really, really well. If the room is on the dark side, turn all the lights and lamps on and then use your white balance to control the colour cast.

Aim to position the cat or indeed yourself so the light is falling on the cat’s chest and at least half of its face.

You may need to become an amateur contortionist to get on the floor in the right position and keep enough distance so as not to scare the cat. Your efforts will pay off though.

iPhotography Guide to Cat Photography Image 2

3. Use Furniture to Your Advantage

Cats often have a favourite spot on the sofa so why not catch some cat photos there too?

If the sofa needs moving, move it closer to the light source (window) and then let the cat get comfy.

Some cats love jumping on TV stands and sideboards. If you can get the cat in front of the TV this can provide you with an instant black background, providing the TV is turned off of course.

Cats eyes can often look amazing against black backgrounds so hone in on those and use some editing software to really make them pop.

4. Cat Treats for the Win!

It’s not only dogs that will do things for treats. If you are struggling to get the cat photo you want, get some treats out and use them in your cat photographs to add interest to your shot.

Close, wide-angle shots can often look very interesting and show the cat from a lower angle.

Just a word of caution though, cats love catnip but it can send some cats really scatty and hyper which may or may not help your cat photography process.

iPhotography Guide to Cats Image 5

5. Go Outdoors

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If the owner has a nice garden and the cat usually sticks around then why not try a few shots outside. Look for some nice plants and position the cat amongst the greenery and other colours.

You could also try more urban looking shots if the garden is more like a yard. Look for interesting things, colours and textures that you could include in your cat portraits. Don’t forget to still consider your background, angle and of course your camera settings.

To be honest, domestic cats photos are not the easiest area of photography but when you nail it you will feel so proud.

So, get out there and practise on your cat or a friend’s cat and don’t forget to post your cat photos in the iPhotography gallery so we can all take a look. Happy snapping!