Have you ever struggled to take a decent photo of your cat?
Ever wondered how some people get the perfect photos every time . . .
. . . while all you seem to get is lots of blurred photos of your cats backside?
Frustrating isn’t it.
But what if I told you I could dramatically improve your photography with a few easy tips.
Tips that will instantly get you the photos you need.
Tips that will make you a feline paparazzi pro.
Tips that will not cost you anything but the time it takes to read this article. (11 minutes I timed myself)
Learn the best techniques for taking photographs of your cat.
So let me start with the basics:
Act Like a Magician and Get Yourself an Assistant
Your ideal photo-shoot will include an assistant. In fact I would go as far to say that without one you are going to really struggle.
Sometimes it’s hard enough to get to grips with the camera never mind getting your cat to co-operate.
And by the way you absolutely need your cat to co-operate. Sound impossible? Bear with me, I’ll explain how in a minute.
For now just trust me when I say that two heads are better than one. Get yourself an assistant.
Remember that no matter how difficult or frustrating your photo-shoot gets . . . don’t take it out on your assistant!
You need their help. Be nice to them.
Now you have some help let me show you why size does matter when taking photos of your cat.
Learn the 2 Q’s and Get Yourself a Big Memory Card
In the case of photography . . .
Especially when talking about cat photography.
There are two tips that will help you above all others. Here’s the first.
The two Q’s - Quantity gets you Quality.
Take plenty of photos. Take as many as you can. Then take some more.
This is where a large memory card comes in handy.
Keep clicking away. You can always hit delete and the rubbish photos never have to see the light of day.
My second tip won’t cost you a single penny, will save you time and will also give you stunning photos . . . but more about that in a minute.
Carry Your Camera With You All The Time
If you want to get some photos of your cat then you need to have your camera within reach and ready to go.
Either carry your camera with you and have it ready.
Or another way is to use your mobile phone. Easier to have ready and quick to access when that unexpected photo opportunity arises. Many high end phones have decent cameras built in these days.
The only problem using a mobile phone is when you need to rely on a flash. But to be honest my advice would be to avoid using a flash on any type of camera.
Here’s what to do instead.
Don’t be a Flasher Use Natural Lighting Instead
I said that there are two tips above all others that will help with your photography. I’ve already told you about the two Q’s and buying a big memory card. My second tip will cost you nothing but the rewards are huge.
Use natural daylight. It’s free. So fill your boots and use as much of it as you can.
If you have an indoor cat then open your curtains as wide as possible. Let as much sunlight as you can into the room.
Stand or sit in with your back to the window and take your photos with the natural daylight shining from behind you.
If you are taking photos outside then just put your back to the sun and snap away.
I guarantee you will get far better photos this way. You won’t need a flash and you will avoid the problem of overexposure and red eye (or yellowy green eye in the case of cats).
Additionally your cameras shutter will move faster with all the extra light which will allow you take more photos in quick succession and also reduce the amount of blurred and out of focus photos you take.
Set The Stage: Get Professional Looking Photos of Your Cat
If you want a studio type photo of your cat then you will need to go the extra mile and set the stage. Just as a professional photographer would.
You don’t need any special equipment, you can do this easily by draping a plain piece of material or a blanket over your settee. Make sure the colour contrasts your cats coat. Light blue seems to work well with all my cats.
Put your cat on a plain background and make them the center of attention on the photo.
Pro Tip: Turn a good photograph into great photograph with the use of a few props. A toy or even a flower can turn your photo into a masterpiece.
Sometimes though you might prefer to go for a less posed photo. A word of warning though.
If you want a more natural setting for your photo then don’t make the fatal error of only having eyes for your cat. Here’s what I mean.
Pay Attention to the Background: Think Bigger Picture
I once spent an afternoon photographing a litter of kittens. I must have spent a couple of hours getting the perfect shots of each and every kitten.
A litter I was very proud of.
A litter I could not wait to get on my website.
A litter that once the photos hit Facebook was sure to go viral. I mean I was convinced there was a serious possibility that I was going to crash the Facebook servers.
This was just how amazing my kittens were.
How superb my photography skills were.
But I had made a whopping mistake.
A mistake that caused huge embarrassment. A mistake that my wife made me suffer for. A mistake I learned never to make again.
Don’t let yourself be blind to the bigger picture. Don’t get completely focused on just your cat. Don’t forget to pay attention to everything that you have photographed.
This includes anything dangling off the radiator.
A tough lesson. One that I will never (be allowed to) forget.
Another lesson I learned the hard way was my cats work on their own timetable and could not care less about my schedule. Let me explain.
Choose Your Moment - Be Patient, Slowly, Slowly Catchy
If you want a stress free photo-shoot and amazing photos of your cat.
Then you need to understand that timing is everything. Here’s what I mean.
Would you prefer to do things on your own timetable and start taking photos when it suits you? Or would you prefer to take photos that you can actually use?
Sometimes your cat is in the mood to play. Sometimes your cat is in the mood to run about the house like a deranged lunatic pumped full of go faster juice. And sometimes your cat is the mood for quiet leave me the hell alone time.
Pay attention to what type of mood your cat is in and choose your moment accordingly.
If you want to take decent photos of your cat then you need to catch them when they are at their most co-operative. (hint: when they are not pumped full of go faster juice or in leave me the hell alone mood)
I find the best time is when they have just eaten, groomed themselves and are settling down for a quick nap. Alternatively you can go to the other extreme and catch them when they are just waking up from a nap.
Anytime in-between and you are on shaky ground.
Bide your time and catch them when they are not in full blown lunatic mode.
If biding your time is not an option why no try something a bit more devious . . .
Sneak Attacks, Distractions and the Mighty Zoom
In addition to being patient you can also be sneaky. To outwit a cat you are going to have to be low down rattlesnake sneaky. This is shoes of, on tip toes with camera at the ready and catch them totally unaware with a surprise sneak attack.
Takes a little practice but worth the effort. (and it’s good fun too)
Another underhand trick is to use distractions. Teaser sticks, treats, the rattle of the food box, rustling of paper, clicking of fingers or high pitched baby talk all seem to work well. This is where your assistant will earn their stripes.
One tip, don’t get your cat too excited with your distractions and teasing. Just use your bag of tricks to distract them from whatever it is they are doing and enable you the opportunity to capture a few quick photos.
Here’s another of my favourite tricks.
Become a sniper and use the zoom on your camera. Depending on the length of the focus you can happily sit well away from your cat and zoom in to capture the action without disturbing their fun. Often this can be the very best way to get photos of your cat.
Sometimes the best way to get them to do what you want is to set a cunning trap. Here’s how.
Use Their Curiosity to Spring a Trap
Cats are incredibly curious. Actually if truth be known they are just plain nosy.
So use this to your advantage.
Put a cardboard box down and you can guarantee they will investigate. They will proceed with a quick game of hide and seek (even when they are on their own). Then after a little while will settle down for a quick nap.
Your cunning trap is sprung. Now leap into action and get your photos.
Use your cats curiosity against them and sit back and wait. Your patience will be rewarded.
If you don’t have time to sit back and wait try baiting your trap. It’s easy to do, let me show you how.
Treats, Teaser Sticks and Toys
This one never fails. Try using a favourite treat or toy as bait.
Strategically place the bait in front of a suitable background. Remember the natural daylight tip and you will be good to go.
Okay I know that I said it never fails but if on a very rare occasion it ‘takes a little longer’ than you would expect . . .
. . . bring out the big guns and take it to the next level.
Use a teaser stick.
Time for your assistant to show their metal. They need to play with your cat (by play I mean mercilessly tease your cat) with the teaser stick. Swish is about and without doubt you will have their full attention.
Gently guide them over to your carefully prepared trap by slowly moving the toy closer and closer. Think carrot on a stick.
Once you have them in location keep the stick just out of shot (or don’t) and start snapping away.
Don’t get carried away with the teasing (even though it is great fun) as it is a means to an end. No need to drive them into a frenzy. Just use it to distract them and get them to co-operate.
You Can't Force it . . . Know When to Quit
Occasionally your cat will just completely refuse to co-operate. Usually this is because the photographer has had a stupid idea and your cat has more sense (or self respect).
Imagine somebody asked you to dress up in an embarrassing costume or wear a silly hat for a photograph. I bet you would politely decline the invitation.
Or picture this . . .
You are asked to sit next to a baby who keep grabbing your tail, poking you in the eye or trying to suck your face. I guarantee you would not put up with it for long either.
Well guess what? Neither will your cat.
If you find your cat refuses to play ball then listen to them. You can’t force it. Try something different.
Give Them a Break
Sometimes you have to know when to call it a day. Or at the very least when to have a break.
Your cat can be bribed, tricked and distracted into co-operation for only so long.
Sooner or later . . .
. . . they will have had a enough.
They will be bored, tired, hungry or just hacked off.
When this happens there is no point in fighting it. Just give them a break.
Remember the proverb: 'He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day'
Try again after a short break and try and finish up your photo shoot when everyone has had a rest.
Okay, I have given you plenty of tips on getting your cat to co-operate, here’s a few on tricks for taking photos of your cat.
Get on Their Eye Level
A very simple but effective tip is to take your photos while you are at your cats eye level.
There is nothing worse than dozens of photos of the top of your cats head with your feet in every shot.
Instead get down to their level or take photos with your cat off the floor.
(I find that actually getting slightly below eye level is even better.)
In addition to keeping your feet out every single shot you will also get photos of your cats face . . .
. . . which after all is really what brings your photos to life.
Here’s something else you need to remember.
Photograph Your Cat and Not Your Furniture
A mistake I have seen any time before is when people use a point and shoot camera and don’t zoom in on their cat.
Much as I am sure they are very proud of their living room furniture I am sure their intention was to take a photo of their cat.
Make your cat the central focus of your photograph. Try and fill as much of the frame as possible with your cat.
Focus on your cats eyes. If you get the eyes in focus nobody will notice if another part of the cat is slightly blurred.
Here’s another tip that can make or break a decent photo.
Avoid the Green Eyed Monster
Sometimes you have to use a flash. It could be because of poor lighting. Or it could be because your camera or phone has an inbuilt flash and you have no idea how to turn it off.
If you are using an SLR camera then my advice is use a top mounted external flash with a diffuser. This will prevent red or yellow/green eye.
If you are using a point and shoot camera or a phone and you need to diffuse the light then try this trick.
Take a cigarette paper (Rizla paper) and wet it and stick directly over the flash (without blocking the lense). This will diffuse the light and enable you to get set up quickly at virtually zero expense.
Using a diffuser (even a home made one) will help prevent your photos from being over exposed.
If you like this sneaky little trick then you will be pleased to know that it is also perfectly acceptable to completely cheat should the need arise. Let me explain.
It's Okay to Cheat
Have you ever taken the perfectly posed photo to only discover the settings on your camera have made the photo useless?
Rather annoying isn’t it.
But I have a solution. Four words that if you are anything like me will be music to your ears.
It’s okay to cheat.
It’s okay to crop your photos. It’s okay to adjust the brightness, contrast and colour. If you can fix it then fix it.
You don’t need fancy editing software. There are free online editing solutions available on sites such as http://www.fotor.com/ or http://ipiccy.com/.
It has to be worth a try and lets face it nobody will ever know the difference.
Become a Pro Cat Photographer
I think I have covered all the bases. (If I’ve missed any then please let me know in the comments)
You now have all the tips, tricks and photography know how to make your next photo shoot as easy as pie.
I want you to use the tips I have taught you.
The tricks I have given you.
I even want you to cheat if you have to.
But most of all . . .
I want you to take the most amazing photos of your cats and kittens.
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