Hey cat lover! Are you looking for an easy and fun activity to do in the comfort of your own home? Cat photography can be a great way to get creative, have fun, and relieve some of the stress so many people are feeling right now!
All you’ll need are your cat (or cats) and camera. Try experimenting with different lighting effects, taking pictures of your cats in different positions or locations within your home, and adding some special touches to create adorable photos. You’re sure to have a lot of fun taking picturesyou can share with your family or on social media! [Revised March 2023]
None of these cat photo ideas are hard and none of them has a time limit, so you can take your time. The intention is to boost your creative spirits as a cat loving photographer whatever your standard. I revised this post after starting my Mindful Photography book, which I hope to review soon.
See Your Cat In A Different Light
The first of my cat photo ideas lets you work with what you have. Light. Take a series of cat portraits over a period of time, maybe days or weeks. Try different times of the day too – evening sunshine, indoor light or even garden snow.
The kind of portrait you will capture depends on your cat’s character but try to capture them doing ordinary things like walking across the floor, looking out of a window, napping in a cosy spot for a closeup.
You will find yourself watching your cat in a new way and seeing how they move, sit and look at you. You might need to check the light settings your camera but don’t put yourself under pressure, have fun. Too dark? Raise the ISO a bit – try 400, then 800. Too light? Lower it or try exploring your exposure settings.
The quality of smartphone images is so high now that there is an official competition for images taken with smartphones: the iPhone Photography Awards.Smartphone Photography the IPPAwards
TIP: Try to support your camera, especially if you use digital zoom on a compact or smartphone, as this magnifies wobble, and aim at a clear composition. This lovely photograph of cafe cats, Connor and Tiger Lily was cropped to focus on their sweet faces.
Experiment with settings for daylight using the AWB (White Balance) setting or button. There are simple settings for sunshine, cloudy days, fluorescent lights, nighttime or flash. This is usually an AWB button or icon – check your manual or online. If you are like me you will take a few ‘orange’ interiors before you realise White Balance can be useful!
- If looking at ‘camera settings’ makes you want to hide under the sofa find Auto and just make a start. Camera confidence is not part of anyone’s genetic make up – everyone learns step by step. What does the ad say? ‘JUST DO IT’!
The One Walk/Room Photo Challenge
I read about counting the number of steps you take between photos in a print camera magazine and it’s a great idea of the cat photo ideas for indoor cats and folks who want to keep busy and moving. The number of steps you take depends on where you can walk.
Shots on a Short Walk
In a house or an apartment? Try this simple and fun challenge. Take 10 steps, look around and think about your surroundings. Is there a cat in view? What impact has your cat made on your living room, or bedroom?
If you are able to get out for a short walk in a garden, do some cat spotting, or count dog walkers! Pace about 30 or 50 steps between shots. As you walk, relax and remember to look around you, take a breath and appreciate what you see – especially if it’s a cat.
Here are some prompts to inspire your photo thinking:
- Stand in the middle of your chosen room or location and look around you. Inside you might ask what mark has your cat made on your life? Anything from the frayed edge of a cat bed (texture) so the loving chewed cat toy (real life!) is fair game for inventive shots. Outside, you see the world we and our cats live in.
- Does your cat have a favourite indoor or garden spot? Can you see any partly hidden cat toys? Take photos of toys, your cat’s Bird TV view.
- Get down at ground level and take photos from cat height. Show how your cat sees the counter, table or sofa.
- Take close-ups of your cat if the accept you getting close. Eye, nose, markings, fur texture.
Try A Technique or Software New To You
If you’ve been taking the same kind of photos for a while, why not try something new? Use your time at home to explore different photographic and editing techniques.
With no pressure or expectations, you can discover different ways to take photographs. Don’t like what you create with one technique or with one software app? Move on to something else!
- Try black and white photography. Monochrome encourages you to look in a different way and can make your cat look amazing. I did not think black and white did much until I started taking photos, then I won a major prize for a black and white photo and began to respect the style much more.
- Use a different mode if you have a DSLR – AV (Nikon A) is great for action shots and check how you might change your settings.
- Take a portrait. If it is something you have never done check out the superb photos of New Zealand photographer Jo Moore. Her showcase will inspire you with its poses, character studies and inspiring quality.
- Add a filter to an image and see it transformed into something amazing.
- Find one setting you don’t know and try it.
Spend Time Editing Your Cat Photos
If you don’t want to take photos, or the mood isn’t right, why don’t you relax and work with the images you already have. Edit photos and spend time exploring your editing program or app.
Look at any menus and filters you are unfamiliar with such as Filters, Effects, Layers. Then give yourself permission to play and do silly things.
- Discover what the clone tool or inpainting brush do in your photo program.
- Find out how to straighten photos so the horizon is level.
- Explore contrast, white balance, saturation and sharpening tools through online videos and tutorials.
- I found a free Lightroom course (if you already subscribe to Adobe)
- Affinity Photo has a free course to boost your basic skills.
- Explore online photo editors like Lunapic and see how your digital photos can be transformed.
Organise Your Photos
For smartphone photographers you can keep your cat photos organised with our colleague and Instagram influencer Manny the Halloween Cat and his Mom. Their guest post is packed with sensible and useful advice.
Take time to review the photographs on your hard drive, and any external drives you might have. Organise the photos into folders you will find useful. Give them labels like Cat Shows, Kitten Pictures, or Sponsor’s Images. Remove any photos you don’t want to keep and, if you are not sure about deleting an image, create a ‘Not Sure’ folder. This can be a valuable safety net if you really can’t make up your mind. Then you can feel virtuous after all your work because you will be able to find any photo you want fast.
OK so which idea will you try next? Filters are fun, but light can dazzle!
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can create impressive cat photographs and fun movies with the camera they carry.
She is a Professional Member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.