Beginner Cat Photo Skills

How To Use Your Own Pet Photos On Your Blog

If you have been relying on stock photography for your cat images or dog snapshots? You might find yourself out of step with Google’s latest algorithm change. They want to see you and your pets on your blog. Visible authenticity is now key for every pet blogger aiming to showcase everything from dog bowls to cat fountains and kitty couture to bespoke leashes. Let’s take a look at a few fast skill boosts you can use to make sure your photos have a touch of quality.

No you don’t need fancy professional photography equipment (but if you have it start learning to use it). Today’s smartphones shoot images of outstanding quality, and many even shoot in RAW format which you can adjust using Affinity Photo, Photoshop or a smartphone app.

  • Bookmark my Camera RAW for Beginners

Better Pet Photos? Try the Rule of Thirds

Let’s start with something you might have heard about, and which can immediately make your photos look more pleasing to your viewers. The Rule of Thirds.

You don’t need to be a slave to this ‘rule’, but it’s a good guide to begin with and when your photos start to improve (which they will) you will gain confidence. Use this as a starting point and, when you feel like it, break the rule and take lots of photos without it. It’s obvious to say this but remember that taking lots of photographs really does help you improve.

The rule of thirds is a principle that states that a photo is most appealing when the points of interest of its subjects are placed along lines which divide the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. 

Beginner’s Guide

The points don’t just indicate good spots to position your cat, they also help you balance your composition. Wherever you are taking your cat’s photo at home try to keep this concept in mind. Here’s an example of how it works. Had Salem the black cat here been in the centre of the fame I would have lost the ‘leading line’ of chairs going towards the back of the cafe.

The rule of thirds demonstrated by a cat photograph.

Points of interest placed in these intersections help your photo become more balanced. They creates tension, energy and interest.

ExpertPhotography.com

Don’t Cut Off Your Cat’s Ears

This is so easy to do. Yes, this applies to dogs as well!

If you are in doubt about your cats position in a frame, pull back a bit. The number of half eared cats I took photos of when I started must run into the zillions so let me save you a lot of frustration. You can always crop closer to you cat later and make the photo look better so give yourself a bit of space around your cat.

This silly photo of Phoebe emphasizes the point ‘stay back’ advice. You think your picture is carefully framed but this happens. Phoebe was not happy to be the victim of such a disaster from her favourite pet photographer. I made up for it later with some cuter shots, honest.

How to Compose Cat Photographs- Don't crop off the ears

What went wrong with my photo?

Here’s a quick analysis of a commn mistake.

Instead of zooming in with my lens, I thought I would be clever and I tried physically to get a bit closer to take the portrait. As you can see I got too close and Phoebe’s ear tips have disappeared. Not my best moment, so don’t make the same mistake.

Maybe she sensed it, from that suspicious look. I am including a successful photograph of Phoebe wth a lot of space to crop closer.

Phoebe from Dash Kitten Dusty Post
Sharp Focus on the Eye(s) is a MUST

Fill The Frame

The frame means the edge of your photograph. Filling it means getting really close to your cat so nothing else is visible. You can do this by zooming with a DSLR, a point and shoot or a smartphone digital zoom – but you need to hold your camera steady.

Digital zooms will magnify every small shake, so support or brace yourself as you shoot. Be brave and fearless and make sure you can’t see anything else but your cat (not even the family member who may be holding it at the time!)

Filling the frame can transform a good photograph into a Cat Writers Association Certificate Winner like our friend and colleague Sweet Purrfections. Taken with an iPhone the camera focuses on the gorgeous Persian face and removes any risk of background distractions. The lesson from this lovely photo? A good eye can improve a photo as much as the latest technology.

Sweet Purrfections Persian cat
IMAGE CREDIT © SweetPurrfections

Know Your Camera Pre-Sets

Digital cameras support the ability to choose among a number of configurations, or modes, for use in different situations. These include Aperture Priority (A/As) Shutter Priority (Tv/S) Landscape, Portrait and Sport (Burst) modes.

Tuts-Plus Full List of Pre-Set Modes

This picture of Sparkle the tortie is completely different, and more successful than my earlier shot of poor Phoebe and uses one of my Canon camera pre-sets (or modes) – Aperture Priority. Yes, the photograph ignores the Rule of Thirds, but it is sharp and clear and Sparkle has two complete ears.

I hope you can see with Sparkle’s photograph, just how effective a pre-set mode can be on a DSLR camera. I always say, never be afraid to turn the dial to A/Av or Tv/S or even something like Portrait or Landscape. Unless you push your camera to the limit you will never know what works for you. I had little time but still managed to achieve a lovely background and a sharply focused cat.

  • Break the rule of thirds when you have good reason too.
Cat Photograph Composition Sparkle the tortie closeup
Sparkle the Tortoiseshell Cat – DSLR AV mode © DashKitten.com

Sparkle’s picture is not edited, although it can be improved (with some sharpening and lightening) but Av mode has given it a lovely soft bokeh background. It is fuzzy and soft focus which doesn’t distract too much from the cat.

The pre-set Av/A in particular can really soften your background which is useful when you can’t avoid photographing a room or location that is be busy or untidy. Smartphones now include a portrait mode that gives you a faux bokeh effect and there are dozens of free and paid apps that create the effect if you need it.

  • I zoomed in as much as I could and left the rest to the camera. I had just moments to take the picture – it worked.

TOP TIP: If you are worried about adjusting camera settings and composing pictures at the same time, set your camera to AUTO or pre-set AV/A mode and concentrate on composing your photo. The composition practice you do helps you develop an eye for what works and what doesn’t.

Always give your camera modes a try – they might surprise you especially as a newbie.

Sometimes Blurry Happens

As I take lots of closer cat pictures I leave my camera in Av/A mode most of the time but this next picture is not composed and definitely does not have not in the right settings. Honestly? You will find the same thing with your pet images! Blurry happens but it’s is not the end of the world for your photoshoot. In my photo, Miranda was leaping a gap nearly 2.5 metres (8 ft.) wide so I felt blurry worked and this is an important point to remember.

If you have a pet and a product that needs movement, or action photography then sometimes your leaping fuzzy feline or blurred dog chase tells a story more effectively than a cat posing or a dog in a calm drop pose. It sends a message of a pet enjoying life at a fast pace. See how much you can capture and be prepared to delete a lot of failures but you will grab a successful action shot.

Moving composition Miranda the Leaping Cat

Blog Photography Resources

33 thoughts on “How To Use Your Own Pet Photos On Your Blog”

  1. Always great tips. As a photographer, composition has always been so important to me. I see a lot of posts these days where folks do not take notice of the background and composition is out the window! Pinning to share!

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  2. Excellent pet photography advice. Indeed, a lot can go wrong with pet photos, and yet one can quickly learn to create better memories.

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  3. Thanks for sharing these tips. I never knew about the rule of thirds. Yep! I’m guilty of chopping off my cat’s ears when taking photos. It’s always a good candid one too! Go figure. I’ll remember with my fosters to fill up the frame and avoid cutting off the tips of the ears next time!

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    • You can get in really close for an eyes and nose shot or give those ears plenty of space, or end up with a grumpy cat like Phoebe!

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  4. Great post and I always chop off some part of Layla LOL but am learning from you and hopefully one day I will get it perfect, thanks for the blog hop

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  5. Though I don’t always abide by it, I love using the rule of thirds. It’s such a simple one (not that it is always easy)! I love your second photo of Pheobe. She is such a beautiful kitty! She is right to want her ears fully in the frame. I have to remind myself to get Manna and Dexter’s ears fully in the frame sometimes too. Their eyes can be so captivating that I forget about the rest of the shot.
    -Purrs from your friends at http://www.PlayfulKitty.net

    Reply
  6. I love how you have Paula’s sweet fur kid’s photo in your article. Such a beautiful idea to have a selfie tribute for Paula.

    Can you believe, I’ve actually heard of the rule of thirds? You know when I use it, I always get a better photo. I need to remember it more.

    Terrific article, always!

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  7. Sometimes…well actually a lot…I make those same mistakes, but the most annoying ones to me are when my subjects have stuff ‘growing’ out their heads…that’s why I like the portrait mode, because then those are more blurred and not so visible.

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  8. Love your photos and the tips are all great. I’ve experienced the missed ear tip thing on pictures I otherwise like; either i just missed it or kitty moved slightly …

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    • Yes, and my other biggest failing is getting too close. I forget to look at my smartphone screen to see if the image is sharp!

      Reply
  9. Your photos are all wonderful and so are your tips, really cool. Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

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  10. guyz…..de gurl onlee haza eye phone for foto takin…knot sure sum oh theez
    tipz would werk… but we N joyed reedin bout them …thanx for sharin 🙂

    Reply
  11. I always thought I had to get a complete photo of the girls but I ended up with a lot of background stuff I didn’t need or want. I learned about close up photos last year at CWA when talking to Yassar from Chirpy Cats. Thank you for sharing our photo.

    Reply
  12. I like the tips about composition, and it seems I have a different idea about what makes a great picture. I took a very basic beginners photography course a couple of years ago, and an assignment was to go out and take macro pictures. The ones I thought were amazing the teacher didn’t think the composition was good, the ones I didn’t like were his favourite in terms of composition. Go figure!

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    • Now that would challenge me. I know what I like and what I hope my readers will enjoy but there is the third, expert, opinion isn’t there.

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  13. Err … composition? Like in school when you write an essay? Haha. I can’t say I’d know better 🙂 I just don’t have THE EYE.

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  14. Confession time: sometimes I cut off the ears to erase something unappealing in the background, but I can’t trash the picture because the facial expression is so darn cute!

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  15. The rule of thirds is a good tip. The line of chairs makes such a difference to the photo. Miranda’s photo reminds me of one I once took of Flynn. I had been trying for months to get a photo of him catching a mouse and I got one of him mid leap showing the bend of his body in mid air as he was coming to land on his prey. I have to admit the shot was more luck than judgement though.

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  16. My human breaks the rules sometimes… but that’s only because she knows them. You have to know the rules and why they are there, and know how to use them before you can start going rogue, so to speak!

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  17. Its always good to remember the rule of thirds! And that photo of Sparkle the Tortie is simply lovely. 🙂

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  18. Mom ALWAYS cuts off my ears! The best pictures of me these days are the ones my human brother takes. My Mom is really a terrible photographer.
    Purrs
    Marv

    Reply

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