Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Creative Angles for Purrfect Cat Photos

To capture unique and eye catching photos of your cat, it’s useful to break away from the traditional “point and shoot” mentality. Instead, try experimenting with closeups and unusual angles to add interest to your cat photos and capture your viewer’s heart. As we celebrate Photography Month this May, let’s all challenge ourselves to think outside the usual ‘snapshots’ and capture our cats in fun ways.

Start by thinking how you can get creative with the camera angles you use in your photography. with each cat photo you take. Have fun with different camera angles. Some of your images will not succeed but others will delight you.

What do I mean by shooting ‘angles’?

For low, think lower with a sharper upward tilt. For close, think closer and capture your cat’s eyes. Don’t just go down a little bit, kneel down or even lie down on the carpet and start taking photos. Since my motorbike accident some years ago, kneeling on my left knee is harder and sometimes I end up sat on the ground but the trick is to be fearless and pretend you meant to do it anyway!

Let me start with a image familiar to many readers. My award winning photo of Chenzou which was taken sat down at ground level on a visit to the cat cafe.

Award winning portrait of Chenzou cafe cat in 2019 at Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe
Chenzou – Ground shot

Angles means more than pointing the camera lens on your DSLR, compact or your smartphone and thinking ‘that’s it’. Think about these ideas.

Look Upwards

Make the most of your camera’s zoom lens to get closer to your cat if they are sat high on a branch, shelf or other high place. Move closer and tilt your camera back further than you might feel is comfortable with. See what happens to your cat photos.

When you use digitl zoom you will need to keep your digital zoom steady. The zoom can look really good but the slightest movement is amplified and might cuse blurring as you shoot. If you need to use digital zoom then stabilise your camera against something, or brace your posture. Take a calming breath before you shoot if you feel nervous or shaky.

Honey a tabby cat poses looking upwards
Honey – DSLR Lens Raised

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Cat Climbing a tree. Adventure cat.
Natasha – Compact Camera Pointing Upwards

Empower Your Cat Blog Post About Looking Upwards

Looking Downwards

Photographers are advised not to shoot down at their subjects. A high angled shot, for human portraits, diminishes your model making them look smaller but, the ‘looking down rule’ doesn’t always apply to cats. As I write in this post, cats can often tell a story, fill the frame or simply blow you away with their character while you point the camera down and break the rules.

This is often the only angle people use, which is frustrating and must give your cat a stiff neck after a while. Remember that you have the option to bend over a little or sit on a chair to get lower and hold the camera even lower (if you are not flexible enough to move). You can even hold a smartphone or compact upside down and then rotate the picture in your software editor later.

A cat looking upwards at the camera
Fang – Cat Cafe – Camera Pointing Down

Angles Around Your Cat

People ‘point and shoot’. It’s how the popular compact cameras got their name and why we love using smartphones too. They are easy to use and ‘click’ you have an image, but this post is about encouraging you to think differently and prowl around your cat. Not just at eye level but using different camera angles to capture a fun shot.

  • As well as the front, shoot the back you may have a chance to move to the side and capture a lovely profile shot
  • You can take a photo of your cat’s back, or catch flattering angles with them looking backwards with an ‘over the shoulder’ shot.

Remember that your cat’s personality is not just appealing eyes and whiskers. If you have ever been presented with the ‘back of disapproval’ by your cat, you know what I mean. There can be so much annoyance in one set of small cat shoulders. This shot of Teddy was a lucky one and one I really like.

Tuxedo cat in a plant pot
Teddy – Over the Shoulder Shot
A visiting tabby cat
Dory Side Shot – DSLR

A favourite cat page of ours on Instagram. Full of inventive photography BadassBengals

Think Outside Your Usual Shooting Space

These may not be your sharpest photos but they maybe be some of your silliest and most fun shots. These photographs can range from the fuzzy nose boop, to a cat being much further away than expected. This second option might give you a chance to try a weird or different shot that is outside your usual shooting mindset. Don’t judge your photo until later and keep away from the delete button.

Here’s an unusual shooting idea. This image of Teddy on the wall looking at the bird feeder is much further away than I like to be but, to take the photo, without disturbing his concentration, or the birds I had to grab my smartphone and lift it slowly to frame the shot.

Tuxedo cat watching birds, while he is sat on a wall
Teddy Bird Watching – Smartphone

Garden and Adventure Cats

For those of you with a garden or who take your cats hiking, the scale of everything changes relative to your adventurous feline. Trees can seem huge and shrubs can be much taller than your cat. On the positive side, exterior shooting gives you some fun opportunities to play with depth of field and get used to changing your F stops on a DSLR/mirrorless camera. Here’s a quick tip of which F stop is which (because I always forget).

graphic to remind photographers about shallow and deep depth of field.
  • If you want the whole photograph, say a cat posed in a place you also want to capture, then try more deep focus like f11.
  • A shallow depth of field that frames your cat outdoors surrounded by foliage, or near a waterfall try f2.8.

Again, you have the chance to explore different angles to see what happens but, be patient as your cat is probably having so much fun hiking the trail or exploring that they may not want to stop until they are ready. If you just want to relax as well as have some fun with quick worry-free shots, use Aperture Priority [Canon Av/Nikon A] or ‘sport’ mode for running shots, but use manual if you are confident.

Tuxedo cat head and shoulders portrait.
Thomas – DSLR

This is a favourite outside shot of Thomas on a garden fence with a shallow depth of field. I was pointing my camera upwards which means there is no garden clutter or foliage around him, just a soft focus background of foliage. Remember that many smartphones can recreate the bokeh effect using apps that are appearing and improving almost daily.

Lighting Your Angles

You don’t need perfect light for your cat photos. You can use bright light and shadows for creative effects and you don’t need to be an expert at anything.

With a higher ISO and a DSLR you can shoot in much darker areas, experiment to see what work best for you. You will find that your camera will focus on the light and makes your shadows very deep. The effects can look gorgeous, like this image of Connor the Neko Ngeru cat cafe tabby (retired). The photograph was taken at ground level with sunlight coming in from a skylight. My hardest job was waiting for Connor to look upwards.

Connor Cat in sunlight
Connor, Professor Cat (Retired) DSLR – Strong Light

You can play with light and angles using your smartphone too. this is not something that needs fancy equipment or skills. Smartphones can surprise us with their ability to take photographs in quite dim light.

This photograph of Toulouse you have seen before and it is the most effective proof that a reasonably modern smartphone is a great photographic tool. If you don’t remember, it was almost bed time and Toulouse was high up on the cat tower lit only by a single night light. I help up my smartphone and tried my best to frame the shot – it worked.

I know that every one of my readers can do something similar.

Cat posing in dim light
Toulouse – Smartphone Low Light

11 thoughts on “Creative Angles for Purrfect Cat Photos”

  1. Love angle shots! My goodness, what gorgeous models you have there! Honey’s pic is stunning, and Thomas reminds me so much of my feral boy we had, Binx. Beautiful tuxedo. And Teddy, well, I’m still chuckling over that pic! Loved them all! These tips will work wonderful for dogs, too! Pinning to share!

    Reply
  2. Marjorie, you’ve become quite an accomplished cat photographer! Your tips can all be applied to dogs or other pets which is why I love them all. All these pics are stunning, but that one of Honey – oh my goodness, it’s spectacular! I actually like when I get photographed from above because that angle can make a person look slighter thinner LOL!!

    Reply
  3. Absolutely brilliant tips, Marjorie! I never realized that when you zoom in it can amplify any unsteadiness. That certainly explains a lot. I will brace myself from now on when I zoom in on Henry.

    I always have so many ideas running through my mind for shots I want to try after reading your articles. This one has me on overdrive. Super inspiring!

    I love how you explain the technique or tip and then show it in a photo so it all comes together. The backyard photo of Teddy has me thinking of different ideas for Henry. Genius!

    Your photos are so gorgeous. You really should put them in a book someday. Or even a calendar. Truly lovely! I’m sharing these tips with all my pet parents!

    Reply
  4. Great tips and photos as always, you plant so many seeds in my head when it comes to photographing Layla

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  5. I love all the photos. My favorite is the one with Toulouse with the nightlight. The angle and lighting really accentuates his grin. I love Fang’s close-up angle and Connor’s picture really shows his confidence from that side angle. Thanks for sharing all these tips. I especially like the idea of using your smartphone with the best angle you can manage and just “rotating” the image afterward if needed.

    Reply
  6. Bad knee on the right, bad ankle on the left ~ but I so agree with you! Angles make such a difference, and are so fun and creative when it comes to cats. Something catches their eyes and then you catch theirs! From up, down or sideways if you can. Great post, with great and helpful details on the “how to’s” and of course, great photos to show results of ones/your efforts.

    Reply
  7. Wow, those are some awesome — and abundant — tips, Marjorie! Thank you for sharing your knowledge (and beautiful photos) with us.

    Reply
  8. Those are all such fun ones with such beautiful kitties. Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

    Reply

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