Written by Marjorie Dawson

Five Top Cat Photography Tips To Dazzle Your Friends

Five Top Cat Photography Tips To Dazzle Your Friends

When you grab your DSLR or your smartphone to take a good cat photo, what to you check first? The light? Your exposure? Switch on ‘Portrait’ mode on your ‘phone? Or do you just point and hope for the best?

You can amp up your photo skills fast by giving yourself a single idea or intention to focus on. Let me share some quick tips so you can check out which one fits your needs the best so you can make the best impression.

These cat photography tips will become natural over time, what you need is to do try them out one by one. Let’s get started.

1. Closeup Cat Portraits Stun Your Friends

People stay too far away from their cats when they take photos so get close and get low. The same applies to puppies and bearded dragons. Eye level with your pet is immediate and intimate.

Unless you have a confident cat who is comfortable with you and your camera, try a kit lens to zoom or a lens like the Canon 55mm-250mm. You can get in close without intimidating your subject. Another idea is taking lots of photos until your cat get used to the shutter noise. This worked for me and now my cats ignore the shutter or, one or two strike a pose (yes, seriously).

  • TIP Neutral and uncluttered backgrounds help spotlight your cat too.
Five Top Cat Photography Tips For Your DSLR
Beth at the Cat Cafe
Sam The Ginger Cat Looks to the Light
Sam the Ginger. A former foster.

2. Natural Light Loves Your Cat

Indoor and outdoor cats really come alive in what we call ‘natural’ light.

The perfect light for taking photos is a bright but cloudy day. These happen a lot more than you think and soften shadows that are harsh and unforgiving in bright mid day sunshine. For great shots choose a location near a window, in a sun room/catio, or out in the garden. These will let your cat fur shine and makes them look so much better.

Autumn Cat Posing for Blog
Toulouse the Tabby out in the autumn fresh air

3. Continuous Shooting Mode Captures Your Cat

Continuous Shooting Mode [Continuous-servo AF (AF-C) for a Nikon] tracks and focuses on your cat much better than you or I ever could using manual. To start, press the shutter halfway down to engage the autofocus then, as you follow your cat the camera starts measuring where your cat is and keeps it in focus.

You can concentrate on keeping your cat in the frame which will be enough of a challenge. So, let your camera help you out.

Excietement and action in this cat photograph taken with a Canon 1300D DSLR
Connor from Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe (retired)

4. Auto Focus Points Get Pin Sharp Photos

On a DSLR (or mirrorless) camera you might aleady have set up what are called focus points. This is a series of dots or marks that allow you to focus on a specific point with your camera. Your manual will tell you how to change these if you want to but for new camera users (and the one I use most) is the central focus point. This allows you to point the central mark at a cat’s eye (or the eye closest to you) and get it in focus. Get the eye sharp and people forgive you a lot.

Focus Dots as seen in a camera viewfinder
Focus Dots seen through a camera lens

5. Learn About Your Shutter Speeds

Finally, a longer cat photography tip but one that will repay exploration. Learning about shutter speeds is a great way to boost your personal photo confidence, and it certainly helped me when I took my first cat photos.

You can explore what happens when you change the amount of time your camera’s shutter remains open by playing with camera modes like Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. Be prepared to make lots of mistakes and discover lots of cool things,

These are the modes most cameras work in:

  • Automatic Mode, P or A – where the shutter speed is caculated for you. This is great for a beginner because you take clear photographs from the start.
  • Aperture Priority Av/A– changes your shutter speed but lets you adjust aperture. I take a lot of my cat photos this way it’s a great first step.
  • Shutter Priority Tv/S – you choose the shutter speed and the camera selects your aperture. I am slowly getting to grips with this – it’s my bugbear and I don’t know why!
  • Manual – you select shutter speed and aperture yourself. Don’t start with this unless you have an experienced photographer buddy who you can refer to for advice. Manual may be the ‘way to go’ for some photographers but none of them have just picked up a new DSLR or mirrorless camera.

Shutter speed is written in seconds or a fraction of a second. For example, a 1-second shutter speed is typically displayed as a single number with a quote sign or a letter “s” at the end of it, such as 1? or 1s. Whereas a fraction of a second such as 1/250 is typically displayed as 1/250 or simply 250 on most cameras.

Recommended post at Photography Life.

SUPER TIP: Be Brave Try Anything
and Keep Your Camera Lens Clean!

Creative Photography Quote

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Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.

She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.

14 thoughts on “Five Top Cat Photography Tips To Dazzle Your Friends”

  1. totally awesome photos….my iphone has an autofocus on it, but by the time I remember it; or where it’s at TO use……subject “A” { mackerull } has moved on
    to better things !! 😉

    Reply
  2. Oh, my, sweetness…what wonderful photos of such beautiful kitties! I love the close-ups! A personal fave. You can really see their expression. Just beautiful. I personally loved doing close-up portraits (and action) pics of my FiveSibes! Especially the ones like these where you can see the dimension and emotion in their eyes. <3 Pinning to share with others! Always great pet photo info!

    Reply
  3. I certainly love close-ups–avoid all the clutter and focus on the beauty. Takes some skill, though. Great job on your examples.

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  4. Your photographs and lessons always amaze me, I wish I was as good as you but photographing Layla is difficult sometimes LOL

    Reply
  5. I absolutely LOVE your photos! You always inspire me. And you’re photos remind me of my kitties I’ve had, lost, and loved so dearly. One of these days, I may finally grasp the concept of taking a decent photo. Perhaps it’s the equipment and not all the operator’s fault? I need to find some time to play around a bit. You know, I really do enjoy your photos. You make me think I can do it too. 😊💖

    Reply
  6. Ha ha! I love that final quote! So true! Thanks for sharing these quick and easy tips for better photos. I love the closeups. I just want to kiss their little noses!! These are very nice shots.

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  7. Well I don’t have a DSLR….or a cat lol. But your pictures are lovely, and you inspired me to try getting some cute close up pictures of my pups today 🙂

    Reply
  8. Not sure if I am ready for a DSLR as yet, I still don’t even use my Canon SX40 P&S camera to its fullest abilities, LOL!

    Maybe one day hubby might let me use his, but it is not a digital. He has a digital for his work…but of course that won’t help me one bit, LOL!

    Great tips though. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Those are amazing photos Marjorie! Thanks for the kind words on the passing of our sweet Dolly, we were lucky to have such a happy soul as a part of our family, we sure miss her joyful spirit. I’m doing okay too, just sore and tired. Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

    Reply
  10. Awesome tips, Marjorie. You always do such a wonderful job of making things understandable, so thank you!

    Hope you had a great birthday!

    XO

    Reply

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