This is one of the challenges for anyone taking photographs of cats. Getting your cat to sit still, or move the way you want to for a photoshoot can be frustrating. How do you even start so you can take awesome photos? How to you convince your cat to cooperate?
You can get a cat to pose for close-ups, or any other shots you want to take at home so don’t give up. It takes patience and a few tricks, so let me share my favourite cat and camera tips.
How Do I Take Cat Photos I Will Love?
I am guessing that you, like me, love to take your own photographs. So let’s see how we can all take better cat pictures by convincing you that it is something you can do before you become frustrated at what you think is a lack of skill.
A professional cat photographer will have a great camera, lots of lenses and a tripod. You, as a beginner photographer, will have less equipment but you have one big advantage over the pros. You know your cat’s quirks and habits and the kind of pose it adopts regularly. YOu and your camera travel light. Use your intimate cat knowledge to work out what kind of pictures you will be able to take. Portraits can be formal or informal.
- Does your cat yell a lot like our Dot Kitten is in her photos?
- Does your cat have a quirky walk, or look over their shoulder at you?
- Does your cat love to pose or have a unique mannerism?
TIP: Before you dive in, check your manual for anything that might help you. Check close-up mode, burst or sport mode for activity, and exposure so your pictures aren’t too dark or light.
My first tip is the most important. I know it works for me and has allowed me to capture some of my best images. It is worth spending time with this before you undertake a bigger project.
Get Your Cat Comfortable to Being Photographed
When I first got my DSLR camera the cats looked as me as if I had lost my mind. Why was I pointing that weird, noisy, clicky ‘thing’ at them? But, I persisted in taking photographs. Lots, and lots, and lots of photographs and after some time, the cats began to ignore me. My crazy behaviour was no longer a cause for concern, nothing ever happened when I pointed the noisy camera, and they got extra treats.
Rember. You are not taking pictures to keep in the early stages. You are getting your pet used to the camera and building a rapport so that they feel comfortable. If some of the pictures come out that’s a win. But your aim is pointing and shooting. You are encouraging your cat to enjoy a photo session, not fear it.
Getting your pet to sit still for a photo shoot, or work to get a photograph you need for your blog requires one vital skill.
- Patience, from you.
You need to put in the work to build trust with your cat so they know they will have fun. Don’t hassle them, grumble, or lose your temper.
Once you have that trust all but the most super stubborn pets (see below) will know a photo shoot can be fun, means treats and will increase your chances of success.
Let your pet sniff the camera. It can help them get used to the photo shoot process faster.Beth, Daily Dog Tag
Choose When You Photograph
Know when your cat is at its most rested or lively, or when your dog is more likely to behave rather than be eager to go for a walk.
Whether you want to do a sponsored product shoot with your cat, or what dog owners call a ‘drop shot’ with the dog posed gracefully, you don’t want your pet to be lively and full of beans. Choose a time they are calm for great photos.
If you do want an action shot – plan for when your pet is most active and ready for play.
Choose Where You Photograph Your Cat
A cat is most likely to behave properly in an environment they trust or feel relaxed in. This can mean:
- Relaxing in a catio or garden environment.
- The great outdoors like adventurcats Kitty Cat Chronicles
- A dog that loves to hike trails with you.
I will never suggest taking your cat to a new area for a photoshoot unless it absolutely suits their temperament. Many cats will be nervous and unsettled in a strange place. Some cats though are very confident and amaze with their ability to put down their paws and just go! Plush from Life and Cats is a show cat who walks outside with confidence and Kylo Ren and the Kitty Cat Go team are seasoned hikers with their family.
For a Profile Shot
Get down there! Pet level is the only place to be, and no-one says the cat needs to be the right way up, although it usually works best upright and facing either left or right.
How Do I Get My Cat’s Attention?
Voices and short attention grabbing sounds are useful and can be used tactically to grab your pet’s attention:
- A squeaky toy
- A clicker
- A whistle
- A laser pointer
- Treats ( #briberywins)
- Your own voice making funny sounds.
TOP TIP: Don’t repeat a noise endlessly as this will drive you and your pet nuts and spoil any sense of fun. Set up a shot, be as ready as you can be – then deploy your noise of choice and take lots of pictures.
Remember one thing. You have to work with your pet’s attention span. Nothing in the world will change that so be patient and work with your pet’s limits. This may mean covering the photographs you want in a couple of shoots.
The Stubborn Pet
There is always one, and you need to be ruthless, devious and persistent in your pursuit of the image you want from the stubbon cat (or dog) who will not look at you.
The element of surprise works for the super stubborn pet – use it well!
If a cat always looks away, then you may need someone to stand further back from you and make the loud noise you know will cause your cat to turn and look.
Start taking pictures before they start moving. Use sport or burst mode and keep shooting.
You will have a narrow window to take as many photos as you can. Want to play really dirty? Have two people taking photos, one from either side.
Not too many dogs have the ‘super stubborn gene’ but the same tricks apply. You need the element of surprise and be ready with your camera.
Two Cat Photo Portrait Options for Beginners
If you don’t know where to start taking photos, let me suggest how you can kickstart your imagination.
If your cat is happy to sit still and pose in one place, you can try for a more formal portrait. This works especially well if you have a show cat that is used to being handled and posed. You need to have your camera ready nearby and take lots of pictures from every angle. If you can have a plain length of fabric that contrasts with your cat grab it. Your cat will look fantastic a plain background!
If your cat does definitely does not want to pose like a movie star, you need to capture your cat doing ‘cat stuff’. This more informal portrait style shows your cat relaxing, yawning, playing with a toy, leaping or walking. These are genuine portraits and your informal pictures can be the best you ever take.
Informal portraits capture a memory that is as important as the quality of your image. Informal portraits can be really precious, like this image of our Dot Kitten.
Persistence and Practice
Don’t give up. Yes, it’s easy to say and not so easy to do. Getting your cat to sit still or pose is something you work on as a team. It takes trust from you and your cat, learning from each other, and working together, to create the shots you need.
Have fun, and along the way, take wonderful pictures when you cat does sit still!
Drop Shot: When a dog is laid down with its front paws and head looking like an Egyptian Sphynx statue. The dog look alert but poised for action.