Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Pet Photography Ideas For Cat Faces

The photographic challenge of a cat in profile brought out some of the most fascinating images in the Cat Close-Up Challenge last week. The pictures were amazing so today I want to turn our model 90 degrees and face the front for some spectacular shots.

We have some impressive contributions from our fellow bloggers that show how effective a close-up taken from the front can be, and the range of cameras is inspiring, so read on for gorgeous pets and epic tips.

As usual, these photography hints and tips apply to all animals but as a cat blog, our spotlight is definitely feline.

The cat as a full face portrait

Tabby fac full fave portrait
Captain Basil. Iconic leader of the B Team © iPhone image

A good close-up removes the background which might be unsuitable and spotlights your fabulous cat’s personality.

Cool full face cat photographs to inspire

Check out Bionic Basil leader of the epic adventurers the B Team. This a sophisticated cat portrait and it was also taken with an iPhone. There is a real sense of presence in Basil’s pose.

If your cat has a ‘look’ or an attitude, this is something you might consider working to capture it. A cheeky look or elegant pose when resting may take time and patience but keep our tips in mind and be a patient pet photographer.

Smudge’s photograph here is taken from an unusual and slightly radical angle.

Smudge is looking across to the camera and slightly down while at ground level. As well as being a fun cat close-up of his amazing face his soft fur contrasts with the texture of the grass and the stretched out paw reaches almost into our space. This kind of shot should inspire you to try a few unusual angles yourself.

A naturally framed close-up is fantastic, then try a few off-centre pictures. Experiment. Some will work some will make you laugh because they don’t work!

How to Photograph Cat Faces from below
© Smudge from Bionic Basil and the B Team iPhone Photograph.

The most important tool in your camera bag

When you are learning how to photograph cat faces, the most important equipment is not a DSLR zoom lens or a macro close-up attachment for your smartphone or the camera knapsack that holds your photographer’s gear.

It is the bag of treats that allow you to get the attention of your cat, and a pose like this picture of Smudge from the B Team.

Taken with an iPhone this dramatic and fun image should inspire anyone who feels they need a fancy camera to take great pictures. It’s a combination of luck, cattitude and a co-operative pet model, not the camera.

Bonus camera tip for dog owners.

A squeeky toy can help you get a wonderful full face picture. You need to be ready to shoot quickly and, yes, this might mean two or three seconds opporunity. Be prepared and use burst or sport mode. Remember our tips from last week?

Portrait of longhaired tabby
Zoe from the Island Cats ©

Where Can I Take the Best Cat Pictures?

Smudge’s background, like this lovely picture of Zoe of The Island Cats, shows how you can use backgrounds to compliment your portrait. The camera is pointing downwards and the cover Zoe reclines on compliments her beautiful eye colour.

If your cat is happy to be photographed in different places then you can use the opportunity to take portraits:

  • On a plain or textured cover or comforter
  • Near a window to use the natural light
  • At floor leve on a plain or nicely patterned carpet.

Bckgrounds can add something special. But, if you don’t have one just move in closer. Easy.

Making sure you and your camera are always ready to be one step ahead of the actions your pet will perform…

Peta Pixel

Challenges with a Strong-Willed Cat

Your pet may have a very strong character and they may project this persona in how they pose. They can appear very contrary and not in the mood which means you can feel frustrated when you don’t capture their handsome pose or cheeky look immediately.

Take a breath. Who knows your cat best? You do so work with that knowledge:

  • A cat who really isn’t interested. Tough challenge but every cat has a weakness. Exploit this shamelessly.
  • Active kitten? Try a small tripod for your camera and a remote. Sit behind the camera with a treat and coax them to play in front of you.
  • Choose a safe place. Take pictures where your cat knows it is is not going to be threatened, not unfamiliar places where its nerves will be on edge. A simple sheet is a great cover.
  • Still frustrated? Sit down and work out what is causing you problems. Brainstorm possible solutions to your cat photography challenge. Write down every single crazy thing until you run out of space and ideas. You will find something to work with.
Phoebe Portrait
© Phoebe Av Mode, Canon DSLR

Finally,. If you feel discouraged

If you are like me. I feel I can’t take a good picture sometimes. Using my smartphone or my DSLR it seems a struggle to get settings right, as well as framing and composition.

This has prompted me to increase my skills in a more structured learning environment. This is something you can consider too.

I have booked a place on a photography course for beginners to help me get a real grip on DSLR basics. Here are some things I hope to learn, can you think of any others I might need?

  • Learning about camera modes including Manual
  • Learning about camera menus
  • Proper camera set up
  • The best equipment for photography goals (Do you want to get really close or focus in the bigger picture?)
  • A few Photoshop or other image app skills

If you are in the same position, check out your own local educational institutions with an art focus or a good online course.

I like Mark Hemmings who hosts Digital Camera Mastery a digital photography course I have taken this course and it gave me so much confidence (AFFILIATE LINK). You might remember his video from my Beginner’s DSLR post.

Figure of a woman with a Silver Tabby


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.

21 thoughts on “Pet Photography Ideas For Cat Faces”

  1. Fabulous tips, as always, Marjorie! And what beautiful models you have there! Squeaky toys for dogs works great, in my case, treats! My Huskies just love their treats! LOL! Being a photographer my family jokes that everyone knows (even my 2 yo grandson and my Huskies) all snap to and smile automatically when I enter a room with a camera! LOL! I trained them well. (winky-winky). 😉 Pinning to share!

  2. These are wonderful portraits! My sister is training her cat to be a good model. It is really cute to see him work! The right lens can make close-ups easier, especially with shy cats or dogs.

  3. I think it’s amazing the quality of the photos I can get with my iPhone now. I honestly get better photos with it than I do with my Nikon. Of course, I need to learn how to use my DSLR.

  4. Great suggestions! I photograph the animals for my local shelter and definitely need to use a few tricks! I find that taking a couple of minutes to interact/fuss a cat, really helps them to relax into that magic ‘photographic’ moment.

  5. I really enjoyed all the pictures you shared! I don’t have a cat, but love (probably a bit too much) taking pictures of my dogs. Squeaky toys or a ball work well for my younger dog, but treats are totally where it’s at when it comes to my older boy. It’s the best way, by far, to get him to actually look towards the camera.

  6. Fantastic pictures and tips and I have found that rattling the treat bag LOL lately is working with Layla and I the past week for once have actually managed some good pictures of her. Am hoping it will carry on but your tips always help. Happy Easter

  7. Great pictures and the tips will come in handy as I will be photographing a ton of cats in the near future. I re-read your post in taking videos without editing because I will need to learn to do that as well.

  8. My biggest challenge other than getting cat cooperation is getting a shot where Plush doesn’t look like an angry furball. Either his face just disappears, a flash helps, or he looks so scowly if I get too close. I need new award pictures done. I’m going to hope the pros get something good, I know I won’t.

  9. The mom isn’t always able to get good close ups of us…but this time Zoey cooperated. Thanks for featuring her!

  10. Absolutely AWESOME pictures and presentation by all your photo stars, and a great post too, BRAVO!

  11. Having a camera or iPhone at hand while cleaning and visiting at the Shelter is key for me. With three cats at home now, it’s important to be prepared! I’m hoping to get all three of our boys looking good in the same shot. It’s a challenge…

  12. Great tips, as always. Trust between the photographer and the kitties is critical to getting good cat face photos. We’re lucky with the PAWS cats — we’re there so often that they feel comfortable with us and my camera. 🙂


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