Written by Marjorie Dawson

How to Take Better Cat Pictures

How to Take Better Cat Pictures

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Today is Pet Parade 344 on the blog so I welcome our regular friends visiting mid-way through the take better pet pictures beginner course today.

You have arrived on Day 3 of the mini course so us and explore your camera, learn how important light can be in helping you take a good photo of your pet then focus on today’s workshop:

Your Pet’s Personality

You are the person closest to your pet and you know their characteristics, crazy quirks and habits better than anyone.

Depending on your pet’s personality you may find yourself taking:

  • A formal or more ‘posed’ portrait (maybe your cat loves to sit and show off) or,
  • an action shot (your pet loves to be in the middle of the action).
Cat photo of tabby shouting loudly
Portrait of Dot

TIP: Don’t try to force your pet to do something they hate, neither of you will have a fun time and the whole point of this mini-course is for you to enjoy each other’s company and create some fantastic shots along the way.

First, let’s take a look at the pets who want to be in the middle of whatever you are doing. You can consider action shots to help capture personality and joy.

Action Shots

There was a time when all of my photos ended up like this:

Spot Settings Blurry Cat

I didn’t have a clue about my camera or settings and I felt frustrated and really disappointed. Then someone suggested I use a specific mode on my DSLR that is aimed at making it easier to capture moving pets (and people).

Introducing ‘Sport’ mode

Burst mode allows you to take a series of pictures really quickly which is fantastic because you stand a much better chance of catching a moment of leaping action or running from a super active pet.

Sport or ‘burst’ mode (setting) is available on many smartphones and compact cameras. You may need to locate burst mode within your camera’s menu or check the manual.

Canon Sports Setting for Camera

On a DSLR you will find there is a stylised athlete icon. Sport is a pre-set that lets you take fast pictures in a worry-free way without overthinking settings too much.

Smartphones can often do a series of shots if you hold your finger down on the screen. Check yours to see if this works or if you need to look at your settings to find or change your mode.

It takes time to take good action shots but every doggy walk is an opportunity to take pictures, every playtime gives you a chance to capture fun felines in motion or the swish of a reptile’s tail.

  • I have done a fun post on sport mode for you to check out here.
Excietement and action in this cat photograph taken with a Canon 1300D DSLR

This image of Connor from NekoNgeru Cat Adoption Cafe is a big improvement thanks to sport mode.

Now let’s take a look at the laid back or relaxed pet who may be more stress-free but who will shine with a little care and skill from you.

Ground level photograph of a cat striding towards the photographer.

Pet Portraits Naturally

The second great way way to take pet photos that really work is to capture your cat doing ordinary things.

If this sounds boring, think again. Your best memories of you and your cat, or dog might be sitting in the garden, or seeing the glow of fur in a sun puddle. Quiet and peaceful times.

A natural portrait takes you much closer to your pet so check your settings for ‘close-up’ modes, and consider the following tips for great pictures.

Sage a grey tabby cat Close-up Cat composition
Dashkitten.com © Sage
  • Get down (or up) at pet level – Crouch or sit if your pet is at ground level, or beside them if they are relaxing on the sofa. Looking at or up at your pet empowers them and makes your image even better. Look at the dramatic shot of Dot below.
  • Don’t be afraid to get close – Getting really close takes time and trust to develop but be patient, you can end up with wonderful pictures. Avoid using too much digital zoom as this amplifies camera shake unless you rest on a firm surface.
  • Full face, profile and back shots can be effective. Pet ears can be so expressive.
  • Take lots of photographs – Not one or two but dozens of them. Before the digital age, you had to print off pictures, now you download them to your laptop or tablet an assess the pictures there. There is no risk when taking a digital picture.
  • Take advantage of your pet’s talents
Action photograph of a Cat climbing vertical pole
© DashKitten.com
  • Now, you know how your camera works – Day 1
  • How to use your light – Day 2,

And today I hope you enjoyed my tips on making the most of your pet’s good looks. It sounds a bit of a no-brainer to say this but I will anyway. Take lots and lots of photographs- the more you take the more your natural skills improve and the better your pictures get.

With what you have learned so far, you can start to enjoy action-packed photoshoots with your pet, or take a cool portrait.

I will be exploring what do to when you download your photographs to an app or photo editing software soon.

See You Then!

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.

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15 thoughts on “How to Take Better Cat Pictures”

  1. I loved seeing the pictures in this post – especially the kitty walking on the fence and the black kitty in the vertical post on the scratch post – how awesome!!

  2. Great shots! I remember “sports mode” when I was the yearbook sponsor and had to take photographs at sporting events. I think I heard it can be used when photographing pets. I need to try this! Thank you

  3. What a wonderful short video, and such gorgeous pictures, action and stationary portraits. Great advice, and so much fun. Thanks Marjorie
    ERin & Mrs H

  4. Oh, wow, you have some amazing action shots here. Taking photos of our pets is a great way to make it through being stuck at home.

  5. These are wonderful tips to help get better photos of our pets! My first cameras were film cameras and getting my photos developed was always was exciting, but it was also disappointing on many occasions. I love having a digital camera for instant feedback.

  6. Nice Post, Great Pics, and Great Tips. I really enjoy the more natural animal poses. The Black and White photo of the cat walking towards the camera is my favorite. I enjoy taking outside photos of my dog using the natural sunshine. (from Ava Jaine – Dachshund Station)

  7. Great tips! I’ve been really wanting to spend some time lately getting good shots of my two boys. I take a lot of candid photos of them but it’s been awhile since I’ve spent time staging a ‘photo shoot’. Action shots are especially something I’ve been wanting to get better at.

  8. Thanks for the blog hop and of course your tips, I am learning more and more and now am this week going to start with the new camera and hopefully things will work better for me.
    Great photos as always

  9. We love taking photos of the boys but they aren’t much for posing. They demand payment in treats. Haha!

  10. Our action shots are always horrible! And I have to say, Lexy and I do some cute stuff! MOL We need help in that area for sure.

  11. I have directed your posts to my old woman. She’s hopeless at photography. There are plenty of pictures of the top of my head, blurred close-ups, unflattering angles and gormless expressions. Quite frankly it’s an embarrassment. She needs you.

    Not So Sweet Toffee
    That’s Purrfect

  12. Great tips, as always. Especially “getting down to the cat’s level,” and “taking advantage of your pet’s talents.” That last shot was so much fun! 🙂


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