Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Quirky Ideas for Photographing Your Cat

To capture the essence of your feline companion and create stunning photos, it’s important to get creative with angles! Let’s me show you how reimagining your cat photos can create eye catching images in your photoshoot for cats.

Do you best to avoid pointing and shooting from above. This can make your cat appear smaller and less majestic than they really are which they might not forgive you for! Instead, do something different and try getting down on their level for a unique perspective. Experiment with shooting from different angles to showcase their unique characteristics. 

Shooting Underneath a Glass Surface

This can be done by using a glass coffee table or clear shelf. Get your cat on to the surface maybe with a few treats and keep a toy or two nearby, (unless your cat is a natural show off and ready to play for the camera). Or, do what I saw one photographer did on Instagram – sprinkle catnip on the glass for some really funny tongue shots.

My photo is from Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Former mischief maker Chenzou (retired), who was the subject of our Kuykendall Image Award win, posed on top of a perspex box suspended on the wall at the cafe. I seized the opportunity and slid my camera underneath to take a fun black and white toe bean photo. I hope the box makes an appearance when the new cafe opens later this year.

Cat cat on a glass table showing underneath and paws

Looking Around Corners

This idea will get you some unique captures since it involves you getting creative when looking around corners yourself, or luring your cat around the corner by rattling a bag of treats. The treat idea works if you are ready to take the photo. Be in position – down at ground level so that when your cat appears around the corner you are in burst mode or continuous focus mode and ready to start shooting!

This cute shot from two angels at Meezer’s Mews and Terrieristical Woofs really captures the corner idea perfectly, not with one animal but two!

A cat and a dog peep around the corner at each other and touch noses
Image Credit Minko and Jack Freckles Peep at Each Other

For candid shots, grab your camera and either peek around the edge of a wall to capture your cat playing or catch them coming round the corner, like this curious little guy. Your depth of field for a peeping cat photo like this might be around f5 giving you a soft foreground and background and make sure your natural light is bright. 

Grey cat peeping around a corner
Image Credit – JulieAlexK
  • Movie Tip: look at how many of the influencers shoot their cat videos – ground level. The camera is steady and it is low down.

Shooting From Above

This idea lets you take a photograph of your cat with your camera lens pointing straight down ‘towards the ground’. It can help you get some fun shots, just watch yor step.

You can capture cats running between your legs as you stand, or capture a group of cats together playing or eating looking from above. Why is this ‘easy’ fun? Because you are not focusing on one cat so don’t have to stress about focus just concentrate on using burst mode or continuous focus on your DSLR. 

Another from the top idea is tummy shots. Some of the cutest cat photos like this are tummy photos with a kitty filling the frame.  The cat may not be chonky, but it will always be cute.

I used to think these tummy shots were staged because they looked slightly odd and none of my cats ever did this. I had to revise my opinion when Teddy, our newest adoption actually rolled over and did a tummy pose. Now I just have to catch him in the act (again) which is where the cat photographer’s best skill comes in – patience!

Trio of Munching Cats – ISO 800 f4.5 1/25
Kitten lying upside down while being held
Jethro (almost) Tummy Shot – Smartphone

Odd Angle Cat Photos

These are very much opportunistic cat photos and a wonky angle may be your only option. You capture a moment that is literally a brief second as you lift the camera. Framing the shot doesn’t come into the equation you just shoot and hope!

The first photograph here is Natasha high in a tree. She was above me and I had to crane my neck to see her. I took a lot of photos and a few were successful, like this one. It is difficult looking up into a brighter sky and as a beginner, using a compact Samsung (2014!) this came out pretty well. You might find your cat on a high shelf and have to tilt back. Be careful and brace yourself as you take your shots.

Editing note: I had to lighten (dodge) her white fur a little as it was dark but it’s a fun shot. 

Looking up at a cat in a tree
Natasha – Samsung DC300 Compact.

In the photo below, Miranda is stalking along the top of a fence. Like most cat photographers, I probably looked comical trying for an unusual shot. I had one elbow over the fence as I balanced on a small wall and gripped the camera. I was trying to focus on Miranda between all of the twigs. 

You may find this yourself, if you are looking at a cat through leaves, or between the legs of a chair or table, the camera does its best to focus on a different element each time, which might be a table leg not your cat. Finding Miranda’s eye and focusing on it proved a challenge but I was happy with the result. 

tuxedo Cat peeping in a tree
Miranda stalking – ISO 400 55mm f4 1/40

Reflective Angle Shots

I confess that this is one type of photo that is still on my to do list so I am showing you a lovely photo by fotyma as an example. From the samples I searched through, the thing that makes a photo of this type work is having an opaque (non-see through) reflective surface like a misty and rainy window or a dark polished wood.

Try to make sure your cat model is well lit so the reflection is stronger. If you feel you don’t have enough light, hold a piece of white card, hopefully without upsetting your model, towards the light and it will add a touch of soft light to chase away shadows on the fur. 

Exposure Setting Symbol for an iPhone
Exposure Symbol on Smartphone

Smartphone users should be able to find an Exposure Adjustment tool like this one on the iPhone 12. It looks like a plus and a minus side by side. Try your shot, then if it seems too dark increase the exposure by sliding the tool from side to side with your finger. The screen will brighten so you can see if the shot works. The effect is not extreme but it could give you the extra boost of light you need.

Top: Standard Exposure/ Bottom: Brightened Exposure

You can also use the reflection idea with a puddle or a water fountain, especially if yours looks like our favourite shiny stainless steel Raindrop fountain from Pioneer Pet. 

Reflection Cat Photo Samples

Check out the reflection on Fotyma’s image and Harvey’s reflection in his favourite Raindrop bowl.

Cat Reflection – Image Credit Fotyma 
Raindrop Pet Drinking Fountain with white cat
Our Senior Cat Harvey With Reflection

15 thoughts on “Quirky Ideas for Photographing Your Cat”

  1. Love, Love all of these ideas. My personal faves are the reflective shots…and coincidentally, when my Bandit and Wolf were with me, that last summer, I was taking some cool shot of them as they would go under the glass picnic table to watch me as I was working on my laptop. I used to add a few treats on the table and did get a few really silly shots. Those pics mean so much to me, especially now that they are gone. Who knew? I also did a lot of from above shots so I could get all five in without a fisheye lens. As a photographer, I’m always looking for cool new ways to shoot pics. I do love your odd angles, that can create some really unique pics. Sharing your wonderful tips!

    Reply
  2. These are terrific ideas! They even gave me a few thoughts I can try with Henry. I love the unique angles suggestion and the reflection idea. I will definitely give them a go. Truly a genius way you break things down so the average pet parent can understand and try them.

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  3. These are such cool shots! I especially love the clear table shot and the one in the tree, they came out great. Jethro is so precious, what a cutie!

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  4. Great tips. Mom wants to try the glass one.

    We are trying this from our phone since we could still not comment with our pc.

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  5. You do the most creative and imaginative work (stay steady on your feet!!). From my perspective it’s the only way to shoot photos of pets … (love that dodge tool by the way). I need to scroll back to a few older posts, there were a couple I’d meant to comment on and did not take time to do so. Thanks Marjorie for the tutorials, just as an FYI I often use your words of advice, Ann

    Reply

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