Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Your First Step To Black Cat Photo Success

Black Cat Appreciation Day may not be until August but you can never have enough information and reminders on improving your skills taking black cat photographs.

So, I’m revisiting a classic tip with a purr-fect upgrade! This simple trick, along with some insspiring new photos will have your black cat pictures shining in no time. (Revised 2024)

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When I was struggling with black fur I did a lot of online searches and found a great quote that helped me.

“Capturing detail in a dark subject set against a lighter background presents a challenge of balancing exposure: You want to record detail in the darker areas but don’t want to lose detail in the lighter tones”.

This balance is achieved with one important element. Whether you are taking cute black kitten photos or have amibitions to show a black cat modelling for a product shoot; photographing black objects, including cats, needs ………

Light!

Black cat in silhouette

In this first image there is so much light behind Taz (backlight) that the details and texture of his fur are hard to see. Let’s see what kind of light will improve black cat portraits.

Let me describe the kind of light you are looking for to help you take a good black cat photograph. This helped me when I was trying to take some black cat Christmas pictures last year!

Natural Outdoor or Catio Light

An overcast day is perfect for pictures of black kittens, or an adult cat. The diffused light softens shadows and lightens fur and texture.

Very sunny days are not quite so good because the shadows can be strong. But, don’t worry if you have to shoot on a sunny day as there is a workround for deep shadows.

  • If you can find bright shade (I know it sounds weird but stay with it) under the shade of a tree, bushes or even a large umbrella, the ambient all around light will improve how your black cat’s fur looks.
kitten resting it's head on a sneaker

Indoor Bright Window Light

Near a window on a bright day, out of direct sunlight will give the the same kind of light as a catio or garden. This is preferable if your cat spends its time inside.

A Positionable Flash Gun

If you are lucky enough to have access to a flashgun with a moveable head, this can be bounced off the ceiling to give you extra soft light. Never ever point the flash at your cat. Flash pointed in the direction of your cat will upset it, and give you truly terrble photos. Pointing the flash upwards diffuses the light and works similar to fill flash.

An alternative for those with the equipment would be a small softbox. These are boxes, often on a tripod base, with a covered front that will diffuse the light

Why Is Natural Light Best?

It’s free! Make use of this valuable resource by researching what time of the day your own home or garden’s light is at its best. Check out morning and early evening for good light. Indoor black cats are stunning near a window.

  • Be ready to shoot when you know your own light is good, not when anyone else tells you it is. You know your light, your district and your own cats.
  • If you have a flashgun take time to practice it before you use it on your cat. Find a human victim friend and see how they respond to a flash.

Black absorbs light like a sponge so aim for a softer ‘gentler’ light so you get fur definition. This can be the one thing that transforms your own black cat photography. As you get more confident, try shooting in different lighting conditions. This will expand your black cat photo skills and teach you how light can help.

BONUS: You can experiment with definition in a photo editor. This works very well if you have shot portraits in the RAW format.

Black cat with radiant green background

Winning With Black Cat Photographs

What makes black cats hard to photograph is, sometimes, your own mindset. You can’t just point the camera and hope, you have to take into account the one thing that makes our photos work – light. Look for the light and and your reward will be a much better and successful black cat photograph. With these black cat photography ideas get out there, practice, share the black cat love on social media.

Just as Phoebe does here. Let the black (or very dark brown) fur shine!

Black cat in bright sunshine

Photo Resources:

27 thoughts on “Your First Step To Black Cat Photo Success”

  1. Pawsome tips! Black pets ARE tough to photograph but with these tips, I think even I can get one or two of my little black Ninja. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Wonderful tips on using light for black cats (it would work for dogs too!) Cloudy day are my favourite outdoor light!

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  3. Great tips and the photos are beautiful as always, thanks for your tips to turn me one day into a better photographer

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  4. Excellent tip for taking great photos of a black furry friend. I LOVE how you used black and white with Taz on your leg near bright light. I’ll have to try that one with Henry and really think about lighting. Super great ideas that I can’t wait to try. With your help, one day I’ll take “decent” photos of Henry. Thanks!

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  5. Those are really good tips and our Maxwell says thanks bunches and thanks for joining Angel Brian’s Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

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  6. Oh I adore black cats! Our last one, Binx, a feral we “adopted” or rather he adopted us…coming and going as he pleased, but stayed with us for years…was a gorgeous tuxedo. I loved taking pics of him, especially in the fall by the pumpkins and colorful leaves! I love your natural shot, it’s just so dimensional. Great tips as always! Pinning to my Shutterbuggin’ board to share!

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  7. Those black furs can be a challenge but once you get the hang of it they are purrfect models. Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

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  8. Pipo wasn’t really black, but he sure had a dark face…and while we had a big south facing window..he just hated seeing the camera…and I never used flash…so the precious few pics I have of him are just that, precious.

    Benji, whilst he is a dog, well , he has mostly black fur, and my best ‘selfies’ of him, are taken in diffused light, out in our yard.

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  9. Wonderful tips! I’ve noticed with my torties, natural light is what always shows off their beauty to the max.

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  10. Fantastic pictures of black cats! Tips on photographing them are always welcome, as I have several. They are indoor cats but I always like the natural light from the windows best.

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  11. There is truly nothing we can not achieve once we have the tools and the patience to practice. Lovely post, Marjorie!
    ERin

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  12. We don’t get any direct light! But the best pictures I’ve gotten of Ellie are all in the window! Of course, she’s spending more time there (don’t tell Latte) because Latte can’t find her in the window …. just like Bear used to hide in the window from Ellie!

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  13. Photographing black pets well can be quite a challenge, right? You got it figured out perfectly. I find that my black dogs best photograph in the snow.

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  14. Great tips – With our two torties, I quickly learned that natural light was the key to getting great photos of them. I have experimented with different artificial light options, but it simply doesn’t compare. There is something so magical and beautiful about a black cat in photos, isn’t there?

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  15. I used to struggle so much with Phoebe and taking nice photos. Practice and light were my best friends!

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  16. I’ve heard that owners who have black dogs face these same issues. Great tips! I don’t have any cats since my partner is very allergic to them, but if I could have a cat I’d for sure want to adopt a black one. They are so regal, and it makes me sad that they are so often over looked in shelters. Maybe shelter workers/volunteers could use these tips to improve adoption photos of the black cats looking for new homes!

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  17. These are excellent tips! As a owner of both a black dog and a black cat – LIGHT 💡 – is sooo important with pictures or it just doesn’t really look like much at all! Thank you for all the tips!

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  18. I bought a flash gun this year specifically to photograph my house panthers. Love your tips! 🐾❤️🐾

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  19. I had some black fur issues with Pipo, and Suki before him. Sometimes with the pups.
    Outside light for sure works the best,
    great post with good info.

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  20. Great tips, Marjorie! And when you don’t have any good light sources, try to focus on the cat’s eyes, right? 🙂

    The room where our adoptable pal Cho (featured on our blog today) has not natural light. Luckily, she is a great model!

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