Tag Archives: pet picture

Tips and techniques on taking pictures of your pet cat- Part 1

This post is part of a series of posts on taking pictures of cats.

Cat have their own set of methods for getting a good picture as compared to dogs or small pets. Read on for some great examples (that you can buy, just click on the picture or link!) of pet photography and tips of how to get your pictures to be even better!.

Pictures not noted with an author are (c) Susan L. Marsh (aka susanszoocrew). All others are property of their respective owners!

Types of pet cat/kitten photography / photos

In my opinion, pet photography can be broken up into three different types.

First you’ve got the “quick! Grab the camera! Rudy’s doing something cute!” candid shots. These often capture the funny moments of having a cat or kitten. Playtime with a ribbon is a great time to grab candid shots-use a stick to tie the ribbon on to help control where kitty is and make taking a photograph one handed easier. .

Secondly there’s the semi staged shots. You put the cat in the bed and hope it stays there long enough for a picture….lay a paper bag on the floor and wait for kitty to go in it…Leave the nice warm laundry basket on the floor and wait..Set the cat on a stool, add a santa hat, and try to get your Christmas picture (ok, maybe that’s just me!). With cats, you usually end up staging a scene and hoping the cat falls for it more times than you’d be able to pose the cat. This is different than with a dog, with a dog you can tell them to “Sit!!!” and snap a picture.

Lastly there’s the studio shots. Set the scene, brush the cat, camera on a tripod or other surface. These involve a staged backdrop, special lighting, and whatnot.

This lens will concentrate on the first two types of pictures as that’s what most people will end up taking

What you *have* to have to take cat pictures(besides a cat or kitten!)

1. Camera.
This doesn’t need to be a fancy SLR digital camera with 20 lenses. You can use anything that will take a picture! I’ve seen great pictures done on a old disposable 110 (remember those?) camera, as well as horrible I-wouldn’t-post-that done on a $999 digital SLR. That said, when photographing pets you may want to try out the camera for noise levels and the startle factor. I owned a camera that had a really high pitched squeal as the flash warmed up-which eliminated the possibility of any candid shots indoors. Others I’ve used have had loud shutters, or beeps on digital camera telling you the picture was taken (I turned all those off on mine). Before plopping down money, see if you can hear the camera in action. Better yet, borrow a friends and see how your cat reacts!

2. A finger or other way to push the shutter button.

That’s it! All you really need is a camera and a feline friend! Everything else is optional and situational

Optional (but recommended) cat photography equipment

1. A tripod
It helps to have a tripod if you’re trying to do a composed scene or your animal has a tendency to scramble away-and most cats will. Camera on a tripod means you can chase Fitzgig without dropping the camera.

2. If no tripod, a neck strap.
I don’t recommend a wrist strap. It’s too easy to bang the camera against something as you grab for Rudy heading for freedom. Plus, they are thinner and can break. Invest in a neck strap!

3. Toys (aka, attention getters, and props!)
Cats are a bit easier in the toy department than dogs. A simple piece of ribbon or yarn (don’t let kitty tangle or swallow), a crinkly plastic bag, a paper bag (big favorite here!), etc and you can distract your cat from the noisy flashy thing you keep aiming at him. Things that squeak are great for getting the cats’ attention to look at the camera! Toys also make great props.

4. Treats (aka last resort bribery)
If your cat likes treats, get em out! Great way to keep his or her attention on you instead of everywhere else they can be. If your cat has gone into hiding when you took out the camera, opening a can of food or tuna is a sure way to find them too. However, keep in mind that most cats only want a few treats, so use sparingly-unlike dogs who have endless tummies!

Trust me, the cat is not going to give you an entire roll of perfect shots. I am happy with 1 out of 100 being useable. The kittens’ attention is going to wander…….her eyes will need wiping…..the moving dust speck in the corner looks like more fun….etc. Remember, all they know is you are yammering and aiming this black box at them. If you aren’t getting the results you want, try again another time! Some cats have no patience for having their picture taken, others don’t seem to care.

6. If you’re doing posed, a backdrop
A simple sheet or comforter or chunk of fabric draped over a vertical object will suffice. You can also go all out and get rolls of paper. Another option is to set the f-stop low enough that the background is blurred (on point and shoots, there’s usually a portrait mode that will do that for you). Keep in mind that you’ll want some contrast between the cat and the background, but not too much. A black cat against a white wall usually ends up looking like a shadow unless you really fiddle with the settings. You may have more success if you have the backdrop end on the ground so you can be at ground level if you’re trying to “pose” your cat. My cat will sit on a stool for a few minutes until he decides to jump off, so I’ll often use a stool in front of a backdrop for him. A friends cat would give you some new scars if you try to make him sit on a stool-his pictures are all candid :).

7. A UV filter on the lens (if applicable)
If you have the kind of camera where you can add filters to the lens, I recommend a UV filter. They’re cheap, and a lot easier to replace when they get scratched than your camera lens. You will sooner or later end up cleaning nose prints off the lens-especially if you’re like me and like to get up close. A few dozen times cleaning the lens, or one time with the wrong fabric (soft…..and watch out if you’re using your Tshirt in a pinch that it’s not dirty with muddy paw marks because the sand scratches) and you’ve got scratches!

8. First aid kit
This is more for you than the cat :). Watch where you are walking as you are backing up to get that perfect shot! Tetanus shots are not fun, make sure yours is up to date. And clip those claws! And watch those teeth! Cat scratches and bites tend to get infected easily (cat scratch fever isn’t just a song!) so wash any wounds out immediatly with soap and water.

9. If you take your cat somewhere to have pictures done, a *carrier* is a must.
I didn’t realize people actually transport their cats loose in the car until someone told me how their cat escaped! Any animal should be in a carrier or other restraint, for their safety and yours.

10. Oh, and a closed room makes cat photography easier
An open door is an escape route, if your cat realizes the door is shut he/she may not be as prone to running away every time you’re about to get that “perfect” shot.

Continue to Part 2 of Taking pet cat pics