Taking better photographs of my cat
This article could better be titled “Tips for taking photographs of our cats that are good enough to print and frame on the wall”. Let’s face it, it seems everyone owns a smartphone with a camera, a compact camera (with lens built-in), or even a Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera. At best, nearly all the images we take are destined for 2 minutes of Facebook fame. At worst, our images are destined for the delete button, or lost ‘in the cloud’ … never to be seen again! Here at Duet Images, we are out around Melbourne running professional photography sessions. A number of owners and carers ask us questions on how they can also take better photographs themselves.
It’s great to walk into peoples hallways, and see a proudly framed picture from a family’s past. They capture people at an exact instance in time, and can be handed down from generation to generation. Our cats are all-important members of these families as well. If we want to keep these memories for years to come, we can portray them with the knowledge that these pictures will stand the test of time. We simply have to think, as we would with all other photographs of our loved ones. Here are some simple, practical cat-photography tips that can make all the difference – irrespective of what camera we own.
First of all – and particularly if you have a compact camera or SLR; try and keep your camera with you as religiously as you would a mobile phone. It sounds obvious, but keep a spare (fully-charged) battery handy, and always make sure there is space on your memory card.
When out in the garden, try to choose the right time and place for the photographs you want. For example, bright overhead sunlight between the hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm can lead to some very uninspiring results. Around lunch-time, the contrast between a cat’s forehead (reflecting bright sunlight) and the background, is considerable. This means that their all-important eyes have dark-shadows from the bright light above. This will lead to images that are hard to adjust later. In particular, if a cat’s eye doesn’t “pop out” at you, then we have lost that wonderful ‘cheeky charm’ that we want to portray.
Ironically, the best place to take photographs of our families (human or feline) is in the shade of a tree, a building, or ideally on a cloudy day. Look out for the ‘mottled’ shade of a tree though, as it can create irritating ‘hot-spots’ on a cats fur, and our own skin. Just as with bright sunlight, these hot-spots are very difficult to adjust or remove later on.
Particularly with kittens, try to get an assistant to help you – your child or partner will do just fine ;o)
They can occupy feline attention with their favourite toy, or simply a twig you found in the grass. When their eyes ‘lock-in’ to the object at hand, we avoid worrying about turning them to face us. This is otherwise a bit like herding cats! We are looking for that wonderful ‘connection’ with their new-found interest, indicating that your cat is lost in their thoughts. If you have two cats, try to capture them interacting, perhaps licking each other’s fur, or simply looking at each other.
If we are going to figure in photographs of our cats, then we have to think of our clothing. Try to avoid those distracting bright colours such as bright red, yellow or orange, or distinctive stripes. Plain, neutral coloured greys or blues are best, and draw the viewer’s eye to their faces.
A simple ‘Composition’ tip is to keep the background simple – a wooden fence, a hedge, even a white wall, can avoid the eye being distracted away from the main subject.
Here are photographs of Melbourne’s cats in even lighting situations – whether outdoors or indoors:
If you would like some more inspiration for portraying your cats cheeky personality, you may want to have a look at our Cat gallery of feline photographs
Photos – Cat Photography Melbourne