Maria's Pet Photography Tips: Part 2 - Cats

In the previous article we discussed a few facts about pet photography – what it is and how it works. Now, it’s time we asked ourselves a crucial question: does the world really need another cat photo? Admit it, even you can’t get enough of these friendly furry creatures that seem to have taken over the internet in no time. They’re everywhere, from your Facebook news feed to your YouTube favorites. They’re silly and funny, yet so elegant and noble. And photogenic! So yes, we do need more cat pictures. But, as long as we’re here, let’s discuss a few tips on how to take better photos of cats.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Montrose

Some General Facts About Cats

Cats are amazing pets. No wonder they’re today’s number one choice in pets all around the world. However, taking their picture can be quite a challenge, especially if they don’t know you. They’re active animals that love to play and run around, which can get exhausting. But they’re also very lazy. Did you know that cats can sleep for even 20 hours a day? (I know, I’m jealous too!) Dealing with a sleepy cat can be rather frustrating if you’re trying to get some fun, fullbody shots. An easy solution to their unpredictable character is to always keep their owner around: this way they’ll feel safer to act as they please and you’ll have an assistant to keep the cat active.

Where Do We Start?

Well, first of all, get to know the cat. Like I said in the previous article, this is the most important step in pet photography. Spend a few minutes with them and gain their trust. Introduce the cat to your stack of toys and other objects in the room. If you’re shooting outside, allow them to discover the surroundings and silently follow them around in order to catch any reactions they might have.

Photo courtesy of Ben Heine

Photo courtesy of Ben Heine

What Are You Shooting For?

Always keep in mind what the photographs are for. Does the owner simply wish to have a beautiful collection of their wonderful pet to spam his friends and family, or do they need it for a beauty expo? The purpose of the pictures will completely influence your approach and techniques. Let’s see how.

If you’re just making an album for, let’s say, domestic use, you will want to focus more on the cat’s personality. Take your time to get to know the cat and play with them. It’s essential that they feel comfortable around you, otherwise they might hide someplace safe and sabotaje your entire creative plan.

Photo courtesy of zapfino

Photo courtesy of Kelly West Mars

Show cats are a different story. Such photosessions should take place at your studio, for optimum lighting. You will need clear, still shots over a contrasting background, in order to draw attention to the cat’s body and fur. Talk to the owner and find out which distinctive features set this cat apart. Working with show cats shouldn’t be difficult, as they are already trained to answer commands and stand still. Make sure to focus on their eyes and posture and don’t hesitate to take close-ups.

Photo courtesy of Zoo Studio

Photo courtesy of Carly Davidson

Catch The Emotion

When it comes to cats, always expect the unexpected. They’re unpredictable, but learn to use this to your advantage. They can show a variety of emotions and it’s up to you to capture them in beautiful images. Let's take a look at the most common traits of cats.

Cats are silly creatures

Cats aren't afraid of making mistakes such as running at full speed straight into a mirror or chasing their own tail for hours. In these particular moments of "stupid", they will make a silly face like below. 

Wondering how to catch your cat sticking their tongue out? There's no big secret here. Cats usually stick their tongues out as a sign of complete relaxation or when they're interrupted in the proccess of grooming. All you need to do is either wait for your cat to relax or fall asleep, or surprise them in the middle of their grooming process. 

Photo courtesy of Morphicx

Photo courtesy of Steve_hk

Cats are hunters

It's their instinct. Domestic cats don't lose their wish to hunt, but rather turn it in a daily playing routine involving your expensive new couch and shiny shoes. 

Photo courtesy of Xante Berkeley

 Photo courtesy of Li Ward

Cats Are Seducers

They're irresistible. If they want your attention, they know how to get it. 

Photo courtesy of Sharon Montrose

Cats are lazy

If your cat doesn't feel like moving, take advantage of this quiet moment and take some still photos of them. This is a good time to take macro shots of parts of their body.

Photo courtesy of Li Ward

Photo courtesy of anark8

Cats are adorable

This isn't any news, I know. Do your best to catch their adorableness in pictures and you will always get amazing results. And if you get the chance to work with kittens, then it's a double win!

Photo courtesy of SubterfugeMaiases

Photo courtesy of Kelly West Mars

Cats Are Fierce

Putting all adorableness aside, cats are still animals with strong teritorial and family instincts. If you have to work with an unfriendly cat, it's not the end of the world. Focus on their face (especially the eyes) and capture that fierce gaze. Make sure there aren't any distracting details in your composition and that your post processing only emphasizes the hostile mood of the initial photo.

Photo courtesy of â–ºCubaGallery

Photo courtesy of Nicolaas Hamid

Cats Are Curious

Sometimes it feels like they have no sense of self-preservation. They will play with pretty much anything and stick their heads in any type of bag or box. Follow them around as they interact with the environment and your effort will most definitely be rewarded with amazing shots like the one below.

 Photo courtesy of edwindejongh

What, you though this was it? We'll be back soon with more tips on how to take better photographs of your favorite pets. Next up: dogs!