Pumpkin does paperwork

Pumpkin does paperwork

Friday, August 14, 2015

Photographing your cat: A 5-minute essentials guide

In just 5 minutes, learn some cool techniques for getting great shots of your feline friend(s).

What you need:

  • A cat
  • A camera
  • Some light
If you are comfortable fiddling with your camera's settings and spending a little more time to get your shot, you have even more flexibility for great pictures. The purpose of this article is to suggest how you can get great pet shots without fiddling with camera settings, apart from turning it on!

Your Subject

  • Get close.
  • Tell a story.
  • Capture candid and spontaneous moments that don't look staged.
  • Take pictures at kitty’s eye-level.
  • Include meaningful elements in your shot and show kitty enjoying himself.


Good lighting is a very important part of getting great pictures.
  • Use natural lighting and try to avoid using the flash if you can (except as noted below).
  • Strong lighting from the side provides a great effect.
  • Try to avoid scenes with very bright areas and very dark areas.
  • Morning and afternoon light are excellent times to make natural-light photographs outside or next to windows.
  • Avoid using your flash unless there are bright elements behind your subject. 
  • Avoid red-eye by turning your flash off or try to prevent your subjects from looking directly at the camera. Many cats will be startled by some camera's pre-flash systems, it is best to avoid startling your cat in the first place by just not using the flash. 
  • Try to get a "catch-light" in your pet's eyes. A small bright glint of a light source reflected in the eyes will add life to your shot.


  • Make sure kitty's eyes are in focus. If your camera doesn't allow you to control focus, or if you'd rather it focus for you, make sure kitty's face is near the center of the frame, hold the shutter button down half-way, to establish a focus and exposure lock (most modern cameras will do this) and recompose your shot if you like, without changing your distance from kitty.
  • Brace yourself and/or the camera against something solid and unmoving whenever possible.
  • Hold the camera as steady as possible, especially if you are not using the flash.
  • Press the shutter button slowly and deliberately.


There are rules. Some have been used by great artists for many years, some rules are meant to be broken, some just make sense. Ultimately, you get to decide what you like, but here are some guidelines.

Don't put kitty's face right in the middle of the shot. Put her off to the side a little, Imagine your scene split up in to nine rectangles, all the same size. Where the lines intersect are good places for kitty's face/eyes.

Be aware of foreground, middle ground and background elements. Avoid elements that interfere with your intended subject, like that wayward house-plant vine sticking down behind kitty's head.

Above all, have fun!

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