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5 Tips for taking Great Cat Photos
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Tales from a cat mama…
Cats can be a little strange and disconcerting for those of us who consider ourselves, “dog people”. I was once where you are, a dog person who knew nothing about cats except that they were cute. However, through a series of extraordinary events I became a rescue mom to two adorable cats, Google and Copper. I honestly wasn’t sure what I was getting into, all I knew was that cats were extremely different than dogs in terms of personalities. But,the more I interacted with my boys the more I saw their personalities come out and I learned the things they liked and disliked.
1- Be calm and assuring
Being a pet photographer and working with other photographers that photograph animals I find that people get nervous around cats. I think that some of this is due to the fact that cats guard their emotions, they need time to assess you before they decide if you are one of the good guys.
Dogs, on the other hand (for the most part) will show you instantly how they feel about you. [great article on taking fabulous dog pictures: 10 Tips for Photographing Fabulous Fuzzy Faces ] You might get a tail wag and a face lick if they like you or they might be a little stand-offish or even growl if they are nervous or afraid. Either way, it tells you how to approach the situation.
2- When taking pictures of cats don’t pose them!
Photographing cats and dogs is as different as well…cats and dogs. Dogs are very praise and food motivated and usually want to make their owner happy so it is easier to get them to “pose” for shots. Cats are more interested in what is good for them at the time. This doesn’t mean they don’t love their “parents” but they are less likely to assume a position for praise or treats.
3- Don’t take them outside, find natural light inside
Also, natural light is very prevalent in dog photography because dogs are used to going outside, they know the smells and the feel of grass so this is a normal environment for them. For most cats they do not know the outdoor environment and may be skittish if you try to place them outside so you will have to deal with indoor lighting.
4- Have patience when taking pictures of cats.
Becoming a cat mama myself lead me down the road of loving cat photography. I was intrigued by their personalities and their beautiful lines. Like any good photographer, I looked for art inspiration in my world to improve my photography skills and that inspiration fell to my cats. I have learned that the key to taking amazing cat photos isn’t something technical, its actually…patience. Because cats are cautious creatures, you need to give them more time and attention than you would typically give a pet session. A typical session might start with just sitting in the client’s home and chatting with the pet parent about the kitty while the cat watches from afar and feels you out.
5- Be Creative
Photographing inside a client’s home takes a bit of creativity, not only do you have to think about your lighting and whether you plan to use natural or artificial light, but you also have to photograph in places that the cat feels comfortable. That comfy spot may not be ideal as far as composition but your photo will be so much better if the cat is comfortable than if the location is ideal and the cat is scared. As the cat relaxes to you being there they will start to do their normal routine things and these are the pictures every pet parent wants. The pictures you create of their babies are going to give these parents something tangible to cherish forever.
So when it comes to cat photography just relax, take your time, and let the kitties be themselves. Giving them that extra time to warm-up will ensure that you get beautiful and genuine pictures. Take it from a cat mama, a relaxed kitty is a happy kitty!
Heather Navartil |
Heather is a pet and wedding photographer based out of Richmond, VA. Her love of pets started young and her passion turned into a profession. Her heart is happiest when she is surrounded by her husband and furbabies <3