1. PATIENCE is key and be ready!
First things first, before doing anything else, have your camera and/or phone set up and ready to go. A heads up though, when photographing cats, you should expect a high failure rate…you should see the amount of images on the cutting room floor from last years Photoshoot!
In all honesty, cats are not an ideal subject for the impatient. They don’t strike obliging poses for long if at all, unlike-dogs who just lap it up and are easily bribed 😉
Just as you’ve framed the shot, they’re likely to walk up to you and sniff the lens or phone, or even just wander off because they have far more important things to do today. But predicting what they’ll do next is part of the fun right?!
Cats tend to strike random funny poses, especially when they’re lazing around half asleep in the warm sunshine. Successfully capturing these comical moments brings us back to being ready…having your camera or phone on hand at all times will save you loads of time.
2. Can I have your ATTENTION please
Your main goal should always be to have your cat’s attention. By now, you’ll know how much your cat likes to hinder your attempts at every turn. However, getting and keeping their attention on you will give you eye contact and end in some amazing portraits of your cat. I highly recommend having something small and a little noisy to draw their attention to you, keep the item as close as possible to your camera/phone to help draw their eyes directly to the focal point.
Clicking your fingers usually works for a time, until the cat catches on, so having a few options on hand is a good idea. Having edible treats available that they are rarely given is useful, as they will likely not grow tired of them as fast as something they have all the time. Loud noisy toys can help, although if your cat is easily startled I would avoid anything too loud that may scare them off.
Cats are intrigued by rustling noises too, so your options can be as simple as a scrunched up paper bag to encourage your cat look towards you. Use a cat toy if you want a livelier picture, but the success rate will be lower as cats are super speedy little things and you might miss your opportunity by entertaining them too much.
3. It’s all about ANGLES
There are three popular angles I like to work with when photographing animals and I find these to be the best approach for a successful image.
Join them at their level – Photos of animals taken from down at their own level tend to have more impact and show the animal’s personality better.
Ground work – Getting down to ground level can give the feeling of being the cat’s prey and adds drama to the photo so this is most ideal if you are wanting to capture a cat in hunting mode. You can achieve similar results for both of these options if you allow them to climb up to a higher level to meet your eye.
From Above – Photographing cats from above and getting them looking up at you can give you a different perspective and they will often look up at you with curious expressions full of innocence. These shots can be done from a standing position directly above them, or crouched down for a little more close up shot.
4. Let’s play PEEK-A-BOO
Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned game of peek-a-boo?! Cats often like to hide. In things, under things, behind things…playing peek-a-boo with them can result in some really fun photos as they sneak out to look at you. When you know where they are hiding and you have your camera at the ready, get in your chosen position and simply make a noise. Their curious little selves will pop out and give you the shot you had hoped for…that or they’ll run away…remember what I said about the fail rate 😉
5. Keep it SIMPLE
You want your cat to be the star of the show, so solid colours or a blank wall can work really well to keep the cat as the main focus of the image. Ideally you want to avoid any background clutter or items in the shot that will draw the viewer’s eyes away from your furry feline. A quick tidy up of the surrounds as part of your getting ready routine is an excellent idea.
Items like a cat bed or toy can make a great photo prop but choose your placement and framing wisely, bearing in mind that the fewer colours and textures you see in the background, the more you’ll be able to focus on the details of your cat. A clean background is especially important for keeping your cats attention on you too. The less distractions around them means you are more likely to achieve eye contact in the photos.
Different colours and textures will suit different cats as the patterns and colours of their coats will vary.
Experimenting with pieces of furniture and different fabrics to see what looks best can be a lot of fun.
6. Did someone say LIGHT
Natural light is always best with absolutely no flash!
Before getting started, turn off that flash. A direct flash will result in a harsh and unattractive photo, and will cause dark shadow lines around your cat. If your cat looks directly into the flashing light, it may also cause an odd glow in your cat’s eyes. Make sure the light source you are using is not behind your cat, especially when using smart photos as these do not cope when shooting into the light. Life will be so much easier if there’s a window behind or beside you offering plenty of natural light to fall on your cat’s face. Natural lighting will be much softer and more flattering. Plus you’ll be able to capture your cat’s true colours and textures better if you are working with the available light.
Working with natural light will mean you’ll need to take the time of day into account and what part of the day offers the best light within your home. While it’s okay to keep your house lights on, you might want to turn off any especially harsh overhead lights to avoid unpleasant shadows. Low light tends to result in dark and grainy images, so you’ll get a much more crisp and detailed shot if you let some light in. Open up the curtains and aim for a sunny day outside so there is plenty of light available to you.
7. Always have FUN!
Enjoy the game that this becomes and soak up all the fun and joy your cat brings you!
The Famous Felines will be announced on the 8th of September, so be sure to check back then.