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Photographing Cats

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Now that we are in the middle of winter, many of us photographers are going a little stir crazy. The snow of December was beautiful and photogenic, but these January ice storms? Not so much. I’ve found myself finding more indoor subjects as a way to keep myself sharp for spring, and what better indoor subjects are there than lazy, fluffy cats. There is a reason why the internet seems so obsessed with them: they are very photogenic! Though not always cooperative, cats do offer us a nice way to stretch our photographic muscles, or maybe try out that new lens, flash, or camera that Santa brought us.

But how do you get those beautiful, Instagram-worthy shots of your favorite fluffy feline?

Here are some tips:

The first tip when dealing with all animals is to be calm and patient. If you are trying to pose them, or rush them, cats will usually not stand for it and will hide. We all want those cute stretch or yawn photos, but running up to your cat with a large camera in hand when they do it will not result in a good image.


Secondly, make sure that you have ample light. Cats love a good window to peer out of, and this can work to your advantage. Window light is soft, bright, and versatile. If you have a particularly calm cat, you can also try a flash set-up. What I usually do when I have to use flash for a cat session is set up my system first, then sit back and allow the cat to relax and get used to this new scary thing in its space. I will fire the flash a few times but not look at the cat so they don’t run away. Once the cat is comfortable, you can try to move it into position. Having a helper to position and play with the cat while you are shooting is helpful, but don’t let it stop you from trying by yourself!

Ultimately, the cat will do what it wants, which is why photographing them is a fun challenge!

Next, you will want to pay attention to the background. If you can, and your cat will tolerate it, try to move them to a place where the background is neutral or adds to the story. Busy photos with lots going on won’t allow for that dynamic, beautiful image you seek. This is also why having a fast prime is handy! Shooting at a wide-open aperture will allow for your background to blur without having to move a particularly stubborn pet and can allow for some fun compositions!

Really, the key is to be calm, have a wide-open aperture, a fast shutter speed, and a lot of patience. While dogs revel in making us happy and being good and goofy, cats are much more private and cautious (for the most part.) Want to show off your cat photos or ask for tips on a particular photo? Email me at melanie@cameracompany.com! The best cat photo will be featured in next month’s Camera Company newsletter and on our Facebook page!

All photos are copyrighted by Melanie Renee Photography.

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