The Mog Tog: Photographing Cats and Kittens

Let’s face it, the furry little fiends are not the easiest subjects to photograph well. They don’t listen when you are telling them how to pose and they’ll wonder off bored long before you have the perfect shot set up. So, whilst there is no such thing as a bad photo of your favourite felines, here are 20 quick tips for getting snap you’ll be proud to share on social media, or even put on you wall, mouse mat or coffee mug. The models for this tutorial are Dido, Harold and Maude.

1. If you ignore all the other tips, remember this one: patience!

dido loves her pig
dido loves her pig, but if I put her on it she would jump off straight away; so, patience…

2.Get low down and shoot from their height, not yours!

harry a few months old
harry a few months old

3.Get in close and make use of complimentary textures.

maude in amongst the cushions
maude in amongst the cushions

4. Have your camera ready to capture some unexpected humour from your intrepid feline explorer.

dido covered in something she found somewhere
dido covered in something she found somewhere

5. Get in real close for dramatic pet portraits.

harry was made for black and white photography
harry was made for black and white photography

6. Cats are not fond of having cameras thrust in their faces; a telephoto lens can help you get close from a distance.

maude was on the garage roof, hence the "mouse eye view"
maude was on the garage roof, hence the “mouse eye view”

7. Dark fur can be tricky to expose; try spot or centre-partial metering and check the review image and/or histogram after shooting.

dido has always been a bit of a scruff
dido has always been a bit of a scruff.

8. Play with unusual perspectives; I used a wide angle lens to get this shot of Harry.

my paws don't normally look this big, it's wide angle lens distortion
my paws don’t normally mook this big, it’s wide angle lens distortion

9. Did I mention to get in really close? Cropping tightly during editing can also work; the general cropping rule is “crop in, then crop in some more!”

maude's eye and whiskers
maude

10. What are the key physical characteristics of your mog? Use them to add personality to their portraits.

look into my eyes
look into my eyes

11. Is your mog camera shy? Distract them with a favourite toy and get them well into the play before the camera is brought out.

hmmm, catnip mouse, my favourite!
hmmm, catnip mouse, my favourite!

12. To snap the little tykes in mid-play you will require a fast shutter speed and a high ISO; use manual or shutter priority mode on your SLR, or one of the “sporty/action” modes on your compact digi.

let's dance
let’s dance

13. Think about the composition of the entire scene, not just your model.

dido through the serving hatch
dido through the serving hatch

14. Give kittens something to play with, or place them where they can investigate some strange new wonder.

a floral puss
a floral puss

15. Sometimes a prop or two can come in handy; if you’re going to add amusing props to a scene work quickly before the wary mog notices something is afoot!

only one of us is smiling
only one of us is smiling

16. Sibling kittens will interact in ways that adult cats are unlikely too – take such opportunities when they come.

brother and sister
brother and sister

17. Ok, so I couldn’t decide between this photo and the previous one, so you get both. It is worth saying that you won’t always get perfect composition, exposure or focus, but sometimes that doesn’t matter as much as capturing the moment…

yes, your breath does smell of fish
yes, your breath does smell of fish

18. Clutter-free backgrounds are best for any portrait; using a wide lens aperture can help blur the background to make it even less distracting.

harold and maude
harold and maude; yes, after the film

19. Whilst cats are notoriously difficult to direct, kittens can be more pliable; Harry and Maude loved jumping from dining table to serving hatch; I laid in wait with the camera whilst my better half encouraged them to leap.

shouldn't we have capes on?
shouldn’t we have capes on?

20. The general rule of portraiture is focus on eyes / face, but rules are made to be broken…

maude
maude’s paw

 

To chat about your photography requirements, call me on 07757 259390 or send me a message via email.

Or check out some more examples of my human portrait photography.

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Fun With IT

Sometimes a client will ask me to create some light hearted images to promote their services. Such images still need to tell a story – communicate the products or services on offer – but taking a fun and creative helps engage with their audience, grabbing their attention.

web design

 

These composite images were created back in 2011 for Granite Computers. They wanted something a bit different, something amusing. They also wanted to communicate the fact that they were a small company that could take on big jobs.

search engine optimisation

A storyboard of ideas was developed during the course of a couple of meetings with Granite. We planned a banner image for each page of their new website, covering the various services they offered such as PC and laptop servicing, hosting, web design, SEO and so on. The theme that linked all the images was “playing with scale”.

 

service pc

Building giant sets was never an option, so the solution was to create composite images – two or more photos merged to create the final image. Shooting the raw material for the composites took place over 3 sessions:

  1. a location shoot at Granite’s premises to capture large objects such as server racks
  2. a still life shoot at my home studio for small objects such as laptops, motherboards and leads
  3. a model shoot at my home studio

Tim from Granite was our main “model”, but I also recruited a second model to add some variety to the images. Props such as the hard hat, virus safe and protective suit were begged, borrowed or stolen (ok, probably not stolen). For the “hosting” image (bottom of this post) I downloaded a stock image of traffic light trails, carefully selecting one that would interact well with the server rack I had photographed. The screen graphics were supplied by Granite themselves.

 

service laptop

Obviously a lot of Photoshopping goes into this kind of imagery, but the planning stage is really the key. You have to consider the angles and lighting that will help join subjects to backgrounds. The scenarios depicted are obviously not real, but as with a sci fi movie, you still need the viewer to “suspend disbelief”.

connecting a server

Granite could have looked for stock imagery to populate their website, but creating their own images allowed them to show their own liveried shirts and communicate their own unique identity.

To chat about your photography requirements, call me on 07757 259390 or send me a message via email.

Or check out some more examples of my creative advertising photography.

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