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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