How to Photograph Cats and Dogs


Fur-Faced Friend- For Life
Purred: Thu May 28, '09 7:52pm PST 
Animal eyes take on an unflattering glow when photographed in low light conditions, unless your Isadora. She can't stand the on-board flash of my DSLR and simply poses with eyes shut for every frame.

If I want to photograph her beautiful eyes I take care to shoot her in the brightest natural light possible. Near a window or outdoors around noon in filtered light, like open shade (slightly more light than dappled shade)

If you look at Isadora's page...you see that her coat appears more vibrant and true, when on the front porch compared to the photos I shot indoors. The current photos I have on her page still don't do her justice or illustrate the beautiful advantage of sufficient lighting. But the light was bright enough to reproduce the natural appearance of her eyes. You don't want to use flash lighting when photographing animals.

Now another point to consider is contrast. Cats always look great when photographed in their natural environment, the greenery of the great outdoors. But what about indoors? Just like people have their best colors, to show off and compliment their skin, certain colors will highlight you cat's beautiful coat better than others will.

Photograph animals in contrast to their coat. Dark cat=light background, Light cat=dark background.

Patterned cats (calicos, tabbies, bengals) are shown best with a solid background.

Solid cats can look great against a patterned background or a contrasting solid background.

In summary, the key things to remember are:

-Bright natural or ambient lighting-NO FLASH!!

-Consider the cat is your subject and keep distracting "other things" out of the photo.

-Highlight & Contrast

Some Catsters here have beautiful examples of good cat photography.

My next post following this one will include my favorite Catster photography that best illustrates these points.


Fur-Faced Friend- For Life
Purred: Thu May 28, '09 7:53pm PST 
Here are some examples of fine Catster shutterbuggery.
Visit their pages and take a gander...

968038 Tully
875977 Sylvester
56453 Smudge


Proud mother of- the Gang of- Four!
Purred: Fri May 29, '09 8:11am PST 
Isadora has some great ideas for amateur photographers. I, too, have found that natural light is the best. You can choose between photos of your cats doing what comes naturally (sleeping, grooming, roaming the great outdoors), but posed photographs are also an option. If you look at the Magnificent Seven's page, you'll see what I mean. (It took me 700 shots to get the ones that I actually uploaded.) I photographed them against a blank wall, but my breeder buys photographic backdrops (paper in various patterns/colors) to use in his photographs. This is particularly important for a breeder, because a good photo can make the difference between being able to sell a cat and not being able to sell a cat.

As for professional cat photographers--Chanan, Larry Johnson, Helmi--they use artificial light (because they're usually photographing in cat show halls) and a flash. They get the cats to pose in artistic (artificial?) ways by using fishing rod toys and a lot of "brr brr" noises to get the cat's attention. If the cat is outgoing and cooperative, the result is some very fine photographs. (See Chibi for a good example of what Chanan, who makes a point of bonding with cat and owner, can do.) If the cat is NOT cooperative, or afraid (Harvey and Leila) then you end up with dorky photographs (Harvey) or photographs of an obviously scared kitty (Leila--pupils dilated, muscles tensed for escape).

For the average person taking photos at home, natural light seems to work best. And wand toys can help make the cat take a pose that is artistic rather than just run of the mill. In any event, taking cat photos is hard work, and I've come to respect people who have mastered the art. Oh, and a very good camera/lens is always a plus, for those of you with the money (I'm still using a cheap camera).


Loki the Maine- Coon Cat
Purred: Fri May 29, '09 9:55pm PST 
A very fast camera is a big help- I don't just mean shutter speed, but one that reacts quicky when you click to take the picture. Some just sit there...
A "real" flash is much better than the pop up flash on the camera , if you can afford it. Much less weird eye reflection, and better overall color.
Also with many DSLR cameras you can manually change the white balance to better reflect the type of light in which you are shooting .


Has been COTD!
Purred: Fri May 29, '09 10:43pm PST 
Yes, I forgot to mention that fast reaction time is a must for a camera. Cats generally do not cooperate by staying still when you're photographing them--unless they're asleep.

rhymon- pearle- hedges-come- home

i demand a- shrubbery!!!
Purred: Fri May 29, '09 11:44pm PST 
try photographing a trio of feral kittens...laugh out loud they are just never freaking still! i'm constantly taking pics of where they just were. (those pics will be posted soon on the NH feral squadron page)
EDIT: well, the pics in which the kittens actually appear will be posted. random pics of my yard, my porch, sticks, and patio furniture will NOT appear unless they are for some reason requested by the infiniti car company.

i like natural light, but i think i need to read the directions on my camera or something, because when i disengage the flash to get it i get blurriness sometimes. i'm guessing that's because the shutter is staying open too long and my hands are moving. sometimes the natural light photos turn out just beautiful-only in the natural light pics with no flash can you see what color kaya actually is, the flash bleaches her out. and god, i am tired of the cats coming out looking like lycanthropes because of eyeshine, and natural light pics take care of that.
my favorite way to get a dramatic, eyes open and engaged pic of rhymon (like in the forums pic over there) is to use her white feather toy. nothing really works for kaya, you just have to get lucky. does anyone else have a cat who repeatedly yawns, time after time, while you're taking their picture? i have more pics of kaya's teeth, tongue and tonsils (do cats have tonsils?) than i care for, really. the problem with churrah is that somehow he frequently comes out looking headless. it's sort of freaky, actually.
oh, let's keep this thread going...i love this topic.applause

p.s.: maybe the need to get pics without distracting stuff in the background will motivate me to organize my house and lawn...?thinking

Edited by author Fri May 29, '09 11:46pm PST