The late W.C. Fields said, “Don’t ever work with children or animals.” Mr. Fields, I respectfully disagree — I believe you can fairly easily work with both children and animals, even when trying to capture really great photos. Perhaps now you’re thinking I’m crazy and wondering if I’m high on the catnip. Catnip, no — coffee, perhaps. Nonetheless, what I’m telling you is the honest truth!
Here are 10 tips for getting sweet shots that include both children and pets!
1. Posing isn’t necessary
I’ve found the best shots wind up being the candid ones. They happen after I tire of trying to bribe small people and cats with treats and just let the natural interaction happen. Your photos don’t have to look like they were taken at a fancy studio. Certainly, it’s possible to reach that magical apex where both kid and cat are looking straight into the camera lens and nobody’s crying or struggling to exit the frame. Just don’t sweat it if it doesn’t happen. Again, I think the natural ones are more fun anyway.
2. Keep camera close by
You never know when something highly photographable is going to happen, so keep a camera handy. Many mobile phone cameras take pretty good pics and most of us aren’t far from our devices. If you are using a traditional camera, leave it near the place where cute or funny moments typically happen.
3. Make sure kids know proper handling
Only allow kids to hold cats if the cats don’t mind being handled and if they are aware of proper handling techniques. A cat should always feel supported around the chest and at the rear of the body. Catster has some excellent guidelines for cat-handling. Make sure your child knows if the cat begins struggling to release her. Holding a cat against her will can result in scratches, bites and lots of tears. Additionally, if the child is holding the cat too tightly or incorrectly, kitty could wind up getting injured.
4. Lighting, lighting, lighting
Try and use as much natural lighting as possible when you take photos. Flash can result in those scary-looking laser eyes on kitty. But maybe you want a photo of a laser-eyed cat — in that case, flash away!
5. Plan wisely
If you really need to snap posed photos, say for holiday cards or grandparent-related reasons, make sure you carefully plan the shoot’s timing. Asking a hungry or tired child to cooperate is a disaster waiting to happen. Plan the shoot for a time that both kids and cats have full bellies and are well-rested. Well, the kids anyway — cats are always ready for a nap.
6. Take lots of pics
Gone are the days of film! Thanks to digital photography, we can take a kazillion photos and delete the ones we don’t like. So snap away! Chances are, at least one of the 173 photos you take is a keeper.
7. Enlist the child to help
You can give an uncooperative child some focus and direction by asking him to help you make sure the cat is relaxed and camera-ready. Maybe some chin scritches would help — or perhaps a couple of minutes of play could set the stage for some fun action shots.
8. Use props
If a cat is comfortably sitting atop a cat tree, incorporate the tree into the photo. In fact, I find a sleepy cat is way more agreeable. For my freelance writing gigs, I take a lot of cat photos. I find if I want to take a particular posed photo, I’m better off waiting for a cat to fall asleep or be in a sleepy state and then I jump over to wherever they are. They’re also more likely to enjoy handling if they’re in a relaxed state.
Kids can use cat toys to create playful poses. And I’m sure we’re all familiar with using a toy or shaking a bag of treats to try and convince cats to look into the camera. It works for kids, too.
9. Respect the personalities of the child and cat
Don’t expect kids and cats to perform for you in ways in which they’re not comfortable. A serious child may not want to wear silly hats — for that matter neither do most cats! Cats who are not snugglers will not enjoy being forced into a contrived cuddling pose. If the child and cat have a naturally playful relationship, go in a playful direction. If the child or cat is quiet or more reserved, maybe a candid shot of your child petting the resting or sleeping kitty would be more appropriate.
10. Relax and have fun!
Most of all, let go of expectations and have a good time! I’m a person who loves a schedule and likes to know exactly what’s going to happen, so this is a tough one for me. Don’t be afraid to take breaks, grab kitty and kid treats, or even change locations.
The funny part is, once I relax and release expectations, I usually manage to grab shots that are even better than the ones I’d originally planned!
Do you have tips for taking great photos with cat and kids? Tell us about it in the comments!
About the Author: Angie Bailey is a goofy girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.
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