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How to take great photos of your cat

Jul 25, 2018

When you compare your cat snaps to professional photography, there’s probably a noticeable difference. So we asked a photographer Stuart Miller for some cat photography tips so you can also take beautiful photos of your own cats. Follow his expert tips and you’ll soon be taking cat photos like a professional.

Can you recommend good angles for shooting cats?

Shooting from the cat’s perspective always comes across more genuine and engaging. Lie on the floor or squeeze yourself into a tight corner to get down to your cat’s level. You could also try shooting on a 90 degree angle, twisting around to your left or right.

What backgrounds and props work well?

I love using soft textures. A big knitted blanket or sheets with nice stitching always work well. I steer clear from anything too clinical and avoid busy patterns. You always want your cat to be the focal point.

What’s the best light for photographing a cat?

I like big, soft window light. An overcast day is perfect. If it’s sunny, avoid windows with direct sunlight streaming in. This causes harsh shadows with too much contrast. Be patient and capture those beautiful moments when your cat looks towards the window. You’ll notice their eyes will fill with colour and light, creating a striking image.

Are there times of day that work best?

If you’re using soft window light, the time of day doesn’t matter too much. If you decide to use harder sunlight or if you’re outside, try to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. In the middle of the day the light is much harder, and can create problems with heavy contrast and messy shadows.

How do you photograph a black cat?

This is always a tricky one. If you shoot black on black everything blends together. Yet if you photograph on white, an automatic camera like a smart phone will typically underexpose the photo. So look for pale or light grey backgrounds. And if you have control over the camera, bring the exposure up to balance out the cat’s dark tones. 

What coloured backgrounds best suit a ginger cat?

I like to use similar colours to the cat’s fur. I recently photographed a ginger cat with a ginger wicker washing basket in the background which worked perfectly.

How do you get a cat to look at you?

Patience – or luck! I don't like using toys or sudden movements to get the cat’s attention. It makes the cat look too intense and their eyes don’t feel gentle. For me it’s all about patience. Make a soft purring noise or gently call their name. Wait for those warm and genuine moments we love so much in cats so much. It’s always worth the wait.

Do you have tricks to get a cat to sit still?

I might try to place a cat in the ideal place, but we all know that if a cat doesn't want to sit still, they won’t. So once again it’s just patience, and sometimes moving around with the cat. If a cat sits in a terrible spot with terrible light, I might try to move them to a place with nicer light and better textures. But given cats have minds of their own, you’ll need to be flexible.

Any other tips?

If you have a good camera, get creative and play around with the exposure controls. Cat’s features often appear darker than you want in photos, so having the ability to increase the exposure will often give you better results. Once you find your favourite settings, you’ll be on your way to producing gorgeous, frame-worthy photos.

 

Stuart Miller Pet Photographer

About Stuart Miller

Stuart’s fresh, considered approach is the hallmark of his work, and one that’s made him one of Sydney’s most in-demand photographers.

His images draw inspiration from the subject at hand, combined with his crafted lighting skills to create extraordinary visual narratives. Stuart’s work has been exhibited by both the National Gallery of Victoria and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

He was also the camera behind our latest FANCY FEAST shoot, featuring eight gorgeous cat models.