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Cat photography

By Amy Renfrey

A short time ago I had the pleasure of partaking in some photography for a pet rescue organisation. They wanted me to photograph quite a few kittens and cats at the same time. This was a dream come true to me. Not only am I a photographer but I love all cats and kittens. I found this duty was a lot of fun yet very challenging.

You might have heard that pet photography is very difficult . It’s difficult to think that photographing sweet little kittens might be very tricky. What is so hard about this type of photography? It is the similar thing that makes other types photography difficult; speedy motion. Let’s discuss ways to overcome some of these familiar issues.

Kitten photography

If you are photographing kittens the initial issue to be aware of is that you will be working with an unpredictable subject. It is very exceptional for a kitten to just sit and look at the camera. You must use aids to lead your kitten with no intimidation or anxiety. It is imperative to encourage the kitten to be as calm as possible. A lively kitten is very hard to photograph. A relaxed kitten is ideal.

How can you calm a kitten? One of the ways that kitties relax is by letting them spend as much energy as possible. Once they start to fatigue then you will have a better chance of gaining the photographs you need. You can ask a friend to tinkle a toy or blow a whistle over your shoulder so that the kitten looks in the direction of your camera. You may also give them a little bit of special kitten food and the minute they pull their head up after eating, shoot the photo. Strive to get them to look at your camera if viable. This can be tricky if they are still in play mode. This is why I say it’s more intersting to take photos of them when they are beginning to relax.

If you would like a spontaneous and fun playful photo then it might be at a nice idea to let your kitten have some fun with a ball of string or toy. You can take some wonderfully natural and fun photos using this method. You can take a shot of your kitten reaching up and playing with toy. You can also take a photo of your kitten being very interested in something. These spontaneous and candid images work very well as an alternative to the standard pet portrait photo. I have taken many spontaneous photos by doing this.

Professional Pet Photography Tips

What are the right settings to use for kitten photography? People who have not learned manual mode accurately are likely to take photos using semi-automatic settings. I do not trust you can get the true photo when the camera dictates the adjustments for you. You are more clever than the camera. I always photograph in the manual setting mode for absolutely everything. Kittens included.

What is the reason for this It is beause I understand more than the camera does. I realize what will work. I want to have absolute control over my fstop because I want to be in charge of my own depth of field. If you let the camera control your f-stop then you are letting the camera to control your depth of field. Your camera doesn’t understand how to capture a first-class image, it simply knows that it needs to expose for lighting and capture depth of field. It does not comprehend how to get sharp photos of moving kittens.

I frequently place myself about a meter away from my kitties. As the focus point moves all the time I use auto focus. (Due to the movement of the kittens). Making use of manual focus can take too much time for your kitten to jump into the plane or focus, if at all. I pursue the kitten about with my finger on the button, repeatedly focusing and refocusing. To help me to get clarity of the kittens eyes I am thorough and specific about what F stop range to use. I am inclined to use an aperture between F5 .6 and F8. This allows me to have a rather short depth of field without focus difficulties.

I use a shutter speed of about 200th of a second or more. Your kitten can move about very fast and you want to be able to capture the speed of motion without blur. If you are making use of the flash you will see that you do not need to worry about shutter speed. Flash will stop the action at about 250th of a second. This is pretty practical to work with due to the fact all you have to do then is set your f-stop knowing the flash will manage the shutter speed, in effect.

If you set your f-stop to a wide setting, like F2 .8 or F4, you may discover sharpness eludes you. This may be since your kitten has jumped out of the focal range and the image is no longer holding sharp focus. However, if you use a slightly smaller aperture you might find you do not undergo this predicament. The cameras aperture and depth of field are very much linked. It is important that you get the correct aperture for the distance from your kitten. In other words the larger the aperture the closer to your subject you need to be. Deliberate this when you are photographing your kittens.

What happens when you can’t use the flash?

Just prior to one of the shoots my flash decided to stop working. Fortunately I was using continuous lighting. I decided to take my flash off the camera. I then produced my photos at 6400 ISO, 200th of a second and F 7.1. I used a very high ISO to compensate for the soft light. I wanted to get as much light as I possibly could. I also needed to use a high ISO so that I was able to use a rapid shutter speed. Using an F stop of 7.1 enabled me to get some clear and sharp images.

How to photograph kittens

I photographed a mixture of standard and candid, yet lighthearted, photos. I made the decision to create a series of these photos in black-and-white. I call this my “Black and White Kitten Series”.There are many opportunites to produce some very resourceful pictures of kittens. You may create some intentional blur, side profile photos, intense macro pictures or even use aids like baskets or flowers.

Just remember the secret to taking photos of kittens is light and motion. It is best to get as much light on the scene as possible. Window light is good but you also want to light up the scene from the opposite side. You may need to use reflectors but it might distract the kittens. Otherwise you may want to bounce the light from the flash off the roof as I did. (Before my flash stopped working.)

Bounced flash is best. It is also effective to have a white card on top of your flash. This white card assists in leading the light from the roof downwards onto your subject. It is not good to blast your kitten with front light from the flash. The direct flash may harm their eyes and frightened them.

You need to be ready to be flexible and open minded when you photographing your kittens. Always position yourself on the ground and photograph from a low angle. This may help you to focus on the eyes. Be prepared to move around with your kitten. It is important to provide them praise as you go. After you photograph them offer them a small indulgence. Animals understand when they are valued.

Photographing kittens needs practical skill and good lighting. It also calls for the photographer to be calm and relaxed. Some days are more productive than others. Sometimes your kittens are not frightened by your camera. They will look at the camera with curiosity and even move toward you start sniffing the camera. This is a terrific photograph if you can get it. If you are working with unsettled kittens then be exceptionally gentle and very tolerant.

Photographing kittens is a pleasurable and challenging experience. Always treat your animals with greatest respect and love at all times. Kittens and sensitive little beings and need to be treated with respect.

Amy Renfrey is a professional photography teacher. She shows you how to take stunning photos every single time, even if you have never used a digital camera before. Click here to discover/ how to take beautiful photos every time you press the shutter button.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Renfrey, Amy "Cat photography." Cat photography. 21 Apr. 2014. 2 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Renfrey, A (2014, April 21). Cat photography. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Renfrey, Amy "Cat photography"

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