Cat photography is one of the greatest joys on the internet, there’s no doubt about it. But for something that’s so delightful, it can also be pretty difficult when you’re the one behind the camera. If you want to start taking better photos of your favorite felines, check out these tips from professional cat photographer Andrew Marttila. He might just have the coolest job ever!
Let the cat get comfortable with you.
Before you start snapping pictures, it’s important to make sure the cat is relaxed — especially if it’s a cat who doesn’t know you so well. While most of us are probably taking pics of our own kitties, if you are a feline fan who isn’t lucky enough to have a pet, you might want to snap a friend’s little furball or a kitty at a cat cafe from time to time. Andrew suggests using a gentle tone of voice and offering your hand for the cat to smell and get used to your scent.
“Just let them get accustomed to you and get comfortable with you,” Andrew says. “Because when they’re stressed, the photos that you get are not going to be good. They’re going to make grumpy faces.” RIP Grumpy Cat.
Get the cat’s attention.
If you have trouble convincing the cat to look your way, Andrew suggests using interactive toys such as crinkle balls ($5.79, Amazon). Since all you have to do is squeeze a ball in one hand to make the “crinkle” noise, it’ll be easy for you to focus on your camera in the other hand.
“If you don’t have a toy, crumple up a receipt or something,” suggests Andrew. “Anything that makes sound and is visually stimulating.” After you make the sound with the crinkle ball (or whatever toy you’re using), Andrew recommends letting the cat’s gaze follow the toy as you slowly move it around. “And then, when you’re ready to take the photo, put it behind the camera and it looks like he’s looking at the lens,” Andrew says. “It’s such an easy hack to use with cats.”
Pay close attention to the lighting in the room.
Lighting is a common issue with cat photos, especially since many pet kitties stay indoors. Ideally, you want natural light from the sun coming through a window or glass door, especially if you’re using your phone to take the picture. But even if it’s a perfectly sunny day outside, the cat photo could still turn out poorly if the background is overexposed and the cat is dull and shadowy.
To avoid: “You want your back to the light source, so that the light is cascading in on them,” advises Andrew. “You want to be in between the cat and the light source.” If your home doesn’t allow for great natural lighting, you can also use a selfie ring light clip ($13.99, Amazon) on your phone for an easy way to illuminate your cat. Just be careful not to shine any bright light directly in your pet’s eyes.
Try to get on the cat’s level — literally.
Perspective is crucial when it comes to cat photography, Andrew says. If you take a photo from too far above, you’ll end up missing a lot of important details that make a kitty so cute, such as a purr-fect facial expression. Plus, being on the same level as a cat allows people looking at the picture to feel more connected to the animal — especially if he or she is looking directly at the lens.
“I do a lot of photography in shelters and with rescues,” Andrew says. “And it’s super important that when people see a photo of a cat, that they become bonded with that cat.” But even if you’ve already adopted a kitty, there’s nothing wrong with letting your friends and family enjoy a similar bond.
After all, who could resist faces like these?
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I’m sooo excited (and a lil nervous) for @meowfestival tomorrow. It’ll be the first time I give a photography workshop by myself and I cannot wait to share what I know! I’ll be at my booth intermittently throughout the day w/ shirts, my new book, and a bunch of prints including a limited edition version of this photo. I’ll see you guys there! 🎉
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