When Capo was about six months old, Jeff and I took her to my sister Beth, a professional photographer, to have portraits made. (Hey, don’t judge me! They’re only little once.)
If you’re thinking this sounds like a recipe for chaos, you would be right. Capo squirmed when we held her, darted behind props, ran from room to room, and basically did everything you would expect a cat to do in this situation.
Here’s a video Jeff took with his iPhone during one of our calmer moments:
Despite the chaos of our kitty running around the studio, Beth was able to get her to pose for some fabulous shots, like the one at the top of this article.
By using the following strategies:
Tip #1: Bribery
Having seen my sister do many shoots with young children, I know that a chocolate chip cookie can be the difference between a fussy, stubborn child and a compliant, smiling one. So, I brought cat treats.
We used about half a bag of cat treats during Capo’s shoot. It was a great way to get her to focus toward the camera. Just hold a treat where you want the kitty to look.
Tip #2: Boxes
When you’re setting up a shot with a cat, it’s a good idea to use props that cats already like: boxes for example. Cats feel secure when they have a box to sit in.
Tip #3: Check Your Pockets
When we were setting up a special shot where we wanted Capo to put her paw in a fishbowl, the treats didn’t work. After all, a cat treat in a bowl of water is not very appealing.
Then Jeff fished around in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled receipt, which he threw in the bowl of water. That got her attention and she immediately started batting at the floating paper, which is how we got this succession of shots:
If you don’t have treats at your disposal, you likely have something that will substitute. Keys, for example.
Tip #4: Click Yourself Silly
Don’t expect to snap three pictures and choose the best one. To get really good photos, you have to take a LOT of pictures.
To give you an example, when Jeff and I took pictures all day at the Camden dog show, we came home with almost 1,000 photos. How many truly great pictures did we get? Less than ten.
Beth, a certified professional with years of experience, shot photos of Capo for almost an hour to get the stellar results you see in this post.
Patience, young grasshopper.
Tip #5: Editing Is Not Optional
All photographers spend time editing their photos. It’s what turns a good photo into a great photo. For amateurs who aren’t planning to sell photos, free software will work just fine. I use Photoscape, a free download. Jeff uses iPhoto, which came loaded on his Mac.
At the very least, you should be eliminating red-eye, cropping, and using the “enhance” button. It’s the difference between, “Oh, it’s a cat.” and ” Oh wow! Frisky has beautiful eyes!”
Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy camera or a studio to shoot in. Photographing your pets is less about number of megapixels and more about capturing their unique quirks and expressions. Years from now, you’ll still have these photos to remind you of the funny and sweet things your cat did.
Plus, your cat will eat up the attention. What pampered, royal cat wouldn’t want his own paparazzi?