Capturing Cats

More than one friend has told me recently I should consider going into pet photography. One Facebook fan actually inquired as to what lens I’d used to capture a particularly close shot of Petie’s nose.  I had to admit to using a point-and-shoot (a Canon Powershot SD780 IS). Needless to say, having had no formal training, I’m flattered.

is this cat going to eat me? grey tuxedo cat with green eyes and pink nose

I’ve read several less-than-informative posts and articles lately purporting to have helpful tips on taking good pictures of your pets.  Since the bar was set so low,  I figured even I could do a better job.

So here are six I HAVE CAT photography tips for regular folks with point-and-shoot cameras who want to improve the quality of their pet photographs. Hope you find them helpful and that they inspire you to take more pictures of your furry friends!


  • Keep your camera close by at all times. I keep mine in a drawer in my coffee table easy to reach from both my chaise and sofa so I don’t disturb the kitty moment I’m trying to capture.  How many times have you gone off to find your camera only to come back and find your cat is no longer doing that funny/cute/sweet thing you wanted to photograph.

Looks like this cat ate a bird!

  • Don’t use flash. Without flash it’s harder for people to see the dust on your wood floors, you’ll also be able to capture more detail while avoiding laser eye cats!  Beware –  without flash, you’ll have to have a very steady hand. I find it’s helpful to prop my elbow up on a piece of furniture or even just put the camera on top of a table.

tips for taking good cat photos

tips for taking good cat pictures

  • Experiment with angles. Some of the best photos I’ve taken have come about by my placing the camera on the floor and shooting at cat-level. This usually means I too am flat on my stomach! Another fun thing to try is shooting from above your cat. I’ve gotten some neat pictures of Kip’s face from top down when he was sprawled on the ground.

cute kitten photo

tips for taking good cat pictures

  • Get up in there! Don’t be afraid to get up-close and personal. Approach slowly and quietly (I love taking pictures of my cats when they are sleeping and they I can catch them as they wake up trying to get their bearings).

tips for taking good cat pictures

  • Focus on different body parts. A paw, a nose. Don’t always take the full face or full body shot.

grey tuxedo cat with bright green eyes and big pink nose has a scratch

  • Play with cropping. Who says you need to get your cat’s entire face or body in-frame. Go crazy!

tips for taking good cat photos

Do you have any additional pet photography tips to add? Bring it on!

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  • Great tips! I’ve pretty much been a photographer all my life, grew up around a dad who was great at composition, and had his own darkroom.

    My only hitch is having my camera close by all the time…that would probably involve strapping it onto my body! LOL And yes, I’ve lost several good shots by having to go fetch the camera. 😉

    You’ve pretty much hit all the same tips I would have given! 🙂 WTG!

    And you have some GREAT shots of your kitties!

    • Ihavecat

      Wow Lizzy! Thanks so much! I am truly flattered! I’m sure your camera is a lot larger than mine! What I haven’t managed to do in all my years living in NYC is to keep a camera in my purse at all times – talk about having missed out on some AMAZING shots!

  • This is a GREAT post!! Thanks for the inspiration and the guide on capturing some excellent cat pics.

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks Brad! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for leaving a comment!

  • kinkstar

    Your kitties are all sooo adorable! Although I don’t use my camera as much as I used to, back before the World WILD Web, but your tips could easily have come from me.

    Eventually I’ll get around to snapping my clutter of catZ, but until then, I’ll keep enjoying seeing those online who OWN people like you!


    • Ihavecat

      Aw thanks so much kinkstar – for the compliment and for taking the time to post a comment! 2 of them are mine. The “mini-petie” was one of my fosters Marvin (hysterical name for a kitten right?) and the one with the blue eyes was one of my fosters who passed away 🙁 Lucky he had a wonderful forever home before he died. Sigh…i have lots of fodder with the fosters and all!

  • I’m what you might consider a part-time professional photographer – I’ve had photos published in magazines and books, been hired for jobs and won a few awards, but it’s not my full-time profession (I write and edit for that). And these are great tips. A couple things I would add:

    1. Be willing to spend a little money for your camera. For cats and other active, busy creatures (including kids and dogs), a point-and-shoot camera is actually better than a DSLR. But don’t buy the cheapest point-and-shoot there is. Get one with some features, like a good macro, maybe burst (several photos, one right after another), good zoom (so you can shoot from a distance and not interrupt the action) and a camera that shoots off the photos fairly quickly (there’s nothing more frustrating that a really long digital delay). Plus video, because you will want to capture your guys in motion occasionally. If you can get a camera with an aperture that goes as low as 2.8, great! because I find that I shoot a lot of indoor cat photos at ISO 400 at f2.8 – over 400 and it can get awfully grainy and you lose detail. All that will probably cost you up to $200 or maybe more – but you will see a big difference in the photos. And if you want to shoot more than just cats – your travels, or other subjects that interest you – you will be prepared. At the same time, you don’t have to spend four or five hundred bucks – that’s overkill unless you are a serious hobbyist or inching towards pro level.

    2. A big tip I figured out on my own, but that pros I know who shoot off-the-cuff use: the timer! When you’re shooting at lower speeds ( 1/15 to 1/50 of a second), put your camera on a timer so that it goes off in 2 seconds. That way you don’t get camera motion blur from pushing down on the button. This really helps when you are not using flash. (Of course this is best with a resting cat – when it is leaping around, you have to go with faster speeds, and a higher ISO.) And always brace yourself against something if you can to keep still as possible. In the olden days (pre-digital) photographers had a hard time shooting under 1/60th of a second without motion blur. It’s much easier to shoot a focused digital shot these days.

    Other than those two things, you know what? You’ve pretty much got it covered! And yes, you do have great kitty photos here.

    • Ihavecat

      Totally agree regarding delay – it’s sooo annoying when it takes a long time. That’s one thing I def looked into before getting my camera.

      Now you lost me wiht the ISO! Not sure what/if my camera has that! Or the option to change my ISO!

      I also like the ability to take multiple shots one after another.

      Hadn’t thought to use the timer though..interesting..will have to experiment.

      Thanks for your tips! And as always, for visiting and taking the time to comment!


    • Rebecca Wagner

      @ IHC: aha – here I thought my 10x optical zoom camera would do the trick; now I know what I’ve been doing wrong to get the great nose & angle shots. When looking at the better pics of them, I was doing at least one of things you mentioned – it all makes sense now!

      @Janiss – My sentiments exactly about the camera. I treated myself to the Panasonic LUMIX, which is great at getting the outdoor shots when they’re up in the trees, and I always keep it set on burst mode – a necessity for moving animals. The video quality is ok, but could be better (either that or I’m not doing something right while taking them, a definite possibility since I never really understood the ISO thing either). I’m thinking about getting one of those Flip recorders for that, then I wouldn’t have to keep switching settings on the camera, or forgetting I have it on video when I want to take a picture. Plus I’d have the added bonus of having one of them handy for that ‘kodak moment.’ And like you said, when I’m not taking a thousand pics of my kitties, it does everything I need for when I’m at baseball games or on vacation. I’m constantly saying to myself or others how much I love my camera.

      I’ll add my 2 cents on the tip department: get a second battery (if your camera has a unique one like mine does), that way you’ll always have one charged and ready to go for those times when you’re in the middle of a ‘shoot’ and that nasty red flashing battery icon comes up. If your camera takes AAA’s or AA’s, invest in rechargeable batteries & charger; it’ll save you a ton of money in the long run, and you’ll never run out of batteries – worse case scenario you just don’t have them charged yet. And need I mention how much you’d be helping the environment too?

      As for deleting – I have a very hard time deleting the bad/blurry pictures of the cats; I keep them for my viewing pleasure only; when I do browse through them they help remind me of the moment and how much fun we were having. Plus I know that when the kitties are long gone, I’m going to want every possible image of them, even the blurry ones. My little shrine to my past dearly departed ones is a small photo box with all of their pictures & their ashes and whiskers (yes, I save their whiskers!) – the pictures only take up half of the box, and many of them are blurry or not quite right ‘cos we didn’t have the advantage of digital cameras back then. I so love living in the digital age!

      Thank you all for the excellent tips 😀

      • I HAVE CAT

        Wow Rebecca, I think YOU should have written this post! You know much more about cameras than I do!
        Regarding the FLIP I have one but it isn’t the best for taking indoor footage of cats unless you are in a really bright room. I know Kodak has a similar gadget you might wanna see if that’s any better?
        I hear you on the blurry photos…..sometimes they can be cool in their own way 🙂

  • Our Photoguy is just lazy. He makes lots of low angle photo’s, but never lays down. He just holds the camera to ground level and tries untill he gets it just right.

    • Ihavecat

      LOL that’s pretty funny! Well he seems to do a pretty good job even though he isn’t dedicated enough to the craft to get down on his belly! LOL!

      Hey, who over at your place had babies?! I didn’ t know anyone was preggers! how exciting!

      • Arf.

        Both girls had kittens. Photoguy is not happy about it, but then he should have taken preventive action sooner.

    • Ihavecat

      oh my! is daddy going to take care of that now I hope?!

  • great tips..i also have a canon power shot’s an A560.

    i never did figure out how to crop my photos..

    do you do it with your camera or do you use your photo application on you computer????? i just have the basic Adobe PhotoShop on my computer.

    i just shot and shot and shot till something looks good .
    TG for digital…

    Mimi and the kids

    • Ihavecat

      Hi Mimi, sorry, I should have clarified. I just crop them in-frame when I take the picture! I agree you have to take LOTS of photos to get one good one. Hey, don’t forget they take tons of pictures of the models just to get a good one!

      Sorry I haven’t been in touch with you via FB. I haven’t forgotten you i promise!

  • tortiekeiko

    Those are FANTASTIC pics and tips. Thank you so much!

    • Ihavecat

      Thank you so much Tortie Keiko! Hope you come back again soon!

  • A new career for you !

    • Ihavecat

      Ha! Think i need a bit more training! It is fun though 🙂

  • Great tips! Now I know what to look for in my next camera. I have a zoom, which is great, but there are other features I’d like to have.

    • tamcalinyc

      Glad you found it helpful! Thanks for posting!

  • DomieM

    Thanks so much for the tips!
    I definitely need a new camera though 😉

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks for commenting! Glad you enjoyed the post! You can get a good one for under $200 for sure!

  • Bea

    Lovely photos indeed, it also helps all cats are beautiful!!

    I’m far from a professional but I’d add:
    – use a good camera as Janiss said (I’ve got a so called “bridge” camera, not a point-n-shoot, not quite a DSLR but with several speed, exposure etc settings you can control)
    – knowledge of cat behaviour, so you can kinda anticipate what they’ll do next – my cat is a camera slut, the Zoolander of cats, so I have it easy LOL!
    – always try unusual angles! Use macro lenses or setting for eye/nose/paw details
    – Photo editing software is your friend! Learn to use it not necessarily to completely transform the photo (unless you’re after an artistic feel), but to enhance and correct.

    I’ve won a few competitions and had a few photos published in magazines and books, but I take LOTS of shots, usually only between 5%-10% are usable for other people viewing purposes, the rest are just for my own enjoyment and memories 🙂

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks for your tips! I love that your cat is the “zoolander” of cats! Love it!
      I don’ t think my camera is a “bridge” camera but it seems to work fine for my needs. At least for now!
      What kind of photo editing software would you recommend?

      • Bea

        Seriously, I get the camera out to take photos of something else, and there he is posing, it’s unbelievable!
        I noticed a massive improvement on my photos with a better camera, but it is huge and I keep getting new lenses and bags and accessories… I just can’t have it on me at all times when I’m out, that’s the downside!
        I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 mostly because I’ve been using versions of Photoshop for years so I’m well used to it, besides I got this one as a present (it’s expensive stuff!), but even the one that comes with Picasa is decent enough! There are plenty of free and low cost editing software available, it’s just a matter of trying and see which one meets your needs!

    • Ihavecat

      Bea! I just went to your Flickr page! You take AMAZING pictures! You put me to shame! What was I thinking trying to give photo tips! OMG! What kind of photograph do you have? I am posting a link to your Flickr on my FB page asap!

      • Bea

        LOL! You silly woman! Having a willing model always help 🙂 I have an old-ish Fujifilm Finepix S6500 but desperately wanting their new HS10…
        Thank you so much for the FB link, lovely comments, I’m blushing!!!

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  • These photos are gorgeous. I thought for sure you had a professional quality camera, based on some of the photos I’d seen on your site.

    Flash is definitely the biggest challenge when it comes to taking pictures of cats. I’ve also found that some cats seem to get what I call ghost cat eyes, and others don’t. It must have something to do with the curve of their retina, maybe.

    • Ihavecat

      Aw thanks Ingrid! I just take a lot of photos at lots of different angles! I took my laptop to the MAC store not so long ago and was a tad embarassed by the numer of cat photos on my harddrive! LOL

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  • These pics are a riot! And very good! I take pics of my clients pets for my pet sitting web site. Getting the occasional great photo always brings a huge smile to my face. We have five cats with us and love to photograph them. Thanks to digital photography, the lousy ones don’t cost so much!!! Delete!!!!

    Love your blog!

    • Ihavecat

      HI Sharon! Thanks so much for visiting IHC not to mention taking the time to leave a comment! It means so much that you enjoy my blog! Yay! I hear you on the DELETEs! LOL

  • I am with Janiss – a point and shoot will work great – I have an SLR and sometimes it is a pain in the butt, even on automatic, with cats. I have point and shoots but they are old and have a delay – which is why it took me so long to get a digital in the first place (I am still a film girl at heart and could never get rid of my film cameras). I use my dad’s old philosophy (he was a great photographer) – if it doesn’t look good get rid of it before anyone else sees it! I also think that natural light is best but for those of us where it isn’t an option (my house is usually dark even with the curtains open because of trees and a north/south exposure) where you have to use flash, if there is any way to try and get the photos in quick succession sometimes that gets rid of the laser eye. Sometimes. And with a black cat, well, you need a lot of light or they can look like a blob with eyes. I used to worry about the laser eyes but now it doesn’t really bother me – blurry is my issue – drives me crazy! Autofocus doesn’t always focus where you want it – so always take a couple if they look super cute just to be safe!!

    • Ihavecat

      But I feel like it doesn’t look like them when they have laser eyes! Although, when I was at BlogPaws I saw that KODAK now has a setting on their photo kiosks that treats ANIMAL EYE! It’s just for dogs and cats and it really works! I’ll post the picture I took that they fixed on my blog at some point so everyone can see!

  • Excellent tips, all! My husband being a talented and professional photographer, I have often commented that I think we have the world’s most photographed cats. He would have given very much the same advice you did. See my Facebook page for his photos.

    • Ihavecat

      Oh! I will certainly check out your photographs! Don’t show mine to your hubby given that he is a professional and all! Thanks for visiting my blog Sharon, and for taking the time to comment!
      Be sure to sign up for email updates if you haven’t already 🙂

  • jmuhj

    WOW! Some really great shots there — I can see why you’re being encouraged to go pro. These are very personable and fetching portraits (and it looks like Petie got the worst of a claw there…awww!)

    • Ihavecat

      Awww thank you VERY much , that means a lot! I am for personality for sure!

      Petie DEF got the wrong end of a claw! I think it was my sister’s cat Birdie…..but of course SHE thinks he did it to himself! LOL NOT!
      THanks for being such a loyal reader and for taking the time to post comments!

  • Your pictures are great! Hope all is well with you! Are you going to Blogpaws West?

    Woofy Woo!
    Lookie Lou and the Crew

    • Ihavecat

      Awww thanks! I’m not sure but I’m guessing probably so! you?

  • Those are great tips and some really gorgeous pictures! I really like the ones taken from floor level. They seem to capture a special kitty moment rather than interrupt it. Lovely pictures!

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks so very much! That means a lot 🙂
      OF course I think the pics are special but then again I’m bias given the subject matter. So it’s really nice to hear you enjoy them too!

  • These pictures are the best cat photos I’ve ever seen- so much that I ordered this same camera today! Not a day, often not even an hour goes by that I don’t take pics of my cat. But they are not anywhere near this quality! I am really psyched about this! There is nothing more precious and inquisitive than the gaze of a cat just being a cat! I typically grab my cell phone or older digital camera but the quality is not there. If only I had pictures like this of my previous beloved cats- all of them unique and special, well, I would give anything to have more pictures like this. So tomorrow is never too late to start getting better pictures. These are amazing.

    • Ihavecat

      Karen! What a lovely note you left for me! I’m flattered and excited that YOU are excited! You will have to share your photos on the I HAVE CAT facebook fan page! I’m sure if you read the guide that comes with the camera you will do 100% better than I did (I didn’t read it at all!). Enjoy and have fun!

  • mar

    Great tips!
    I got a little sad when I saw Bobby Cat. 🙁
    I forgot the kitty under the bed…is that Bridget???

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks little sis 🙂
      I know, BC! Wahhh…good kitty. I’m glad I included his picture though. In his memory. I love him!
      Yes! Bridget is the cat under the door!

  • Great tips! I do the crawl on the belly one myself 🙂

    • Ihavecat

      lol! Love it! Thanks for commenting!

  • awwwww what a pawsome post. I love the tips and the photos :).

    • tamcalinyc

      Thank you thank you! Glad you enjoyed!

  • I love the pictures on your blog. Thanks for the great cat photography tips! I’ve been caught many times taking pictures while lying on the floor, angled into the bottom of a cat tree, etc. at our animal shelter. 🙂

    • tamcalinyc

      Awwww that’s the best way to get a good shot! You are truly committed! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to post a comment! 🙂

    • tamcalinyc

      And THANK YOU for the compliment 🙂

  • Very cute pictures, Tamar! Love to see the unusual angles on your kitties faces!


    • Ihavecat

      awww, thanks Daniela for the sweet compliment and for always being such a great supporter 🙂
      much appreciated!

  • Wow, they are some stunning pictures. I’ve got a lot of our cat but probably none that good. He’s mostly only good for still shots lately now that he’s getting older 😉

    • Ihavecat

      aw thanks! but the ones that don’t move a lot are the easiest to capture! tehe!

  • Those are such great tips. Lots of great tips from everyone. You really have some great pictures. I will have to try some of these ideas.
    Have a great day.

    • tamcalinyc

      Thanks so much! Glad you found it useful!

  • These are some wonderful and adorable photos and your advice was great for all of us novice kitty photographers out there!

    Believe it or not I have also taken some great shots of my cats with just my phone in my camera!

    I didn’t read the other comments so if someone else already said the same thing, sorry!!

    • Ihavecat

      thanks Caren! Not sure how this post was sent out since it’s an old one. WordPress is being weird! I’m glad you liked the post though! Don’t be sorry if someone said the same thing – the more the merrier! the great thing about a cell phone camera is that it’s usually always around!

  • jmuhj

    Inspired and inspiring work — LOVE those “in their face” close-ups, and who could possibly resist those noses?

    • Ihavecat

      Thanks so much Jmuhj! It’s so odd though, I’m not sure how this post was sent out to everyone since it’s not a new one! It happened by itself some how!

  • Shari Larsen

    I love your pictures!
    I agree that a good camera makes a difference too, but on the other hand, it’s hard to get a bad photo when your subject is so cute!

    I always have my camera where I can grab it in a hurry to capture those moments of cuteness. Some of my best cat photos where those that were unplanned.

    • I HAVE CAT

      Aw thanks Shari! I have a point-and-shoot that was prob around $200 bucks so it’s good but not professional by any means! Have a great holiday!

  • Rebecca

    Thanks so much for posting this information – I am learning a lot from both what you wrote and everyone’s comments. I know cat photos are so hard. Mine almost always moves when I get the camera out – she seems to know what I’m up to and will inevitably stop doing the incredibly cute thing she was doing and start moving or licking her butt, or just turn her back.

    I have a reasonably good Canon point & shoot but I kind of broke it on a job – I was juggling about three cameras and accidentally pressed on the back display with my thumb. Oops. It still works but with no display, and it has never quite been the same since because now for some reason it keeps switching into video mode on its own. So I’ve been thinking I should invest in a new camera but just don’t relish the thought of the week’s worth of research I know it will take me before I can make up my mind what to buy. The comments here help a lot.

    I was a photography student back in the “old days” of film and my teacher announced, “I don’t want to see pictures of anybody’s cat.” I still kept taking them, of course!

    • I HAVE CAT

      That’s funny about your photography teacher! Good think you didn’t listen to him/her!

  • Rebecca

    p.s. I totally forgot to write what I was going to say, which is that I agree about the importance of having the camera handy! Also I think the “burst” feature is a great idea. I’m going to look for a camera that has that.

  • Sharon

    You do take beautiful kitty photos, Tamar. Maybe your friend has a point!

    • I HAVE CAT

      Thanks Sharon! 🙂 Easier for me as my cats are not black (that takes much more talent!)