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Take Way Better Photos of Your Cat

9 tips from photographer Grace Chon that will drastically improve your cat photos

By: Grace Chon

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Photographed by Grace Chon

 Ah, the quest for great photos of your cat, ones that capture just how adorable/goofy/sage/busy/sleepy/loved  she is. Your cat, needless to say, is super photogenic, but, if you’re like most of us, attempts to capture those good looks on camera are often bedeviled by poor lighting, a cluttered background, and blurred motion. We asked the super-talented Grace Chon, an LA-based animal, lifestyle, and celebrity photographer, for 9 tips to drastically improve your cat photos. Get ready to wow your Facebook and Instagram followers with some really cute shots!

1. Follow the Light
“Always shoot where you get the best light. Usually this ends up being with your cat facing a window, which I like to call ‘glamour lighting’ because your cat ends up being evenly lit in the front and the background can drop off into darkness. Natural light is always much more important than location! If your place is nice and bright, try to keep indoor lights off to avoid having a sickly yellow colour-cast to your images.”

2. Models Like to Eat. Really.
If your cat is food motivated, bring out his absolute favourite snacks, like dehydrated fish treats or boiled chicken breast. Always reward positive behaviour like sitting still or looking directly into the lens and give small morsels to keep the shoot fun and your cat motivated and engaged. Treats are great for controlling eye line too—hold it where you’d like your cat to be looking in the shot, and after a few frames pay your model for his hard work with a tasty bite. If you want your cat to look into the lens, hold the treat right above the camera lens. If you want him looking above or out of the frame, hold the treat where his eyes should be.”

3. A Meaningful Spot
“It’s always extra special if you can shoot in your cat’s favourite location. Maybe this is her favourite chair or usual perch at the window. Not only will she be happy and relaxed, you’ll capture moments that memorialize her in a place that’s special to you both.”

4. Stage your Shot
“Home staging can make your photos look polished and professional. Be sure to de-clutter the background and bring in props like colourful pillows, a sheepskin rug or fresh flowers to create a shot that looks stylish and finished. You can add some extra whimsy by decorating with pennant banners, paper garlands, and confetti. It always helps to have some colour coordination, so if your cat’s collar or toys can coordinate with the decorations in your home, you’ll look like you had an art director help you get the shot.”

5. Use Props
“Add fun flair to your shots by using toys and other props. Get creative with things like a pair of 70s sunglasses or maybe a heart-shaped helium balloon tied to your cat’s collar. If sweet and silly isn’t your style, you can incorporate more meaningful props like your cat’s favourite toy, or select props that tell your cat’s story.”

6. Up Close and Personal
“Don’t forget to take detail shots! Shoot a close up of your cat’s nose or a close up of fur. Take a photo of her paw pads or the curves of velvety ears. Remember all the little details that make up your cat and photograph all the special places you love to kiss and adore. Even shots of your cat’s bowls, collars, and toys will someday make a very special memory.”

7. Make Some Noise + Use Some Toys
“To get shots of those adorable head tilts and perked up ears, try making some funny sounds to get your cat’s attention. The trick is to make each sound sparingly and move onto the next one once your cat grows tired of it because new sounds get old really fast. Other things you can use are crinkly paper bags, bells and wand toys to get your cat’s attention. You also can try playing him sounds of cats meowing or yowling. That always gets a cat’s attention, fast!

8. Shoot Fast and Furious
“Be sure to take lots and lots of frames. That way you can be sure to capture a shot that’s in focus and with your cat looking where you want, doing what you want. And when you shoot a lot of frames, you end up getting images that you never could have thought of shooting. Amazing moments happen in a fraction of a second!”

9. Change Your View
“Try seeing your cat from a completely different angle. Have them lounge on a chair and photograph them from below. Try laying down and shoot up at your cat. If you try to see their world from a completely different view, you’ll end up with creative and interesting shots that tell your cat’s story from an unusual perspective.”

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