Photographing Cats: Tips From A Pro

Photographing CatsArtist, writer, photographer, Bernadette Kazmarski has been photographing cats since October, 1983, beginning with black and white film using her Pentax K1000 camera. Here are some tips, tricks and advice to getting the most out of photo sessions with your cats:

To get the best shots:

  • Use a digital single-lens reflex camera because you can change the lenses and zoom in a way that doesn’t distort your subject with, “foreshortening, as many point and shoot cameras and phone cameras do.”
  • Use a high-resolution setting and have the ability to manipulate a photo, such as being able to adjust the color or lighten up saturated dark areas.
  • Unless you want a real closeup, it’s best to, “stand farther away and zoom in on your cat to eliminate foreshortening.”
  • Don’t use a flash unless you absolutely have to do so. The flash gives cats “demon eyes” and, in the case of black cats,  “their highlights are so extreme because of all the black” and doesn’t look realistic.  A good reflector or a big piece of white cardboard may be used to reflect light on to a cat and make the best of light you have.

When photographing cats, to get their cooperation Ms. Kazmarski suggests you threaten them with no dinner. She also said, “I actually photograph my cats doing what they do, so in truth, I am cooperating with them, and that’s a very important thing to remember.” She lets her cats know how happy she is with them when they move in the direction she wants, so they, “tend to do what I request, and we get along fine.”

Kazmarski says to always have your camera ready to catch your cats in action.  Study your cats to find out what they do and, “experiment with settings and angles so that when a really good photo shoot comes along, you can anticipate their actions and you know how to get the shot.”  She often shakes waves or shakes things in front of her forehead so her cats look right at her eyes – whatever you choose, make sure it makes noises that attract them and compels them to keep looking.

When asked if Ms. Kazmarski finds some cats more photogenic than others, she replied that she thinks they’re all photogenic,

Some cats, like some people, look right at the camera or at you behind the camera, and you get a gorgeous view of their face. [While] some cats ignore you while playing [and] others stop playing and pose with a toy. This is what makes them lovely in photographs.

To learn more about Bernadette Kazmarski and her work, check out her blog, The Creative Cat, visit Fine Art America profile, or her Portraits Of Animals online store.


Photo Courtesy of Bernadette Kazmarski

Written by Stephanie Newman

Stephanie Newman

Stephanie is author of the blog, The Musings Of A Crazy Cat Lady, and a freelance writer whose work regularly appears on Stephanie’s work has been featured on Catster and in print in Natural Awakenings Pet – east Michigan and the Oakland Press newspaper. She’s a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, Inc. and a member of Pet Professionals for Pet Adoption.