How to Photograph a Cat

How to Photograph a CatYou’d imagine nothing would be easier, given the cat’s natural adorableness and all the funny cat photos clogging the internet these days. So we began all bright with optimism. Find cat, aim camera, and voila! Alas, no. We learned – and slowly – that it’s not so simple.

Adorable cat

Mae West, a naturally adorable cat.

 

Pixie is a natural star and very photogenic. She ended up being our cover cat.

Pixie is a natural star and very photogenic. She ended up being our cover cat.

First lesson: some cats are natural stars. They truly play to the camera, and the camera in turn loves them. But – just like with humans – being funny and adorable in real life is no guaranty of being a great photo subject. And you really never know which way it will go. This means you have to photograph a lot of cats, which is all to the good. The more the merrier.

Second lesson: Keep clicking. In the olden days of film, a roll allowed between 12 and 36 shots. We started taking pictures as if using film – 30 shots at a sitting seemed like plenty. We learned, of course, that in the digital world there’s no limit. Our later kitty photo sessions could produce as many as 300 shots. Sometimes it takes that many.

Alfie considers a wide variety of cat toys

Alfie considers a wide variety of cat toys.

Third lesson: if you want to see the little beasts in action you need catnip and a variety of cat toys. Because some cats do not respond to catnip, and though most will go wild with the feathers-on-a-fishing-pole toy, there are those who prefer a little catnip mouse or a crinkled-up bit of paper.

And finally there’s the magic of Photoshop, about which we will only say that we learned to use it and had a ton of fun with it.