Photographing cats: 9 proven pro tips on how to take much better photos right away

photographing your cat with a cell phone

Make beautiful photos yourself with cell phone or smartphone? Nothing easier than that! If you know a few basic rules of photography and take them to heart, you won’t need any expensive photographic equipment nowadays. Photographing cats, dogs and children made easy – the following 9 tricks show you how to do it

Many amateur photographers find it difficult to take attractive photos of pets and children. There are only a few rules to follow, which immediately lead to significantly better photographs.

If you know them, you’ll quickly realize that taking pictures is not that difficult. Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Apply the 3:3 rule

This is one of the most important rules of professional photographers. Your advantage: most smartphone cameras these days have a built-in feature that allows you to place a grid over the photo subject on the display.

With the 3:3 rule, you divide a subject into three vertical and three horizontal fields. Wherever lines meet, there is a point that is harmonious for the eye. At one of these places you should place the focus of your subject. In the example photo this is the eye of the cat.

Extra tip: If the camera function of your smartphone can’t put a 3:3 grid over the display, you can alternatively install the free mobile app Open Camera for Android, or VSCO for iOs.

2. Use at least one light source and avoid backlighting

photographing cats

Light makes photos look alive! If you want to take a picture of your cat, you should always make sure that it is NOT taken against the light.

This means: the light source (sun, window, lamp) must be at your back. If you try to shoot against the light, i.e. in the direction of the light source, all areas in front of it will be darkened automatically.

Extra tip: A small white light reflex in the eyes of your photo subject is popular with professional photographers. These points make photographs look particularly lively. In order to create this focus, your cat should look in the direction of your light source. You should position yourself slightly off to the side.

3. So your pet looks directly into the camera

photographing cats

If you want your photo subject to look directly into your camera, you usually have to help a bit. The easiest way to do this is to have an assistant at your side who can direct the pet’s attention.


If this is not the case, you have to come up with something yourself. If you want to influence where a cat looks during a photo shoot, it is best to use a toy on a rod:

cat photos game fishing rod helps

With such a toy (available here on Amazon) you can deliberately change the direction of your cat’s gaze as you want it for your photo subject.

In the video below, pet photographer Rachel Hale McKenna shows how she does the trick:

4. If you’re unsure: Always put your focus on the eyes of the animal

Remember tip 2, which was about using light reflections in the eyes to give your subject vibrancy?

When we look at a picture of a person or an animal, the eyes are usually the first thing that gets our attention. If you put the focus of your subject on the eyes, you will almost always get a satisfying shot. For a subject to be in focus, it is sufficient if at least one of the two eyes is in focus.

5. When photographing animals that are smaller than you, the following applies: You must get down on your knees!

photograph cats

The most beautiful shots are always taken when the photographer is at eye level with his subject. If you take photos from a standing position instead, you will create a visual dominance gradient without meaning to.

Pets automatically look inferior and not as if they are real family members. To avoid this, there is only one way: get down on your knees!

6. Give your subject a frame

cat photos

Photos look especially appealing when the main subject is given a kind of frame. In most cases, objects that are already in the room are sufficient for this purpose.

If you want to photograph your cat, blankets or pillows on the sofa, for example, can create a frame that makes the overall motif look much more harmonious at once. If the cat is photographed sitting on the windowsill, indoor plants or other decorations are also suitable for this purpose, for example.

Extra tip: Let your creativity run free and let your gaze wander! This way you will automatically discover new spots in your home that are suitable for taking great pictures of your pet.

7. Pay attention to contrasts


Your cat is black, or mostly black? Then the preferred color of your background should not also be black, or something else very dark. Your subject easily gets lost if it can’t stand out enough from the background.

Especially owners of red cats with light laminate flooring will know this problem: In photos it almost always looks as if the animals just disappear into the floor.

For most cats, a colored background is the best choice. If you want to create a calmer motif, you can do without colors. Instead, choose a larger distance between your pet and the surroundings. This way you can easily create a soft, blurry background.

8. When photographing cats, the following applies: flash is taboo!

photographing cats

Dogs and cats should never (really never!) take pictures with flash light. Cats in particular can be very irritated and frightened by bright light.

Fortunately, most cats are smart and will stop cooperating with the photographer as soon as they have been flashed a few times.

However, direct flash light also has a decisive disadvantage for the success of beautiful shots: photographs taken with the help of flash light can easily look very unnatural.

It’s best to always use a natural source for your pet shots. There is usually enough light near a window to take good photos.

9. Photographing little cats: How to take baby cat pictures

baby cats pictures

You just got a kitten home and want to show everyone how cute it is? It may not be very easy to take successful baby cat pictures.

The little ones are still very active and it’s hard to convince them to stay still for the moment of a photo. The best way to do this is when the cat is already a little tired.

The right background, such as a fluffy baby blanket, or a sheepskin, create the right mood for the baby shots. Move as close as possible to your subject to show as much of your little cat as possible. A too large distance causes that afterwards too much of the environment and too little of your actual motive is to be seen.

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