Compose a Good Rescue Cat Photo

Many visitors and potential adopters have admired the pictures of our rescues by Boprey Photography and wondered how photographers get such great pictures. You think, I can never do that and you feel discouraged but don’t give up.

One of the most important photography ideas you might not know about but will enjoy playing around with is the art of composition.

You don’t just point the camera or smartphone, shoot a picture and hope. You make a conscious effort to place your cat (or a rescue candidate) nicely in the ‘frame’ of your picture.

Rockstar photographed by © Boprey
Rockstar photographed by © Boprey Photography. Perfect movie star material!

It’s surprising how many different tricks there are to help you compose a good cat photo. Let’s look at some so you can make your cat pictures better.

What is Photographic Composition?

Pointing your camera and hoping might some of the time but if you want an image to touch hearts you need to think like a photographer like Bophrey. Think composition until it becomes part of your picture taking mindset.

Composition Tips 

You will have come across some of these ideas before. Maybe in an art class, or online creative tutorial but they all give you something to focus on and make your pictures better.

Rule of Thirds

Your photograph can be divided into nine rectangles or blocks into lines of threes. Where these blocks meet are the totally awesome spots for good photographs. You don’t need to be a slave to the Rule, but it’s a good place to start from.

The lines don’t just point to good spots to position your cat, they also help you balance your composition. Salem, the black cat in this photograph, is off-centre and the picture shows the line of seats receding into the distance. It looks dramatic and pretty cool.

Rule of Thirds Sample
(c) at Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe

Points of interest placed in the crossed line intersections can your photo become more balanced.

Fill The Frame

This means right to the edge of your photograph. Filling it means getting really close to your cat. You can do this by zooming with a DSLR, a point and shoot or a smartphone digital zoom. Or you can point your camera close to your cat’s nose. And, yes with some laid back breeds this will work.

Smartphone Movie Cat

Don’t Cut off Your Cat’s Ears

This is so easy to do. Now every earless picture will look as soon as the golden-eyed beauty above. You think your picture is carefully framed then this happens. It can be frustrating. Phoebe was not happy to be the victim of such a disaster from her favourite pet photographer.

How to Compose Cat Photographs- Don't crop off the ears

Instead of zooming in with my lens, I tried physically to get a bit closer to take the portrait. As you can see I got too close and her ear tips have disappeared. Maybe she senses it, from that suspicious look.

In contrast, this picture of Sparkle a lovely tortie is much better and, even though this photograph ignores the Rule of Thirds, it is sharp and clear and has two ears. There are times when rules can be broken, and this was one such occasion.

Cat Photograph Composition Sparkle the tortie closeup
Sparkle the Tortoiseshell Cat DSLR AV mode (c)

Depth of Field

or Keep Your Background Tidy!

Depth of field is, for beginners, the soft background focus that you see of many photographs online and in the magazines you read. It works great for cat portraits too.

TIP: When you compose a cat photo be aware of the background. How tidy is it?

With a DSLR you can find your ‘instant soft background’ as a mode or camera pre-set called AV (Canon) or A (Nikon & others).

Compact cameras don’t have this luxury but a good workaround is to use a filter that softens the edges of your picture.

Always give your camera modes a try – they might surprise you especially as a newbie. This works for compacts and DSLR cameras

Camera Pre-Sets

If you are worried about adjusting camera settings and composing pictures at the same time, set your camera to AUTO or another favourite pre-set like AV mode.

Then you concentrate on framing your picture and composing a shot without worry. Incorporate adjustments to settings when you have learned about them. Take it step-by-step.

As I take lots of cat pictures I leave my DSLR camera in Av mode but this next picture is not composed and definitely does not have not good settings! But, you know what?

There are times when just getting the picture is all that matters. You have a moment to take the picture, so just point the camera and take the picture.

Moving composition Miranda the Leaping Cat

It is still a really fun picture because my rescue kitty was leaping a gap nearly 7 feet wide.

Miranda also jumps with all four paws do your cats do that too?

Let me know in the comments!


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