Capturing the personality, cuteness, and innocence of a kitten in a photograph is something truly amazing and quite challenging at the same time. Kittens are quickly moving and always on the run so taking photographs of them is a learning process for everyone.
It’s something that I am sure we all struggle with at some point. Everyone wants their pictures to be top tier, I know we did when we started taking them. When looking online there are many different types of pictures people will share of their kittens. Some “posed”, some candid, everyone has a different take on it. We personally try to share a mix of both.
When it comes to candid though, I am a bit picky. In my opinion, the background should be clear. No one wants to see a dirty litter box, empty cans of food, dirt, or clutter in the background of the picture. The kittens should be clean, free of any dirt especially on their face, clean/combed fur. Of course when kittens are very little, they might have some food on them. That’s understandable, anything beyond that to me is not. I don’t use the flash on any pictures, I use an iPhone for candid pictures with natural or overhead lights.
Another part to candid, I really love getting pictures at shows. Whether that’s the cats at the table/tent with us, in the ring, or with a judge. You can ask anyone, I am always the first person to video and photograph everything. By doing this I can keep up with who the cats have seen before but, also just capture the experience. I love sharing the cats playing on the table, sleeping in the tent, or being judged. I think this really opens your eyes to what cats are truly capable of achieving. So think of these like “action shots”
“Posed” pictures require more preparation. Anytime we take pictures with a backdrop, the kittens are fully groomed (bathed & blow dried). Though this can be very time consuming, I think it makes the pictures look better. It also helps the kittens get adjusted to being groomed. For these pictures, I use a camera and lighting. Generally no natural lighting, the studio lights are enough.
Camera & Lighting
What kind of camera should you use to photograph your kittens? While you can use a phone or camera, cameras do offer higher quality photos. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube and various other platforms that explain how to take better pictures on your phone, and also how to take pictures on the specific camera. We currently use a Canon Rebel T6 DSLR Camera with a Canon EF50mm f/1.8 lens. This is a fairly inexpensive, great starter camera.
For shows, I will use my phone or camera. The lens varies a bit based off of how close I can get. So for shows, we either use the Canon EF50mm f/1.8 lens or the Canon EF75-300mm lens. I do not use additional lighting when the cats are in the rings as to not draw attention to the camera or scare any of the cats.
What kind of lighting should you use? This depends on the picture, for candid pictures I use overhead lights & natural light. For “posed” pictures with a camera, I use small studio lights. You can easily purchase these on Amazon. If the pictures need more light, I have a separate light to go on the camera. These will be linked at the bottom.
Backdrops, what works best for kittens? We personally use a multitude of different fabrics, most commonly jersey material or velvet. For the table the kittens sit on, either the same fabric as the backdrop or a blanket of similar color. We use clips to hold the back drop in place on the stand and on the table so it does not slide around with the kittens. You can find the backdrops, clips, and stands on Amazon. We use a folding table for the kittens to sit on that way it can be packed away once we are done. Most of the fabric we buy at a craft store like Hobby Lobby.
When picking a background color, think of what would compliment the kitten/cat’s color best. If it’s a lighter color kitten, you may want to use a darker background. If it’s a darker color kitten, you may want to use a lighter background. We take pictures mostly with a black background or a festive background depending on holidays. You can easily take pictures of darker kittens with a darker background, just work on adjusting your lighting.
This setup is also fairly inexpensive, though makes the difference in pictures.
Watermarking & Logos
When you are done taking your pictures, make sure to add a watermark to the photo. We add ours to the corner of all pictures. This will reduce the risk of your photos being used to scam others. You can create a simple transparent watermark on Adobe, then add it to your photo. We use “Lucki Maine Coons” or in the past “LMC”, using the app “Phonto” to add the watermark to all of our pictures. I prefer a more transparent look instead of the large text across photos. I think it looks more professional and it doesn’t take away from the picture while still serving it’s purpose.
As I mentioned above, anytime we are taking “posed” pictures the kittens are always fully groomed. This is a great way to help the kittens be/stay adjusted to being groomed. We clip nails, bathe all of the kittens, and dry them with our pet dryer. It is much easier to take pictures of them once they are chilled out from being groomed so, we normally groom then let them play for 20 minutes or so. When we are ready to take the pictures, the kittens are combed and ready to go.
It is important to have plenty of entertainment when taking their pictures, so we have a supply of them. Some balls with bells, crinkle toys, wand toys, lasers, whatever gets their attention best. This varies from kitten to kitten so you must be patient.
This method of picture taking has brought us success. At first it is a bit difficult but, with time it will be easy. It has really made a difference and kitten families do really appreciate the “posed” pictures of their babies. We definitely are not pros, however I think we have significantly improved from the start. These are just a few pictures we’ve taken, “posed”, candid, and at shows. With time will come great photos, no matter how you decide to take them.
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