Taking photos of cats can be difficult. They tend to want to do their own thing and can often turn away as soon as you get the camera out. There are lots of simple tricks and general advice below which you can employ to get that perfect photo for a portrait.
I have used one of our clients photos and their portrait as an example to give you an idea of the kind of photos we are looking for and what can be achieved. We understand that many of our clients come to us once their cats have sadly passed away. Ginger in the painting below, had sadly passed away, so we worked closely with the client to come up with a composition that allowed Ginger and Maggie to be together in the scene.
One of the main pieces of advice is that it's always best to take photos of your cats on their eye level. In the photo of Maggie below, we can see that the photo on the left makes for a lovely photo, however the photo on the right would be perfect for a portrait. Snapshots in time and photos suitable to draw and paint from can be very different.
As any cat owner will tell you, cats have their mad moments, but much of the time they love to curl up and sleep the day away. The photos of Ginger and Maggie asleep are just beautiful. If you would like a portrait showing your cats sleeping we can definitely paint or draw them like this, however most clients love to see their cats alert with shiny eyes. You can see in the photo on the right, Ginger and Maggie are relaxed but wide awake and alert, this can often make for a better portrait.
Although the photo below isn’t ideal for a portrait, it does show how beautiful cats can look in natural daylight. Its always best to avoid using the flash on your camera as it can alter the eyes and texture of the cats fur. We only have your photos to go by and it is really important to use natural light to help capture your cat in the best possible way. Natural light is imperitive if you are using a mobile phone or tablet as their lenses aren’t as good as those on digital cameras, so they need to have the best possible light to get a good quality photo.
This brings me nicely onto the kind of camera you are using. Ultimately if you do have a digital camera, or you can borrow one, you will get a far better quality photo using it. It is possible to get good photos from mobiles and tablets and we draw and paint from them quite often. However there is a difference in quality. If you look at the two photos below, the left hand photo was taken with a Samsung Mobile and the right hand photo was taken with a Nikon Coolpix digital camera. The lenses are far superior and pick up detail and sharpness of the subject. Digital cameras aren’t that expensive these days, you can buy them very cheaply online, you can also purchase second hand ones on Amazon or eBay. Don’t forget we do improve on photos in our artwork, however we can't put things into a portrait that aren't visible in your photos.
If you are using a digital camera, a zoom is a great option to use as you can get closer without getting too close to your cat. Do be wary though if you are using a mobile or tablet as if you use your fingers to zoom in on the screen, you are lowering the resolution of the image. So when using a mobile device, we suggest avoiding zoom, instead take a step forward if you can.
Having someone to help you take photos is a great idea. It can be really handy if they have some smelly treats too, cooked chicken works well. If you can make a squeaking noise with your mouth, this will alert the cat and make it look towards you, without them coming over...hopefully!
Keep photoshoots short, particuarly if they are starting to get fed up with all of the attention. It's better to have your camera handy over a number of days and take a few pictures as and when. You may find that there will be a moment in the day where your cat is in the ideal position and you will be able to take the perfect photo.
Here you can see the final painting of Ginger and Maggie painted by Nicholas Beall in oils on canvas 18 x 14. However you choose to take photos, we do wish you the best of luck. If you would like to email us the photos you have we can take a look at them for you and give you our advice. We are always happy to be on hand to help get the ultimate photo for a portrait!