Kittens are bouncy, boisterous, and a little crazy (let’s admit it!). But capturing those quick little critters is the joy of many cat lovers and feline enthusiasts. But what’s the best way to photograph kittens? For starters, ensuring that camera settings are top notch is a great first step, followed by learning how to make sure the kittens are performing their best for the camera!
Here is our trusty guide on ten tips for capturing kittens on camera!
Tip 1: Continuous Focus and Nothing Else!
As any kitten lover can attest, they’re fast and spunky animals. As such, in order to land perfect focus on these small animals, you have to help your camera out. You can do so by switching to Continuous Focus.
By default, your camera is set to One-Shot right out of the box. One-Shot achieves automatic focus on your subject for only one image, best used when capturing still life or product photography. Not the case here of course! In the camera menu, go to Autofocus Settings and switch it over to Continuous / AI / AI – C / AI Servo / C mode (depending on camera brand).
Continuous Focus is when the camera’s focus keeps refocusing on the subject as it moves. This is great for action photography and is how sport photographers are able to capture sequences of movements! This mode excels for kittens, and some cameras can even allow you to select what kind of Continuous Focus you want to use (for kittens, usually switching to ‘erratic movement’ works well).
Tip 2: Burst Mode and Activating Frames-Per-Second
Secondly, activate your camera’s maximum capabilities. Every camera has something called FPS, or Frames-Per-Second. What this discloses is how many pictures a camera can snap per second of shooting.
To access this feature to its maximum potential, you have to go to the menu of your camera and set it to either “Burst Mode” or “High Speed Continuous Shooting” (depending on your camera brand). Your camera will then fire off as many photographs as it is capable of taking per second.
This is the real secret to capturing the incredible moments of kittens jumping, running, playing, and having a great time!
Tip 3: Fast Shutter Speed is Everything
Next, you’ll want to make sure that the camera is fast enough to capture the movement. In layman terms, shutter speed is how fast your camera can take a picture. In your settings or on the camera screen, this is denoted by 1/-insert number here-. The larger the number, the faster the shutter speed and the more frozen the action.
To freeze action, you’ll want to make sure the shutter speed is set to at least 1/800, but preferably faster! Shutter speed is adjusted based on the speed of your subject (as well as the available light).
Remember that shutter speed is just one variable of the exposure equation. Exposure is the amount of light that reaches your camera. Too much light and your image will be too bright. Too little, and it’ll be too dark.
Exposure is a formula: ISO + shutter speed + aperture = exposure.
Like a mathematical formula, if one variable is changed, the rest are affected by the change. As you change your shutter speed, you’ll also need to adjust your aperture and ISO to accommodate the shutter speed selection.
Tip 4: Tire the Kitten Out
A pet that is tired is less inclined to have the vitality to act up! A key tip in working with cats, kittens, and all domestic animals is getting them excessively worn out, making it impossible to apply their boisterous behavior or challenge staying still. Playing, running, and exercising the feline before a photo shoot will keep them mellower when it comes time to take the photos.
Tip 5: Convince the Kitten to Work For You
Did you know that you can actually convince the subject to do what you want? Working with animals requires some harmless manipulation tactics- you can help get them to look the direction you want, jump the direction you want, and look at the camera!
Use toys and treats to get the kitten to look at you, or toss a toy off to the side to have the kitten look in that direction. Be quick! Because that moment will be fleeting.
Tip 6: Use a Long Lens and Hide
If you want to capture those gorgeous candid moments, getting a telephoto or zoom lens may be a great idea! Go ahead and hide with a longer lens, then just begin watching their behavior and snapping beautiful candid moments.
Tip 7: New Toys are Always Awesome
Much like with children, new toys are super exciting while old toys are boring and uninteresting. For really enthusiastic play shots, try snapping photographs when introducing a new toy. That is bound to get some cute images!
Tip 8: Have Some Help
An assistant can always be helpful, especially if you’re photographing more than one kitten. Having a second pair of hands to hold the kitten, play with the kitten, or help get the kitten’s attention is very useful (especially if you’re trying to get portraits in a photo studio).
Just make sure the assistant is not scaring the baby cat or distracting!
Tip 9: Patience is Key
Patience is really the name of the game. Internet-fame worthy moments don’t just happen when you want them to, you have to be a bit like a lion stalking a gazelle- wait for the right moment to strike (or in this case, snap a photo)!
Being able to anticipate the action based on your observations is extremely helpful in candid photography. Even a simple course in feline behavior can help with this.
Tip 10: For Portraits, Groom the Kitten (Save Yourself the Photoshop Time)
Cleaning eye gunkies, brushing out mats, and cleaning off any food from the mouth reduces the amount of the time you’d be photoshopping the kitten to perfection! If you’re capturing portraits, you really want them to look their best.
In conclusion, utilizing the above ten tips is the key to kitten-photography-splendor!