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How to Shoot Beautiful Cat Portraits

The internet loves cats, as do most people! Getting a beautiful portrait of your cat can be incredibly tough for most of us. Sometimes they won’t stop moving around, they’re too dark, or we can’t hold their attention. But a little bit of pet psychology can help here. We’re going to give you a short tutorial on how to shoot beautiful cat portraits you’ll love.

Get Low and Hold Their Attention

First off, get down low to the floor with them. Ideally, get down to eye-level Once you have your position ready, have some sort of treat with you. Hold it on top of the camera lens and tell your cat to stay still. Putting it right on top of the camera lens will make them look essentially into the camera. Your cat will open up their eyes to pay close attention to the treat. Your camera will focus on those big, gorgeous eyes to give you a beautiful portrait that you can then use for your phone’s background.

Use Animal Autofocus with Eye Detection

Lots of modern cameras have animal autofocus and can detect what your cat’s face will look like. Be sure to use it. Combine it with your continuous autofocus setting and you’ll always have your cat’s beautiful face in focus. Because your cat is probably going to move about, you should use the AF-C setting to keep their face in focus. Traditionally, lots of photographers would use the AF-S setting. But these days, AF-C is the way to go with how camera technology has evolved.

A Fast Shutter Speed

One of the most important parts of shooting beautiful cat portraits is the shutter speed. The secret to shooting beautiful cat portraits is the following:

  • A fast shutter speed: This will stop any sort of blur from fast motion movement or camera shake. For good measure, I’d try to get at least 1/1000th if you’re not using a flash. If you’re using a flash, the flash’s short duration should stop the blur.
  • A high ISO setting of at least ISO 1600
  • An aperture of around f2.8 or narrower to ensure the cat’s face is in focus

Front Lighting

Here’s a big part of how to shoot beautiful cat portraits: the lighting. We prefer to use off-camera, artificial lighting if we’re indoors. Make sure that the lighting and diffusion is larger than the cat itself to give the look of softer light. Also try to separate them from the background as much as possible. 

Get the Right Gear

If you’re using a Sony camera, then you’re in luck. Here are a few lenses we recommend for those who want to shoot beautiful cat portraits:

  • Tamron 35-150mm f2-2.8 Di III VXD: This lens is so awesome for shooting cat portraits because of its versatility. Wide open at 35mm, you’ll get an f2 aperture for shooting a wider photo. But if you want to zoom it, you’ll lose only one-stop of light. For the price, you’re getting one of the best lenses on the market right now.
  • Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III VXD G2: Lightweight and versatile, nothing quite beats a constant aperture lens when it comes to ease of use. And this has to be one of our most recommended lenses. For the price, it’s going to serve you incredibly well.

This piece is presented in partnership with TAMRON. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed the products in this post already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you.

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