PHOTOGRAPHER-nicolas-tanguy-cat -angorra-studio-background-black-and-white
Today we will see how to make a beautiful photo of a cat, or a dog for that matter, in his apartment or house. Cats can be easier to photograph than dogs because they are generally less « restless”.
Before you start, note that you don’t need to have a large space to take these kinds of photos. The important thing is to be inventive and to respect certain rules. Make it clean and simple with minimum distractions.
I made this series, with Duchess, a few months ago, when the light was low and the outside temperature too.
Here is a little reminder of my shooting habits:
– I don’t shoot with a flash because there are fewer parameters to manage and the rendering is more natural.
– I avoid photographing my subject from above in a “sky view”way. This is not very natural. It is better to be at animal height.
– I manage my backlights. I don’t let the “auto” mode choose the exposure.
– I take care of the background: a tidy house and preferably on « neutral” backgrounds helps to have clean, sharpened uninterrupted images.


To carry out a session, I always start by identifying the available light: windows or sky lights can do the trick, even in winter.
For the photo shoot, I work manually and I adjust my settings according to the rendering on my screen, which is precise enough for the result I am looking for. For the white balance, I used the auto mode, which is quite reliable even when there is no change of lights.


I positioned a beautiful orange leather armchair next to the window to photograph Duchess. This cat is very docile and when you place it somewhere, it stays in it’s place and makes  a very nice model.
If your pet is very restless, you can sit with it for a few moments with a toy or food to show it that you are interesting. Cats also love to be stimulated and you can use a string or other object that makes noise. It’s up to you to see what your pet responds best to!
Once you’ve set up your cat with the right exposure and the speed that will allow you to freeze the movements, i.e. above 125th of a second, you can start to think about the framing that will enhance the animal: by being at its level and making sure that nothing is in the way of its gaze. Don’t hesitate to remove the plush in the foreground, to straighten the picture in the background or even to shift if the background doesn’t suit you! As soon as you have your light and frame, you can start taking pictures.


It is quite possible to make a series of several original and coherent photos without moving. In the following series, it is impossible for me to say which photo I prefer, for the simple reason that they are all different. On the other hand, they allow you to tell a little story and make an interesting layout. If you ever make album books or frame your photos in triptych frames, this is the kind of series that works.
You probably can’t see it in the pictures but I had to stimulate Duchess to get her excited and look towards the window.


The light will enhance your pet’s eyes. And I know from experience that animal eyes can be very expressive. Look at the most beautiful pictures of pets: they are always highlighted.
The eyes are the place where I get into the habit of focusing. The other option is to focus on the nose, but in this case, you risk having the rest of the body out of focus.


Whether you zoom in with the lens or by getting closer, it can give very interesting results without having to change places! While Duchess was comfortably seated on a nice chair with a neutral background that highlighted her, I started by shooting in a wide shot. I found that vertical framing lent itself well to this composition. However, by getting a little closer and framing horizontally, I made a photo that expresses something radically different without touching anything. I could have even come closer and made a tight portrait of my cat but I preferred to make a slightly plunging view to highlight the geometric patterns of the chair.



Do not hesitate to consider that you are making a report to answer an order, to create a book album or to illustrate your blog. Photography also means showing “the context”, that is to say all the elements that will give character to your subject or tell a story. A cat can be photographed in so many stitches and details: a claw planted in a cushion, the little pink tongue licking a paste, an eye, the tail sticking out of the frame … In the case of my session, I found that the chair used was pretty and would give an indication. So I focused on it by voluntarily blurring the cat. Photographing beautiful materials gives air and punctuates the reportage, this is done a lot in wedding photography.


The two following images, which are very similar, tell two different stories: The first one rather evokes the cozy comfort of the animal while it is raining outside. The second one emphasizes the hunter’s instinct as a hunter on the lookout. But other stories could have been told: an animal sleeping with a bowl of kibble next to it could evoke all the laziness of your animal, whereas with a shredded newspaper scattered around the house, one could emphasise its personality.
There are two possibilities: either you’re a ” reporter” and you patiently watch and hope that something interesting happens or you’re a “director” and you create scenarios. These two ways of making photos are not incompatible, I would even say that they feed into each other and that staging allows you to highlight facets of real life.


Again, there is nothing definitive, especially with digital, and you can very well include photos with their masters. Since I’ve been doing this job, I’ve systematically offered my clients a portrait with their animal. Most people don’t like to pose but I’m pretty sure that many are very happy to have been able to make a portrait with their animal. So don’t hesitate to take the shots you love with your pet because if the photo has a good quality, it is to immortalise the memories.