Put the cat on a pillow.
Set up your camera and focus it on the pillow.
Put the cat back on the pillow.
Get a bowl of food and put it next to the pillow.
Put the cat back on the pillow.
Grab the food bowl and follow the cat. As you run, hold the bowl in the cat's face, tempting her to eat.
See if the neighbours will come over and pick up the sofa while you snap a picture of the cat underneath.
Cross the names of your neighbours off the list for your next party.
Put the cat back on the pillow.
Place a catnip-stuffed mouse in front of your cat and wait for your cat to go crazy.
Go back to the pet store and demand a refund.
Decide on a family portrait with the cat instead.
To stop the argument over which child gets to pose with the cat, agree to take pictures of each child holding the cat on his or her lap.
Tell each child that it doesn't matter who holds the cat first because you'll shuffle the pictures after they're developed and look at them in a different order than the order they were taken.
Get more cats, one for each child, and go back to step one.

-- by Jack Fleming

While the above is a humorous account of cat photography, taking a good picture of your cat is no laughing matter. If you want to create an image of your purrfect feline you can keep forever, you've got to do it right.

If your cat is black, you're going to have many problems from the get-go. Be careful with your background: white will be too harsh and black will turn your cat into nothing more than a pair of glowing eyes. A neutral coloured background is best, and be careful with shadows or you'll end up with a giant cat head when the shadow adds centimetres to the actual size. Always make sure the lighting is good.

Try to capture the cat's personality. Throw a toy, catch your sweetie doing something gorgeous, snap them on the sly so they won't run up to you and sniff the camera (which can be a good photo, but there are only so many pictures of cat noses you need). Take breaks, give the cat a treat and try to make sure you both have fun.

The usual photography hints apply: get the cat to take up at least half of the photo, use red-eye reduction if you can, keep the sun behind you or at the side. Experiment with motion and angles, and go through a hell of a lot of film just to catch that one perfect shot.

Then bore your friends with the results. They'll love that part of the process.

Info from "277 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know" by Cooper and Noble.

For some really good examples of cat photography, have a look at the work of the photographer Tony Mendoza. He published a book recently entitled Ernie: A Photographer's Memoir, which is still in print and available from the usual retail outlets. Unfortunately, his earlier book on the same subject seems to be out of print.

Though Ernie does not contain specific advice on how to photograph a cat (in this case Ernie, though I assume the procedure would generalize to other cats), Mendoza describes the overall process as follows:

I photographed him every day for two years and made around 10,000 negatives.
That process seems to work very well for many photographers. Garry Winogrand is perhaps the most well-known proponent of this technique.

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