As you might imagine, I am one of those people who takes crazy amounts of pictures of our dogs and our cat. Now that so many cell phones have decent cameras, it’s easy to capture those precious moments.
What got me thinking about this was an article I read in Catster. The writer volunteers as a photographer at her local animal shelter. In the article, she chronicles her change of mind – at first she preferred photographing dogs but eventually came to enjoy cat photography more. With dogs, she liked the camaraderie and thought her photos were better with natural lighting and nice outdoor backgrounds. When she ventured into the cat room to take pictures, there was too much commotion. She couldn’t get a cat to sit still long enough to snap a good shot. And, when she got lucky and captured one of the elusive creatures on camera, the backgrounds were cluttered with litter boxes, cages, supplies, and maybe a few bags of CANIDAE Life Stages cat food, all lit by severe fluorescent lighting.
Then one day the shelter manager hung up a donated blanket and two heat lamps in an effort to spiff up the cat photos. The photographer mentally rolled her eyes, thinking there was no way a cat would sit in front of that thing long enough to have her picture taken. She was wrong. In fact, she now believes that cats intuitively know what she is trying to do and pose for the camera.
This revelation made her change her stance on the topic. The cats posed so well that she could photograph twice the number of cats in half the time she usually spent on the dogs. With dogs, she spent time following them around the exercise runs or waiting for them to get still enough to be photographed; they were more interested in sniffing the grass for the latest bit of news than being caught on camera. So her final answer was that cats are easier to photograph than dogs.
For kicks, I decided to pose the question to some friends. The answers were divided. Diane at CANIDAE says that dogs are much easier to photograph than cats. “Cats have a habit of turning their heads at the last minute – totally frustrates me to no end.”
Dana, a local friend who takes pictures for the Charleston SPCA, believes that dogs are easier because you can grab their attention more easily. She loves photographing cats too but says it’s harder to “stage” or anticipate a moment with most cats.
I have another friend named Jenne who takes photos for an animal shelter. She also believes that dogs are easier. “After having to photograph hundreds of cats at the shelter, dogs are easier, hands down. Treat in hand, ‘here doggy,’ perfectly still – snap snap. Cats, you gotta chase them around and even then it takes forever to get one useable shot.”
Crystal said “I'd have to say cats. Dogs want to walk up to you for attention, and some won't sit still for the camera. A picture of a big black nose isn't something you'd want to put in a frame. Cats are more laid back about it. They just sit there and stare with an expression that says you're a silly human.”
Most people can make a good argument for both sides. Tamara calls it a tie: “Cats may move around more, but I've never met one afraid of the camera , like some dogs. On the flip side, some cats will let you follow them around like the paparazzi they deem you to be, while some dogs love the attention and will pose like good models.”
A childhood friend and photographer named Blake also says it’s a tie: “EXCEPT that cats don't necessarily want to play with you like dogs do, like when I crouch down on the ground to get a different perspective and the dog subject thinks that means he's supposed to come to me and play. I love taking pictures of both, though!”
As you can see, there’s no easy answer. What about you? Which side of the coin do you fall on?
Dog photo by Jelene Morris
Cat photos by Langley Cornwell
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell