This Lick’s for You

'09 Doglick-18

One of the fun things about rolling around in the yard with a clients dog, is that you get to freeze moments in time that you wouldn’t normally notice. I think we’ve all seen cats and dogs do cute things, but there’s something heartwarming about seeing the full expression on a pet’s face when it’s frozen in mid action. Here the dog licking its nose took only a few seconds at most, but seeing it in live action you don’t notice the intense look in her eyes as she’s momentarily licking hew nose or the subtle texture of her fur. All put together in the portrait, the expression, lighting, action, and texture creates a portrait that goes deeper. Of course, if it’s your dog in the portrait, then ever detail counts even more and becomes more meaningful.

To capture this portrait, I simple had the owner let the dog loose in the backyard to be herself. I got down on my belly and rolled around with her trying to keep up. I normally like to compose my shots carefully through the viewfinder, but in this case I had to trust that my settings were correct and click away. In most cases the best shots were taken when she slowed down long enough for me to look through the camera( like this one), but many of the other shots from this series were mid action guesses. Thankfully I could crop them afterwards to narrow the viewers focus. To add to the difficulty tho, I had a Canon speedlight 580exII tethered to the hot-shoe of my camera as I shot. One hand held the camera and clicked the shutter while the other hand pointed the flash. If I had been chewing gum at the same time, I’m sure my brain would have overloaded. I’m working on growing a third arm to help carry some of my equipment, otherwise I’ll have to start using my teeth.

In all seriousness tho, it has taken me a long time to get to a point where I feel comfortable trying to roll around in the grass with a dog while taking portraits. I have to know my camera pretty well, know how the camera might capture a shot without seeing it through the lens sometimes, and lastly I have to put myself out there sometimes and take a chance. My confidence has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two years because I’m building up experience under my belt. I’ve also learned to deal with failure better. “Stuff happens”, and you move on.


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