Ever wonder how to get those adorable pictures of dogs that seem to be licking the camera? It’s actually pretty simple, especially if you have a dog that loves food and with a little practice, you can get some really cute pictures.

Recently I experimented with the Rockin’ Dawgs crew on these photos. What works, what doesn’t, so you can try it at home.

First, there are a few things you will need:

  1. A piece of pliexiglass or acrylic (you can find these at your local home improvement store)
  2. Something to smear on the plexiglass to attract your dog to lick (I used coconut oil during this shoot, a favorite of my crew, but you can use peanut butter, squeeze cheese, or basically anything smearable)
  3. A decent lens where you can be pretty close to the dogs. It doesn’t have to be a macro.
  4. Good lighting. I used a Speedlite on my camera for this as well as one continous lighting softbox. The flash can be important to reduce motion blur since you will be acting quick to get the shots and your subject will be moving also.

Now for the how:

  1. Many people will actually hold the piece of plexiglass in one hand and shoot with the camera in the other. I opted to prop my plexiglass up and clip it to the sides of two light stands because I knew I would have too many butter fingers trying to hold everything.
  2. Take a very small dollop of whatever you are smearing, pea-sized or smaller, and place it directly in the middle of the plexiglass. I used a little brush to apply it, but your finger works just fine too. Make sure you have your camera settings up and ready to go before applying the goods! Once its applied I’m sure the lick fest will be on!
  3. Be careful to only touch the plexiglass on the sides. Extra fingerprints near where your dog is licking will make for extra editing work for you in post processing.
  4. Focus on the dog’s tongue. Usually, you want your focus to be on the eyes, but I found the better shots came out when your focus is on the tongue for this type of shot.

Camera Settings:

If you are using a flash and doing this indoors, keep your ISO low. I typically keep mine at 100-200. You will want your aperture to be narrow to keep more of the dog’s head in focus. For speed you might want it set a little higher 1/250 sec is usually about where I start and then adjust as needed.

All-in-all I think our first session was a success. A few things I would change for next time… I would use a higher aperture. These were taken at F8, but I think I would prefer a little more crispness around the dogs so I might do F12 to F16. Also, I used my handy go-to 24-105mm lens that was already on my camera, but since you do have to get pretty close to your subject, I might go for my 18-55mm next time. I think my wide angle or fisheye lens might be amusing for these type of photos too, so we might have to experiment with this at a later date.

And one more important thing. You will want to be somewhat comfortable using Lightroom and Photoshop for editing. There will inevitably be some smears and smudges around the plexiglass that you will want to eliminate during post so it doesn’t blur obscure the focus of your dog.

So if you get stuck inside on a rainy day and want to experiment like I did, I hope this helps your creative journey a little bit. Be sure to share your pictures with me if you take some! I’d love to see all those happy tongues!!

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