Several months ago I had the opportunity to photograph Ms. Lacey, a sweet dog with lots of energy. The shoot was for an article about homemade dog treats for the magazine Rocket City Pets. So my plan was to create mini scenes, dress my friends dogs in costumes, place the treats on the plate in front of the dog and effortlessly get amazing photographs. Sometimes I can be really naive.The idea for the shoot was a good one. I wanted to create a birthday scene, with the pup cakes front and center, candles lit, and Lacey dressed in her birthday finest complete with a tiara and tutu. I bought a tiara and custom fit it with elastic to stay on Lacey’s head. I converted a tutu with a tie on the front so it would be easier to fit onto a dog. I even got tissue paper balls to create a nice birthday feel. But alas, “the best-laid plans of mice and men, often goes awry” to paraphrase Robert Burns. This quote is nearly always true when it comes to photographing children or animals… and sometimes awkward adults. Lacey was surprisingly blasé about wearing the tutu, but the tiara was really asking a lot. Every time we would get the tiara on her she would shake it off and then we would put it on her again and she would shake it off. We played this game for quite a while until Lacey gave up and let the tiara stay, but she wasn’t happy about it. She turned her back to the camera, laid on the ground and sulked. Her owner and I thought she might cheer up with a pupcake, and she did, immensely. The problem was she LOVED them and every time her owner (human mother) would place one on the plate she would gobble it up before I could snap the shutter. I got shot after shot of a blurry Lacey licking her lips after inhaling the treat. There was also an alarming moment when we thought she had eaten the candle, which I at least had the foresight to not light. I began to worry she would get sick after eating so many treats, and yet I didn’t have a usable image. At this point I opted to photograph Lacey in front of an empty plate and Photoshop the cake into the image later.Here is the before and after shots. I don’t usually do this much post-production work, but this just goes to show you even dogs get unrealistic makeovers for their cover shoots.
Below is the recipe to make your own peanut butter banana pupcakes. I can’t speak for all dogs, but Lacey is a HUGE fan.
Also I wanted to give a shout out to Lacey’s adoption agency Two by Two Rescue in Helena, Alabama. I don’t currently own a dog, but I am a big advocate for adopting rescue and shelter dogs. If you get one half as sweet as Lacey you have hit the jackpot.
Peanut Butter Banana Pupcakes
1 cup peanut butter, divided
1 ¾ cups brown rice flour (for gluten-free) or whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
½ cup mashed ripe banana
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350◦F. Lightly grease 12 regular-sized muffin tins or 36 mini muffin tins.
2. Combine ½ cup peanut butter and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; stir 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins, filling cups almost full. Bake 18-20 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes; 12-15 minutes for minis. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with remaining ½ cup peanut butter.