Before the insanely popular Lil Bub or the hilarious Doge memes of today was the photography of Harry Whittier Frees, a man who was capturing dogs and cats in odd-yet-amusing situations long before you and I were around. He fashioned a career from these adorable pictures and used them in postcards, calendars, and children’s books. The positive reception (and the fact that it made him wealthy) further proves that our obsession with cuteness is timeless. Some things really do remain the same.
These strange images show cats and dogs in dresses and bonnets, performing household chores like hanging clothes to dry or watering the plants. While it’s hard to deny the cute factor, you can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable by the unnatural positions these actors are posed in. It’s reminiscent to the work of Walter Potter, whom we recently shared here. Although there is a certain similarity to the stiff adorableness, you can feel better knowing that Frees’ animals stayed alive for their photo shoots.
Photographing these tiny creatures was no simple feat and Frees would only photograph three months out of the year. He writes about his experiences in his book Animal Land on the Air:
Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many ”human“ parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. An interesting fact is that a kitten’s attention is best held through the sense of sight, while that of a puppy is most influenced by sound, and equally readily distracted by it. The native reasoning powers of young animals moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer. (Via Co.Design)