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)
It is fair to assume that while most of us know that our world, our living spaces, and even our bodies are covered with microscopic organisms, we do like to not be reminded of it. Photography student Marcus DeSieno’s recent photoseries begs to differ, offering a beautiful yet disturbingly close look at our microscopic natural surroundings. Parasites is an ongoing project “investigating a history of scientific exploration through images of parasitic animals.” Taken with a Scanning Electron Microscope and then exposed onto dry plate gelatin ferrotype plates, a process which combines classical and cutting-edge photographic techniques. The final images are archival pigment prints from the scanned ferrotype plates and printed larger for these abject animals to confront the viewer at a one-on-one scale.
“Photography and science have had an intrinsic relationship since its’ invention in 1839. It did not take William Henry Fox Talbot long until he was using his calotype process to capture what was under the lens of his microscope. The indexical nature of photography has pushed the reaches of science ever forward into the 21st century. These technologies allow us to peer in to the unexamined corners of the natural world reminding us that the universe around us is much greater than ourselves. In this realm of scientific curiosity, photography has a intriguing relationship with the invisible, allowing us to see the world that we cannot. Parasites explores these themes of science and wonder and, at the same time, confronts a personal fear of these parasitic organisms that attach themselves to humans. Embedded in the work is an engaging dialog with photographic history, its\’ shifting modes of representation, and its’ material possibilities. Parasites investigates the role of shifting photographic technologies in contemporary culture and their abilities to capture a mysterious and unseen world.”
Tragedy can yield new ways of working and thinking, especially in the case of artist Jess Landau. After a lifelong friend committed suicide in 2013, she was struck trying to come to terms with the loss, and it lead her to explore new ways to cope with the event. What resulted was a stunning series that conveys the fragility of life itself as expressed through nude figures on eggshells.
Before she landed on eggshells, Landau decided that the traditional materials of wood, papers, etc., just weren’t cutting it. She wanted something more delicate. The decision to use the shells coincided with her learning to use liquid emulsion, a chemical that makes paper light-sensitive and allows images to be projected onto it in a darkroom. “Liquid emulsion will only adhere to surfaces that have a tooth — shiny and smooth surfaces like glass and certain plastics don’t work unless you sand-blast them,” the artist explained to Huffington Post. “Eggshells have an appropriate texture for the emulsion to cling to.”
First, Landau photographed the models with a 35mm Minolta camera and then developed the images by hand in a wet lab using traditional darkroom methods and a few modifications. Because of the eggshells’ curved shape, Landau applied several layers of evenly-distributed emulsion to to them. The exposure would vary depending on the shape of the shell, making the process for each slightly unique.
The effort that went into the production of this series had therapeutic results in addition to its beautiful aesthetic qualities. “Life is fragile and temporary, and it should be cradled in the palms of our hands — which is the process that I engaged with as I delicately created each of these works manually, with my hands.” The nude bodies represent vulnerability of its subjects, and printed on a delicate surface demonstrates the fleeting nature of life itself. (Via Huffington Post)
There’s always something more to be said in a failed romantic relationship. No matter who was right or wrong, time allows for reflection by both parties. But, more often than not, we don’t get the chance to say our peace. Photographer Jennifer McClure offers an intimate look at these types of situations in her series, You Who Never Arrived. She explores her past relationships by putting herself in front of the camera and reimagines the situations of former loves. McClure re-stages the events in hotels, using friends and acquaintances to play the part of beaus.
This series is no doubt an intimate one, as we see the photographer’s vulnerability on display. Her perception of the past was changed in this exercise, and she explains to Feature Shoot:
I thought I was going to find out what was wrong with all of the men I dated. I had assumed that I was ready for a grown-up relationship and that I simply wasn’t choosing well. After hearing what all of the stand-ins had to say about my actions and my behavior, I saw that I always ran away when things started to get serious. I was afraid to let anyone get too close, and I much preferred fantasy over reality. I always shot before the men arrived (when I was still right) and after they left (when I was so very wrong). The most devastating photos to me are the ones I shot the mornings after.
Since everything was shot in a hotel room, the sets were always a surprise, forcing the photographer to improvise in things like lighting and decor. Combined with the improv’d dialogue, these images feel like film stills. (Via Feature Shoot)
Believe it or not, these images by Todd Baxter are not paintings. They are photos, crafted with a painterly touch that clearly demonstrates the photographer’s influence of other fine art media such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. Baxter loads his compositions with exquisite details, and we see hand-made badges, fur scarves, and even exposed entrails that make up his series Owl Scouts. The surreal coloring and controlled lighting makes it easy to forget that what we’re looking at is a well-considered photograph.
Narrative images tell the story of young scouts that trek through the wilderness and encounter a series of adventures. Some are neat, like when they find an owl that’s been burrowed underground. Other times are more gruesome and include a near-drowning and cut, bloody hand.
The formal considerations of the photographs and their subject matter can’t help but make someone think of Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. Baxter’s work is more surreal and dark, however, where the woods is a character in the tale of these young scouts. (Via Optically Addicted)
In photographer Filippo Romano’s fascinating series titled Nomadic Sellers, he documents the roaming salespeople of Africa. The images are mostly focused in eastern Nairobi and specifically in the slum of Mathare, which has a population of 600,000 people within 3 square miles. Each portrait features the peddler and their wares against the washed-out backdrop of the city streets.
We see the men with shoes and bras tied around their necks and arms full of music and wooden utensils. Their earnings are meager, and the goods they sell make a tenth of what pesticide peddlers yield. Those salespeople have most lucrative product and stand to make between 1,000 to 2,000 shellini (10 to 20 euros) in profit.
Romano notes that selling on the streets and going door-to-door is one of the most common trades in the African world. A seller who travels with goods on their back has most likely created their job through the necessity to fend for themselves. They are entrepreneurs.
Nomadic Sellers points to the infectious nature of global consumerism, and how even the far parts of the world want to own a pair of Nikes. At its very core, the series is an intriguing look at the innate human desire to own stuff, no matter how necessary or frivolous it may seem. (Via Feature Shoot)
When you see a photograph of a monument, often it’s just of the sculpture itself and not within the context of the larger landscape. It gives the appearance that these colossal constructions live within their own world. Photographer Fabrice Fouillet shatters this illusion in his series titled Colosses, in which he zooms out and provides us with what’s surrounding these massive creations. Many times, they make the monument appear less special and more ordinary.
Fouilllet explains his thinking behind the photographs:
The series “Colosses” is a study of the landscape embracing those monumental commemorative statues. Although hugeness is appealing, exhilarating or even fascinating, I was first intrigued by the human need to build gigantic declarations. Then I asked myself how such works could be connected to their surroundings. How can they fit in the landscape, despite their excessive dimensions and their fundamental symbolic and traditional functions?
That is why I chose to photograph the statute from a standpoint outside their formal surroundings (touristic or religious) and to favor a more detached view, watching them from the sidelines. This detachment enabled me to offer a wider view of the landscape and to place the monuments in a more contemporary dimension.
The statues that are surrounded by nature fit more comfortably in their environment. It feels less chaotic and a more peaceful place, in line with the intention of many religious practices. But, even when they are among shopping centers, you can’t ignore the stunning presence that these monuments have. (Via Flavorwire)
One of the advantages to the window seat of an airplane is the view below. Flying 35,000 feet above the sky, you see a miniaturized landscape that’s a combination of mixtures of shapes and textures. It’s devoid of the finer details and has the appearance of an abstract painting. Photographer William Rugen captures these type of fractured scenes in his series of images titled Here > There. The monochromatic photographs show roads, fields, and cities in an up-close way that they don’t immediately appear as what they actually are.
We’ve recently seen the dystopian, dizzying effect that aerial photographs have on highways. Rugen’s photographs are disorienting at times, but there is a semblance of structure in the haphazard-looking scenes. Lines of the road fracture and corral the different (yet similar) shapes of the ground and break them up like a cubist painting. They reveal a patchwork of stories, development, and planning, which is inevitably the same wherever you travel, no matter what the physical differences might be.