Monday, 30 December 2013


Harry Whittier Frees - 1879-1953

The VV does not find it attractive but she cannot deny the obsession that our culture seems to have with the posting of pictures of kittens and puppies on many forms of social media, and often when clothed in human garb.  

Back when the art of photography was still in its relative infancy there was also a large demand for images of cute animals - on postcards, books, and calendars, and even advertising campaigns where the actors were shown to be involved in essentially human acts.

The American Harry Whittier Frees was one of the more successful photographers who worked with such young animals. It is said that the creatures had been gassed and afterwards dressed and posed as desired - although Whittier Frees always maintained to have worked with living animals. You may come to your own conclusion on that!

Over the years of perfecting his art Whittier Frees was known to say that rabbits were the easiest creatures to pose but the least likely to take on 'human parts'. Dogs were often, but not always, ameniable - their attention best being kept by sound. Piglets were the most difficult. But kittens, which could be kept focussed by visible means of interest, were also the most adaptable and attractive to his audience.

He was said to have found his career very stressful and eventually  worked in the studio for only three months of the year, the rest of the time being taken up with constructing new props and stage settings - many examples of which are shown in the photographs below...

For more on the man and his life's work see this link from Life Magazine in March 1937.


  1. I love them!

    But do you think all these puppies and other animals replaced babies and children in cute photos? Perhaps parents wouldn't allow their babies to be set up in photographic sets or perhaps animals were more easily coached.