Back in the day, when cat’s still knew how to spell, American photographer Harry Whittier Frees (1879–1953) dressed them up in silly costumes and made them pose as humans. Similar to the Brighton cats, the result was a vintage version of the LOLCat phenomenon. His mother assisted him in designing and sewing special outfits for the cats to hold them in position while he would patiently wait for the shot he had in mind.
These unusual photographs of real animals were made possible only by patient, unfailing kindness on the part of the photographer at all times.
Speed is essential in securing these pictures, but very often it is impossible to be quick enough. Young animals cannot hold a pose any better than human babies, and the situation is complicated when they are called on to be precocious in situations naturally foreign to them.
Frees’s career as a photographer of cats and other animals in fancy dress began in 1906, when a party hat was passed around the table accidentally landed on a cat’s head. He took a photo and a career was born. He sold some of his early shots to a postcard printer, who turned out to be keen on more. With time and practice, his sets became more elaborate and most often included various props. His photos were continued to be featured on postcards and also appeared in calendars, books, advertisments, and magazines.
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