Harry Whittier Frees - 1879-1953

The VV cannot deny the obsession on social media for posting pictures of kittens and puppies, and often 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, even for 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 of the animal photographers. Some said his models had been gassed, the corpses then dressed and posed as desired - although Whittier Frees himself had claimed to work only 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 pets to pose but the least likely to take on 'human parts'. Dogs were often, but not always, amenable to the  process - with their attention 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.

Whittier Frees was said to find this choice of career very stressful. Eventually, he only worked in his studio for three months of the year. The rest of the time was 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.