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Harry Whittier Frees

Harry Whittier Frees, (1879-1953). Pioneered these whimsical images of kittens, puppies and other animals designing sets and having his mother create costumes. In the preface to Animal Land on the Air, Harry Whittier Frees describes working with his subjects. “Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable ot 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 are, moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer.”

The March 1, 1937, edition of Life magazine reatured an article on Mr. Frees titled, “Speaking of Pictures…These are Harry Frees’s Lifework”. The article explains that Frees’s career as a photographer of dressed animals began at a birthday party in 1906, when a paper party hat was passed around the dinner table and landed on the pet cat’s head. Harry took a picture and a career was begun! He took others and sold them to a postcard printer, who clamored for more.

He commited suicide and died broke. Additional information available at: