In a world where many dogs, cats, and other pets have their own Instagram account, it’s hard to imagine a time when people didn’t take photos of their animals. Every day, pets flood social media feeds all over the planet – whether it is a “Doge” meme, or “Grumpy Cat” (pictured above) who has a following larger than most celebrities – it seems like everyone loves to look at pictures of animals. Even if your pet isn’t “Lil Bub” or “Toast” from “Toast Meets World” (pet celebrities from Instagram) you have probably shared at least one or two selfies of you and your beloved furbaby.
Well, it just so happens that we aren’t as special as we think – over a hundred years ago, people were already taking photographs of their pets. Yep, shortly after photographic technology emerged, people were already obsessing over capturing their special companions on film for all to see. They were quite creative with their photo shoots as well, which sometime walk the fine line of creepy and cute. Here are a few of my favorite vintage pet photo shoots:
- Dogs Smoking (1905) – Obviously nowadays we know that smoking is a horrible habit that can cause huge health concerns – but a hundred years ago it was the “cool” thing to do! Everyone was doing it, so of course pet owners wanted to pose their animals with their pipes and cigarettes!
I have to admit that I am quite baffled by the quality of these photos – how did the photographer get the dog to sit still long enough? At the time, the cameras available were only able to take long exposure photographs, meaning the pose had to be held for quite a while while the camera formed the picture. Not only did this person dress the dogs scarily human, but they somehow were able to get a non-blurry photo. Also, how did they get the pipes to stay in their mouths? We may never know…
2. Cats With Old Technology (1914) – These cats are embracing the innovative machinery of the time! They welcome the beginning of the 20th century with open arms and busy paws. Again, I am confused as to how the photographer was able to capture these pictures without blurriness. These days, it’s common to take a few photos at once and just choose the best one, thanks to digital photography. If that’s what this photographer did, he/she must have gone through a lot of film – which wasn’t cheap! They obviously loved their cats enough that they wanted to immortalize them in a strange narrative involving a cannon, early plane, and a water spigot.
3. Pets Enjoying Music (1926 – 1930s) – Who doesn’t love music? Well, in the early 20th century, music was one of the most accessible forms of entertainment. With the recent invention of the radio in the early 1900s, people finally had their first “escape” from their working lives that they could tap into from their home. Families everywhere were tuning in to hear music, radio shows, and news announcements. So, of course their pets were as well! Dang, this last dog is the coolest dog I have ever seen in my life. What do you think he’s playing? Some ragtime, or maybe a concerto, or some rhythm and blues? This is the precursor to all of those videos online you have seen of dogs and cats playing the piano, not to mention some dogs who actually sing along to music.
Maybe all of these pictures have inspired you to have your own vintage-themed photo shoot with your pet! If so, we would like to see the end result! Maybe steer away from the smoking-themed ones, though…