LOLcats, for the uninitiated, is an internet meme of funny cat images accompanied by a funny caption. LOLcat is a combination of two words — LOL, which means “laugh” and a cat. While the term is believed to have originated in 2006, the concept of lolcats was born much earlier. These photographs were taken by American photographer Harry Witter Fries (1879–1953), who dressed his cats, as well as the pets of his friends and neighbors, and photographed them in human situations, often accompanied by captions.
Fries used specially designed kits made by his parents to keep the animals in position, patiently waiting for the shot. According to Mr. Fries, “These extraordinary photographs of real animals were only possible thanks to the patient, unfailing kindness on the part of the photographer in each case.”
“Speed is important in creating these images, but it’s often impossible to be fast enough. Young animals cannot hold the same posture for too long, like human babies, and the situation is difficult when they are asked to be patient in situations that are not natural for them,” said the photographer.
Fries’ career as an animal photographer began at a birthday party in 1906 when a paper hat fell off the dinner table and landed on the head of a house cat. Harry took a picture and a career was launched. As time went on, his photographs and scripts became more elaborate. His animal photographs have appeared on postcards, calendars, books, promotional material, and articles for Woman’s World and Child Life magazines. In addition, he wrote stories to accompany his images for books and magazines.
Read on to see how schoolchildren dress up animals in a bizarre competition in New Zealand.