German photographer Ralph Hargarten recently came up with a project called A Dog’s life. In it, Hargarten is able to capture some very subtle nuances in the dog’s facial expressions. He remarkably is able to depict these canines in such a way that they evoke human expressions quite uncannily.
Most of the dogs in fact look incredibly somber, possessing a rather formal demeanor normally associated with stuffy, uptight individuals. The Hamburg, Germany-based Hargarten shot these portraits set against a simple black background, and then allowed each of the dog’s personality’s to shine through.
Take special notice of the pug. The dog sports an incredible likeness to the famous expression of Sir Winston Churchill in the portrait famously taken by Yousuf Karsh. The Prime Minister glowered at the camera over a denied cigar, and the pug looks just as annoyed. Hargarten explains his reasons for doing A Dog’s life.
“Greta, Fay, Jannis, Clinton and so on,” he says, rattling off dog names borrowed from humans. “Most dogs have human names, so why not shooting them like humans. In my pictures I tried to catch different expressions as I would do with people as well. These are the results.”
Perhaps one of the earliest series to feature anthropomorphized dogs is the famous oil painting series, Dogs Playing Poker by C. M. Coolidge, commissioned by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars in 1903. That series obviously spawned an endless number of similar dog depictions, such as Hargrarten’s A Dog’s life as well as this quirky series by Pablo Axpe or this one about a fashionable Shiba Inu dog.
Hargarten is a veteran in the advertising industry, having shot projects that spanned the globe for over 16 years. His work ranges from Portraits to Lifestyle, Landscape, and Aerials, and obviously, dogs.
“Over the years I have worked for clients all over the world. I have shot in the photographic capitals of New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and Milan and also on location in Germany, USA, Australia, China, Brasil, England, France, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Bali and last, but not least, in the country my heart belongs to, South Africa. Wherever I visit – even on vacation – my camera is my constant companion.”
Go on over and browse his website here and view his amazing body of work, including A Dog’s life.