Modern Day Photographs in Artistic Styles

There are many cultures around the world that accept domestic animals as non-human members of the family group. These connections often grow strong even when the pet is a bird, gerbil, etc. Dogs and cats, however seem to form a deeper connection with their human family members and often are treated anthropomorphically.

Artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge touched upon this relationship when he painted dogs in parlor scenes and other human situations. These originated as an advertising tool before they were soon elevated to an art their own.

Today I believe we have a modern-day practitioner of this fine art with a bit of a twist. Tracy Willis is an exquisitely talented photographer. It is easy, when looking at these works, to be captivated without realizing the painstaking effort it takes to create them. Accept my word for it because I have tried (to some degree).

Let’s look at one image that reminded me of Coolidge’s work:

Dogs Playing Poker by Tracy Willis ala Coolidge

“Dogs Playing Poker by Tracy Willis reminiscent of Cassius Marcellus Coolidge”

Look at the attention to detail! The dogs aren’t just sitting there like dogs, they are like people. The one on the right is wearing a sport cap, the pooch in the middle has a tie while the leftmost pup appears to have britches. Did you notice the painting on the wall? A lady dog! This is very clever indeed.

Praying Bedtime Bunny with Teddy Bear
“Praying Bedtime Bunny with Teddy Bear by Tracy Willis”

This is an “Ahhh moment” picture of a bunny praying. It is emotional fantasy at its best. What bunny wouldn’t also want to have a Teddy Bear? Using books as the platform for reaching the bed is just the right touch!

Bedtime Hamster with Book and Cookie

“Bedtime Hamster with Book and Cookie by Tracy Willis”

This (above) is an adorable picture. Once again, the seemingly small details add so much. The cookie and crumbs close the circle of composition by leading the eye back toward the middle of the photograph. When looking at these works of art, we are drawn to examine all items including the upside down cup/table and thus the cookie easily draws the eye back to the middle.

There is more here than meets the eye. This is an excerpted photograph of a live hamster; not a drawing. All of the animals in these pictures were part of a photograph and not artistically recreated. Thus the hamster was composited into the picture,i.e. the hamster was isolated from a photograph and inserted into another picture with the other elements already there or also composited.

Can we imagine what is involved? If you have ever tried to isolate and remove an element from a picture, even with today’s advanced software, you will understand that it is far from easy; especially to achieve such clean edges and superb blending.

It is one thing to think of the idea for such a picture which is clever and creative in and of itself. Then the creator needs to decide which elements to include. What will make this a great picture rather than just a good one? Lastly, but not least, is the execution, ergo artistry. Tracy Willis has done all of the above and done it with flare!

Dogs in a Vespa on a First Date

“Dogs in a Vespa on a First Date by Tracy Willis”

In the picture above, the motion of the Vespa is totally believable because of the positioning of the dog’s ears, their posture and the blending of the roadway and grassy areas to give the appearance of motion.

I need to point out that Tracy is not best known for this type of work and when you visit her website and check out her About Page you will realize that she has garnered many awards and is noted for her newborn photography. As you have witnessed here, however, she is far from one dimensional.

Let’s just take a quick look at two other pieces of her work that I found both beautiful and representative of her craftsmanship.

This photograph of a boy and girl reading a book could have been from the Renaissance era. It is done in the style of a chiaroscuro painting with the strong contrast of light and dark and with the light coming predominantly from one direction.

Boy and Girl Reading done in a Renaissance Style
“Boy and Girl Reading done in a Renaissance Style by Tracy Willis”

And this picture…just look at those eyes! They eyes are the doorway to the soul. If you were the parent of this boy wouldn’t you just love to have this picture?

Soulful Boy with Toy Trunk
“Soulful Boy with Toy Trunk by Tracy Willis”

You can see more of Tracy’s Animal Antics pictures by checking out that gallery after clicking the link, but while you are at it, look at the other galleries as well. You won’t be disappointed!

We don’t want to spoil the illusion here, but this is art we are speaking of and on her blog, Tracy Willis provides some clues about how she creates these masterpieces of composite photographic artistry.

‘First Date’ a look behind the scenes at how I create my art


‘Bedtime Story’ a look behind the scenes of my latest hamster picture

PS – If, by any chance, you are a struggling photographer or a photographer ‘wannabe,’ read Tracy’s inspirational article: Don’t ever give up…..


Full Disclosure:

I first heard about Tracy Willis via this article – I Make Photos of Dogs Being Humans

The titles under the pictures are mine and not that of Tracy Willis. (I use them as tags so photographs can be easily found on the Internet.)

NOTE – All photographs are used with permission of photographer Tracy Willis. They are Copyrighted with All Rights Reserved.

Special Thanks to Tracy for allowing me to share her work and enjoy her creativity! originally published this post

See previous posts about talented and extraordinary photographers HERE

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