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How photographer William Wegman makes his dogs look human

By Hannah Yi

William Wegman has been filming and photographing his dogs since the 1970s. He has captured thousands of portraits that range from the whimsical to the melancholy, working with a succession of 10 Weimaraners over the years.

Sometimes his sleek, noble-looking grey dogs wear outfits from yard sales and secondhand stores. Sometimes they’re decked out in fancy designer outfits from Saks Fifth Avenue. They’re seen perched on Eames chairs, riding bikes, or leaping into the air. At times, they appear to have human arms or legs.

Even without elaborate sets and props, Wegman always manages to make his dogs look, well, human.

“I like the collision, the overlapping of human and animal,” Wegman told Quartz. “I think the dogs like that I’m doing the human thing, and they’re doing their thing. I think that makes it work really well. I don’t try to be them, and they don’t try to be me. We’re borrowing each other for a while.”

Wegman says it was by chance that he turned the lens on his first dog, Man Ray, when they were at the studio one day.

“He was a very young dog, only six weeks old, and he kept getting into things as I was setting up,” said Wegman. “Then I turned the camera on, and it was transfixing. He looked spooky. Not particularly cute, but something riveting about him.”

Over the years, Wegman’s iconic images have earned the dogs celebrity status. They have appeared on The Late Show with David LettermanSesame Street, and Saturday Night Live. [videos]

Today, the 73-year-old photographer continues to work closely with his two Weimaraners, Topper and Flo, who he said will likely be his last dogs.

Watch our video to see how Wegman makes his dogs look so human.