A San Francisco photographer is taking the pop provocateur Lady Gaga's dramatic fashion statements to new heights of absurdity with the Doggie Gaga Project, in which he photographs dogs dressed in outlandish Gaga-inspired outfits.
Picture a pit bull wearing a disco-ball mask and strapless dress, a Boston terrier sporting a lacy red gown and a hat as tall as he is, and another pit bull wearing an outfit made entirely of Kermit the Frog dolls.
Like Lady Gaga herself, the Doggie Gaga Project blurs the lines between madness, creative genius and hilarity.
Jesse Freidin, who makes his living as a dog photographer, stumbled into this sideline through his interest in classic Polaroid film. When the company decided to revive its instant camera business last year and named Lady Gaga as "creative director," Mr. Freidin joked on Twitter about combining all his passions - dogs, Polaroids and Gaga. Then the joke turned serious.
With help from The Impossible Project, a group based in the Netherlands dedicated to producing film for instant Polaroid cameras, the Doggie Gaga project was born.
It takes a special sort of dog - a very, very patient sort of dog - to be Gaga material. The five pets featured in the project include Mr. Freidin's Boston terrier, Pancake, and friends' dogs that he knew would enjoy, or at least tolerate, being dressed up and photographed.
The outfits are made with help from artist friends and cheap supplies from a craft store.
"We chose the outfits we wanted to do and tailored them to the dogs we thought would do best with them," Mr. Freidin explained. For example, Pancake's tall, red hat expresses the big personality inside the little dog, while Gunther the pit bull was able to get in touch with his inner diva by sporting Gaga's disco-ball getup.
"All the dogs had fun," Mr. Freidin said. "And we gave them tons of treats."
Mr. Freidin hoped that the project might bring some attention to what he believes are the underappreciated wonders of Polaroid film. The reaction was much larger. The Doggie Gaga project has been featured on Perez Hilton.com, Live! With Regis and Kelly, MTV and MuchMusic. Apparently, dogs dressed up as pop stars is an idea that strikes a chord with a lot of people.
Due to popular demand, Mr. Freidin has shot round 2 of the Doggie Gaga project, and is working on a book. The fruits of his labours, as well as any Doggie Gaga updates, can be found on his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Doggie-Gaga-Project/365443474450.
Photographing dogs isn't much different than taking pictures of people, says Mr. Freidin, who has been working with pooches full-time for about five years. In both cases, he wants to capture an emotional truth about the subject's personality - although with dogs, the process might involve romping on the floor.
"With dogs, I want to know who they are. I want to roll around on the ground with them and become part of their world," Mr. Freidin explained. "I always say to people, the best images are the ones that you really get when you're not thinking too hard about it, just letting the energy guide your images."
And if the energy you want to capture is Canine Lady Gaga? Well then, just dance.
Rebecca Dube has a soft spot for the Kermit outfit. Read her blog at http://paws.ly.