Do you ever wish you could see the world from the eyes of your chihuahua, or your kitty, or your mini-pig? You could try crawling around on all fours to get a sense of these animals’ perspectives–or, you could equip your pet with a PetCam, as photographer and animal lover Chris Keeney advises in his new book, PetCam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends, out from Princeton Architectural Press.
A PetCam is a small, lightweight digital camera that you attach to your animal’s collar or to a harness. The device can be programmed to shoot photos at specific time intervals (one second, two, three, etc.). Once you press the start button on the camera and your pet begins to roam, the device records images at the set interval and saves them to an internal memory card. The camera stops snapping once the memory card is full.
The technology allows pets the artistic expression that their lack of opposable thumbs has thus far prevented: images of the snouts and tails of dogs sniffed along a daily walk; the kitchen from feline ascents to the top of the refrigerator; the protruding tongue of a fellow cow.
The devices are new, but the impulse to turn pets into photographers goes back nearly as far as photography itself, as Keeney points out in the book’s introduction. In 1908, in an effort to create aerial photographs from a bird’s perspective, the German photographer and inventor Julius Gustav Neubronner patented a small camera that could be attached to passenger pigeons. He’d show off his pigeon artistes at international exhibitions, and would develop their photographs on the spot, selling the resulting prints to visitors as souvenir postcards.
The vast majority of PetCam images come out predictably blurry from all the frenzied panting, digging, and scratching these furry photographers do. But if your pet turns out to have a good eye, maybe it deserves its own Instagram account.
PetCam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends is available from Princeton Architectural press for $12.