Why we love cute pet photos

Featured on Episode 2

Capturing animals in photos hasn't always been about cute cats and goofy dogs.

When photography started back in the 1800s, photographers were focused on strong and fierce animals.  University of Toronto professor, Matthew Brower, who researched the long tradition of animal photography for his book, Developing Animals: Wildlife and Early American Photography, says it was more like sport hunting, capturing the image of a wild beast.

In 1872, the former governor of California, Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, hired Eadweard Muybridge for some photographic studies of his horse (Image: Wikipedia)

In 1872, the former governor of California, Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, hired Eadweard Muybridge for some photographic studies of his horse (Image: Wikipedia)

Our attentions have now turned to cute photos of critters. Just look at the popularity of cats, Nala and Pudge as well as Marnie the dog on Instagram. We are drawn to imperfection, sweet and gentle images of non-threatening animals. Matthew Brower suggests this is because we are searching for hope and whimsy in a chaotic world.

Hear more from Matthew Brower on Episode 2 / Capturing Pets of the Pet Sounds podcast. It is also available on iTunes