Sam is an artist shiba inu from Berlin in a plaid button-down shirt who poses with his easel. Bertha is a microdosing king poodle chef who frequents the Berlin club Berghain. Bruno the boxer will hustle you in pool at the local dive bar; Pan the tarot-reading vizsla wants to know your sun and rising signs.
For the past few years, De Koekkoek, who is based in Berlin and Vienna, has produced an tongue-in-cheek annual calendar revealing the secret lives of animals, including chaotic cats suspended in midair, chill alpacas edited into envious Instagrammable interiors, and fluffy pinup guinea pigs. It’s a way for the photographer to wrap the year of editorial and commercial work, for clients including Apple, Helmut Lang, the New York Times, and L’Officiel.
Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek imagined the lifestyles of 12 dogs in a new calendar. Credit: Courtesy Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek
“It’s always a challenge to shoot with animals. You cannot tell them what to do — or at least they will not give a f*** about it,” said De Koekkoek over email. “I really like this honest approach and the challenge of communication without words.”
De Koekkoek himself is a dog owner — of Mr. October, Limo, who is a vegan row machine enthusiast — and for “Doggystyle,” he let the dogs guide the creative direction. “The dogs came with their personalities and we just had to put together their outfits and sets to (emphasize) their lifestyles,” he explained. (One dog, Amok, appears to be the most neurotic in a tinfoil hat and tinfoil room.) Mr. Limo, who is often the photographer’s muse, was “the first trial” for the project. “I really enjoy the creative exchange between us, and we love to play and experiment a lot,” De Koekkoek said.
Joining Limo is a tired shar-pei businessman who has been in meetings all day (March), an aloof mixed-breed gamer girl who probably outranks you in Call of Duty (April), and an all-too-eager chihuahua reporter for “DNN” (December). De Koekkoek says that Mr. March resonates with him in particular because he “spent so much time in creative calls this year during the (coronavirus) lockdown,” he commented.
They are now part of De Koekkoek’s insider look at animal lifestyles, though the photographer says that the dogs do not canonically inhabit the same world as his earlier magazine cover-ready alpacas or frazzled flying cats. “Maybe there is a certain space inside of my childish brain in which they all come together to play with each other,” he said.
He hopes the series can provide some levity for a calendar year that may be stressful, yet again. “Humor is what definitely drives my work,” he said. “There are enough bad things going on already. So I want to give people a pause and just have a laugh.”