When Chris Cline and his girlfriend moved to the countryside in Buffalo, Minnesota, the scenery was gorgeous, but the weather wasn't terribly inviting in winter. With temperatures plummeting to minus 30 degrees, "having an indoor hobby is a must," Cline says, so he began experimenting with Photoshop, and his goldendoodle Juji became his star subject.
"At first it was just random things and then one day I created a photo of me riding on Juji's back and I posted it on my Facebook and Instagram pages and people just loved it," Cliine says. "Soon after that I made the decision to make these accounts 'all Juji ... all the time.'"
Originally an oil painter who created landscapes and portraits, Cline had fun experimenting with his new medium. First he made his canine friend huge, then tiny, until he decided on just the right size.
"Sometimes he was super small, and other times he was 20 feet tall. I finally settled on him being 7 feet tall because it's just large enough that you question whether or not it's real without it looking too fake," Cline says. "I make him larger than myself because dogs are such a huge part of our lives, so why not show people just how big I feel they are?"
Cline says he started the Instagram account just to have a place to post his funny creations, but soon people began to notice and really liked them. "That's when it really started to get fun," he says.
He quickly started collecting followers and now has 107,000 people regularly checking his Instagram for clever new images.
Cline says he crafts the idea for each image the night before the shoot, when he's lying in bed.
"That way when I awake in the morning, I already have a plan on what I need to do from start to finish," he says. "I start with my background images first, clouds and horizon shots, and then I build from there. I take all of my photos separately and (sky, land, Juji and myself) and I then load everything into Photoshop and begin to layer all of my images together, adjusting lighting and color as I go. Having come from an illustrator background, I find it extremely helpful when it comes to composition and arrangement of the subject matter in my work."
From photography through editing, the process takes anywhere from three to five hours.
It's not hard to come up with ideas when you live in a gorgeous place with a photogenic pup, Cline says.
"A lot of my inspiration comes from just everyday life with Juji. Obviously it is dramatized tenfold, but its still our adventures. We also live on a beautiful farm that offers us riverfront property and there's a lake at the end of our driveway. So finding inspiration here is not very difficult."
As giant Juji's popularity grew, Cline found fans worldwide clamoring for more images of the massive dog and her human sidekick. In fact, making the whimsical creations soon became his full-time job. Not only does he make the creative mashups of himself with Juji, but he also does commissioned work of people with their own larger-than-life pets.
"Now people from all over the planet email me photos of themselves and their dogs and I create special memories for them," Cline says. "I have worked with people on every continent now and countries all over the world."
Cline says his Photoshop adventures with Juji have changed his life.
"It never ceases to amaze me that I get paid to take pictures of my dog and share them with the world," he says.
"It also changed the relationship I have with Juji. We have been working together for so long now that we have formed a bond between one another that was unexpected. Before all of this, he and I were just a boy and his dog, but now it's different. He's not just my dog. He's my business partner, my buddy and my best friend. I truly can't imagine a world that doesn't include him in it."