Sometimes, we find our best friends in the unlikeliest of places. Photographer Julia Marie Werner found hers five years ago while working as an assistant on a car commercial in Spain. During the shoot, a friendly, homeless dog was looking for food. Werner subsequently rescued the pup and took him home with her to Hamburg, Germany. There, she gave him the stately-sounding name Tschikko Leopold von Werner.
After welcoming the dog into her life, Werner noticed that “he looked like a lion with his bright eyes and the color of his hair.” He specifically reminded her of Simba from The Lion King because he was always chasing the butterflies and crickets in her garden. To pair looks with personality, she created a mane for him–just like the big cats.
Werner also saw that her new-found pup was photogenic. This natural inclination towards the camera as well as a ready-made costume inspired her project Grossstadttlowe (translation: Big City Lion). Werner and her “big city lion” took off on an urban adventure: she took him–dressed in the mane–to different places around Hamburg as he posed among buildings, amusement parks, the subway, and more. In each photo, Tschikko shares the spotlight with the city, serving as its a king proudly watching over his urban jungle.
The endearing series of images highlight the joy and humor that comes from this special bond between human and animal. Tschikko’s willingness to pose for Grossstadttlowe shows a love and complete trust in Werner, after he was lost in the world but is now found.