ANIMALS ARE NOT PROPS


easter portraitsDo you see this adorable rabbit?  My daughter and I have just started a rabbitry.  This rabbitry is both a hobby for us as well as a way for my daughter to further her genetic studies in order to finish off her capstone in her animal science magnet school.

Isn’t she so sweet?   I will be sharing our Anomaly Rabbitry adventure on my Personal Blog.

And it’s almost Easter…….This is the time of year many photographers feel it is appropriate to purchase or borrow animals to use in Easter Portraits.

*big sigh*

rabbit-bite-photographerI want to show you the photograph that is going viral right now….  Rabbits are generally pretty docile.  Next time you are petting or holding a rabbit, take your fingers and place them near the chest.  You can feel the bunny’s heart racing.  He’s scared of you.  He’s scared of where he is.

Now take that scared bunny and put it with a spastic unpredictable toddler.  Toddler is doing what comes natural, grabbing, pulling, etc., and rabbit is going to do what comes natural for the rabbit – protect itself out of fear.

Putting the two together, you are setting both the toddler and the animal up for failure.  Why?  What purpose does this serve?  Is a photograph really worth it?

Let’s talk about some of this.

Safety Concerns for the Child

Besides for the obvious bites or scratches, some small animals such as chicks, can carry salmonella, e-coli, etc.  – you are risking a child touching the chick and then putting a hand in the mouth.

Safety Concerns for the Animalanimal

Children are going to be children.  Little ones do not realize that grabbing a bunny by the ears or a little too much squeeze on a chick can kill it.  Do you know that in some areas, you need to have a permit to be able to use animals such as rabbits and lambs in photo shoots?  You can be fined for not doing so.

Lawsuits

While reading the thread about this rabbit bite, I couldn’t help but notice a comment.   The commenter couldn’t seem to understand why there would be legal matters concerning a rabbit biting a child during a photo shoot.  “But isn’t it the parents’ fault for letting the photographer put the baby with the rabbit?”

Uhh…… No…… That’s not how it works.

There is such a small barrier to entry in the photography industry that many photographers have absolutely no idea how to run a business, and that includes not knowing legal issues.  Before ANYONE goes into business, they should become educated in business management, economics, and business law.  Unfortunately, probably 1% of the photographers out there actually have any of this formal business education…. so I feel the need to reiterate this point.

Be a Professional!!!!

I am not a lawyer.  Get your advice from your own attorney.  That said, this is the legal issue that I learned in business classes –

When a customer walks into an establishment (i.e., studio, your home, etc.), the customer has the right to a safe environment.  There is an expectation that any customer that walks in will have a safe experience.  It is the business owner’s responsibility to minimize any risk to their customers. The business owner is also providing a professional service to the public.  Customers will defer to the professional who is supposedly trained and an “expert” in what they do.   When an accident such as this occurs, the business owner can be held at fault for not providing a safe experience and can thus be sued.

Every photographer needs to know this and take this seriously.

EDITED – I cannot believe a local photographer/mom/friend of photog – is posting pictures of her daughter practically ripping a live chick apart and throwing it – captured all on camera – and she thinks it is completely funny – even has a picture of herself laughing and she laughs about how she almost tore a wing off of a chick last year. I’m so embarrassed to be a photographer. Completely embarrassed. No care at all for an animal’s life? My heart hurts. I showed my daughter, and she was horrified… absolutely horrified. The way people treat animals is a clear indicator of the type of person they are.

A Note to Parents

Parents, please understand – the photography industry is in a state of complete chaos – just because someone says they are a photographer and has decent photography work, does not mean that he/she is a professional, trained, experienced, and insured.  If you ever feel even the least bit uncomfortable about what a photographer is doing with your child,  SAY NO!!!!!!  You are the parent and are the authority on everything that happens to your child.  Do NOT “defer” to the professional.

dog baby

Disclaimer:  Can you photograph animals safely with children.  Yes.  There are photographers out there that will place the animal in, lets say a basket, and put the child near the basket, but animal and child are unable to harm each other.  There are also photographers who will composite an animal into the picture (for example, look at my portrait site and see newborn with dog – this is a composite.  The dog was never lying next to the newborn.  They were each placed separately and then photoshopped together later).  Do you personally photograph animals with your clients?  Only if the pets belong to the client.