it's almost spring

Spring has almost sprung. It's time to watch flowers bloom, baby birds will be hatching and all the critters will start scurrying about. It's probably my favorite time of the year. Everything is new and fresh except for this very old tradition. It's my least favorite expectation as a photographer. "Will you use real animals for your Easter minis?" Loaded questions deserve loaded answers. So this is why my answer will always be NO.

Animals bite

Animals are unpredictable. Even the sweetest little furry friends can leave a mark. Take it from someone who has raised guinea pigs, African Grey and other parrots, chickens and even a bull named Simon. With tiny hands squeezing an animal, that animal gets scared and goes into defense mode. Do you really want to subject your children to unpredictable animals? Do you really want to torture these animals by allowing multiple strangers to pass them around for pictures? If the answer is yes, keep reading.

baby animals are fragile

I watched a guinea pig get picked up, not even remotely rough, and snap. We heard it. His back was broken and he didn't survive the night. Watching my poor baby writhe in pain was absolute torture. Most children do not have the understanding of how to handle such a small and fragile creature. Since these sessions are geared towards toddlers and even infants, the understanding of such creatures is even less. Just think, the perfect picture could literally end one of these animal's lives. Sounds like a Kodak moment huh?

animals are not disposable

This statement shouldn't require elaboration but here goes.

I have the ability to be honest and say I cannot home animals after these sessions. That's the responsible thing to admit. I watch photographers post in buy sell trade groups this time of year EVERY YEAR. "Who has baby bunnies? Who has chicks? Anyone have a baby lamb I can borrow?"


And then once the sessions are done, the money has been made...they are begging people to take these baby animals off their hands. So basically these animals are like any other prop. They are disposable and only good while they are little. Nobody wants an old duck in their Easter sessions so out with the old, next February I can get another batch of new. What a horrible process.

animals are more responsibility

Using live animals in photo sessions requires a particular license/permit. If your photographer has one then you are good to go. Chances are they do not. This license is issued by the USDA and there are specific requirements that an APHIS inspector calls the Photographer with. I don't have this license and choose to not have it therefore it gives me another reason to not use live animals.

  1. Using animals requires special permits
  2. Animals are not disposable props
  3. Baby animals can be harmed easily
  4. Baby animals bite and so do lawyer fees

So that sums up the reasons why I say no to these. Let me add that your own animals are always welcome in photos! I love using your own animals that are familiar with you. I just don't agree with buying baby animals to use and then get rid of. I always have a solution to give you the same experience with less risk. though. That's very important to me, giving you options.

so here's the solution

PHOTOSHOP. I will always happily photoshop animals into the pictures to give that special touch. It protects your child(ren), protects the baby animals and protects my business. You and your child's safety are always my number one concern. If it's too risky for my own kiddos, then I won't do it for you. I hope that you can take information from this rather than let it upset you. Before I became a photographer, I was clueless about these issues. I also am not degrading other photographers who did this (the right ways) but in fact am stating reasons WHY I SAY NO. At the end of the day I can only control my own actions but I also live under the motto of "Know better, do better" so here is your KNOW BETTER, what will you do with it?