Does the Easter bunny visit your studio?

With Easter just around the corner, the debate on using live animals in studio always makes an appearance. We asked on theLoop, “Have you ever used live animals for your shoots? What kind of precautions do you take to ensure the animal's and subject's safety?” 

Here's what your fellow photographers had to say:

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Tracey Luttgens of Braselton, GA: “I have used a bunny in the past for Easter sessions. It was at a pet store and the bunny was from a rescue group, and was up for adoption. For most of the sessions the bunny was in a basket and was allowed to be pet but not held so there was less chance of injury to the bunny or the children. If the child was older, then they were allowed to hold the bunny for one image. I now mainly photograph pets so won't be offering bunny sessions this year. I have also found many life like bunny and chick props to use instead. For me, safety of the animals and my clients are always more important than the “cute” factor of the shot! One bit of information I learned :if you do plan to use “live Animals that are not the clients” in many states you will need a permit from the USDA.”

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Joanne Fabian of Souderton, PA: “I have not [used live animals], but heard stories in Boston during college where the photographers would do the sessions then take the bunnies out and let them go in the woods after the season! Having been bought from a store, these poor creatures never would have been able to survive in the wild. I hope what you hear is with a responsible plan of what to do with the animals afterwards.” 

She went on to say “I forgot to add the one guy did not feed them or give them water either so there was no chance of them making a mess. Can you imagine. He was fined when it was reported. No animal rights groups were active in the 70's I guess.”

Dianna Griffin of Marysville, OH: “You can purchase life-like bunnies and chicks from any reputable photography prop store. I bought a set of 3 bunnies years ago and they were only $38.00 for the set. No one knew the difference, including the kids. I had toddlers petting and kissing those bunnies and no one got hurt. I did have a client that had baby chicks on their farm that she wanted to use with her son. We tried, and I was able to get a couple of really cute images but it was a battle for the mom to try to keep her toddler from squeezing the chicks when he held them.”

Al Wilson of Rome, GA: “Here's an idea I've used in the past. I secured an agreement with a local pet store owner to allow me to conduct child & family portrait sessions in the petting area of the store. The rabbits and other animals were well cared for by the store staff. As most of you with children probably know, once you take your child to a pet store they'll want to go back. The pet store business increase and I was invited back for more. The weekend portrait sessions were a winner for both of us. The next year we increased sessions to Monday-Friday (after school to close) plus Saturday (open to close).”

What is your take on using live animals in the studio? Worth the hassle and insurance or skip it? Chime in on theLoop!