Bunnies, Chicks, & Ducklings, oh my!

It’s that wonderful time of year where I get lots of inquiries for spring & Easter sessions featuring cute tiny LIVE animals. While I personally LOVE  snuggling sweet little creatures I cannot have them in studio unless they are your own personal pet. I am going to be pretty honest and upfront about this. As all my clients know, I am very transparent when it comes to my business. I am happy to use my photoshop skills and include animals digitally. I promise they will look very lifelike and real in the photos.

Here are a couple reasons why I cannot have the cute baby animals for sessions.

For Parents: 

  • Using live animals during a portrait session does require licenses & permits that your photographer should be displaying prominently.
  • Rabbit Fever or Tularemia sucks
  • Salmonella is terrible too. Chicks & Duckings can carry salmonella that can make your kiddo sick. The CDC recommends that children under the age of 5 not even handle them.
  • Although chicks are not regulated the same way bunnies and lambs are please keep in mind that they are delicate creatures that can be injured very easily with too hard of snuggles.
  • Poop. Yep, baby animals make messes. There is no way to stop a baby animal from letting loose. This means it could happen near your kiddo or even as they hold them.
  • Whoops…. Okay, I don’t want to bring this up but it has to be said. What if little Sally hugs the chick too tight and the little chick stops moving……. Baby animals and bunnies are super fragile. Rabbits if hugged too tight or dropped could have their backs or legs broken. Stress alone can cause bunnies to have random rapid heart failure. I don’t want to capture your kids crying if something like this happens.
  • Kiddos don’t take great photos if they are crying. Chicks have sharp beaks and claws & Bunnies can also bite or scratch. They don’t mean to hurt anyone but injuries can happen. Even slight ones many break your toddlers heart and make her cry the rest of the session. Also if they scratch hard enough that can send you to the Urgent Care with your child and I don’t ever ever ever want anything like that to happen.

For Photographers: 

  • All of the above 🙁
  • Using live animals (mammals) during sessions require a license from the federal government USDA & a second license by most state governments as well. These are 2 different licenses that have to be renewed every year! Here is a direct link from the USDA (Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act)  and here is an actual quote

“Promotional Exhibits—Anyone who uses regulated animals to promote or advertise goods and services must be licensed. (If you give away or sell animals as a prize, you must be licensed as an exhibitor.) You must be licensed even if you do promotions with only a single animal, such as a bear at a gasoline service station, a monkey at a trade show, or an elephant at a shopping center. You also must be licensed if you use animals to promote photographs or photography.”

  • The fine if found doing this without licenses from the federal government and state government is $10,000. Yep, no joke. PETA is know to actively search out and report photographers that advertise live animals. There were some huge issues on the west coast last year with businesses getting turned in.
  • If you can obtain the necessary licenses you also need to make sure your business liability insurance covers any damages that could happen to your clients and/or the animals. If you have questions about this I recommend contacting Jon Sartain (317) 856-9165 Ext 2328 jon.sartain@infarmbureau.com. He knows his stuff when it comes to insurance.
  • Schedule an inspection from the USDA so they can see your studio and where you will be housing the animals before, during, and after the sessions. You also have to have bedding, heat lamps, food, and any necessary care items.
  • Stay legit! We all need to support each other and be professional. Following the law and protecting our clients is a number 1 priority.


8 thoughts on “Bunnies, Chicks, & Ducklings, oh my!

  1. The bunny looks so real, and such a fun way of incorporating animals into your family photos! Next time I’m in Indianapolis, I will need to look you up!

  2. This is such a helpful and informative blog post for parents and photographers, this is why you are the best Indianapolis Photographer!

  3. What great tips not only for Indianapolis families but also other family photographers! I would love to pass along your info to my cousins looking for a family photographer this spring

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