Traverse City, Michigan Photographer: Why I don't use live animals for Easter

Easter Mini sessions are a major hit among our industry and has become a big money maker for some photographers even here in Traverse City Michigan. However the use of live animals for them remain a controversy. Using live animals for Easter sessions is probably the most adorable thing you have ever seen. The adorable little bunnies and chicks with a cute toddler or child. Before I knew any better I even had my own twins as 6 month old babies photographed with bunnies at Easter time. It really doesn't get much cuter, but how good is it for the animal? Rabbits are extremely sensitive and have even been known to die of fright. Think how it must be to live in a hutch, quite and dark. Then come into this strange large (usually a studio) area with bright lights that flash, kids that are loud and scream, and that they or the parents do not properly know how to hold them. I have heard of animals falling or being dropped. Some where just hurt but others have actually died from this. There are also the legal issues involved with some of this. People who travel with animals for shows or other events hold special licensing from the USDA and this is not much different. Legally you need to know the rules of your state if you need special licensing. Then there is the liability factor. Babies and young children with a frightened animal, it is only a matter of time when someone gets bit or scratched which can lead to a lawsuit. Then there is a the sanitation of it all. Animals, especially rabbits urinate and defecate a lot. And when I say a lot, I am talking a lot. I have three rabbits and trust me, they require a weekly or bi-weekly cage cleaning. How sanitary is that for your clients? There are a lot of zoonotic diseases as well that animals can carry that you don't even know they have that can be transferred from animal to human. Especially those with weakened immune systems. Two of my rabbits were recently diagnosed with E Cuniculi. One of my rabbits had a slight head tilt and was drinking water excessively so we had him tested. It was a special test rarely done but we thought we better be on the safe side and over $200 later for one test we found out he was positive for it. We then had to get the other two tested because of the severity of the results from the test. One of the other rabbits were positive and one was negative. The one who tested positive had zero symptoms. I had no clue. The reason I mention this is because E Cuniculi is a zoonotic disease that can be transferred to humans. The chance of it happening is rare but it still is a reason to perhaps stay away from using animals for photoshoots. The risk is too much for the animals, the child, and your own business to justify it for a pretty picture. The only time I use animals for pictures is if it is their own pet. The animal is use to the child and it can create a beautiful image showing the connection between animal and human. The rush of mini sessions with people running in and out and children screaming and poking the animals is just not right. This is just my opinion of course but it is exactly why I don't use live animals for Easter. 

Annelise Nicole Photography, LLC

Annelise Nicole Photography, LLC