As Easter approaches, the ads and pictures with live bunny photo sessions begin to pop up. I have been asked in the past, and have lost clients, because of my unwillingness to bring in live rabbits for Easter photographs. I wanted to write a post to help my current and future clients understand why I have chosen not to participate in this practice.
First, as a father of one year old twins and having photographed many children, there is one common element to kid’s portraits, unpredictability. Whether it is a sudden meltdown or a burst of happy dancing, kids move and do a lot of unexpected things; especially in a new and strange environment like a photo studio.
Unlike dogs and cats, which I have brought into the studio on multiple occasions, rabbits are prey animals. Even the most socialized pet rabbit can panic when handled improperly. A frightened rabbit can bite and scratch, inflicting deep lacerations and puncture wounds. Additionally, my wife, a veterinarian, has heightened my knowledge of these animals. I was horrified to learn that a frightened and improperly handled rabbit can kick hard enough to break its OWN spine. Many young children have not yet learned the concept of ‘gentle’ and could inadvertently injure the bunny or become injured themselves when curiosity and excitement lead them to mishandle the unsuspecting ‘living prop’.
Finally, from reading several animal shelter websites, I have learned that there is a dramatic increase in rabbits given up in the weeks following Easter, a rabbit is a 10 year commitment. I understand that a picture of a child with a cute cuddly bunny is a great holiday photo, I was even the star of some of these pictures in my own youth, but I cannot in good conscience bring bunny into my studio for a seasonal boost in sales, a season which would be good for income but terrible for one of the stars of the photos.
The Professional Photographers of America, the biggest industry trade group, has partnered with the "Make Mine Chocolate" organization to try and replace young bunnies as gifts with chocolate ones. If you would like a photo of your child with a bunny I would suggest a stuffed one, Lanigan's Lens own Easter bunny is quite content in the prop box with the other seasonal props.