5 Tips for Taking Pictures with Live Animals & Kids
For the last 5 years we have been taking pictures with live baby chickens. Last year we added a bunny. The old saying is that you should not take pictures of kids and animals. But we love including both. And the pictures are without a doubt some of the cutest we produce all season.
1. Choose the right animals. The baby chicks we use are usually under a week old. Once they get past a week, they start to grow feathers. And then they can hop and fly. The younger the chicks the easier. The bunnies also work best when you choose one that has been well handled. Another photographer friend of mine does pictures with reindeer each holiday season. If you have the space and the reindeer connection, that’s great. But be careful, the bigger the animals the greater the risk of injury to the little child.
2. Plan for long term care of the animals. The welfare of the animals is important to us. These animals have a lovely home to go to after they work for us. It’s a family affair. In our case, my mom takes the chickens and has a lovely laying flock of hens that feed our family for a few years. Then they become our pets. The bunnies also live with the chickens. If you do not have a good home for the animals, skip taking pictures with them.
3. Have a handler. During the sessions make sure there is someone behind the camera and a handler for the animals. Not only is the child’s safety important, but so is the animals. The photographer’s job is to keep their eye through the camera. The handler’s job is to keep an eye on the animal. And to clean up the presents the animals leave behind.
4. Capture all the expressions. Ooohs, Ahhh, Smiles, Cries, and all. We just keep shooting and shooting. The faces we get on these shoots become some of our favorite photos of all time. So unique, and only come with the help of animals. Their expressions usually change from the first moment we introduce the chicks, to the first time they get to pet them. The first time the chick poops, to when they finally say goodbye.
5. Set the scene. We use lots of sets and props that go along with the animals. Children under 1 should be put in baskets and buckets to prevent them from touching the animals. This way you can have a great photo with everyone keeping safe. It also means you can put an egg in a child’s hand to keep them busy and they won’t notice when you stick a chicken on their head. Make sure to have lots of props as distractions. And of course to make it look extra cute.
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