Legal Case Examples
Next thing I wanna share with a few people is some of the stories that I've heard, some of the things that have happened in our industry and in some photographer's studios. It's a little scary and no one wants anything bad to happen. Like, god forbid something happens in your studio while you're in control of the session. I actually have been working with my lawyer back in Australia who's also a friend of mine. She's also married to an incredible wedding photographer, Deb Thomas. She has been so helpful with all of this information and pointing me in the right direction so that I can share what has happened because I don't think a lot of people are aware of the potential risks and dangers and some of the things that have happened and once we're aware of them, we're gonna make sure they never happen again, aren't we? These are some of the incidences that have happened. It's really scary. There's a lot of text on that screen, but I want you to read it. We're quoting some legal cases that...
have happened from around the world, not just in any particular country. These are global, and where babies have been endangered themselves, you know. God, this is something that really kinda gets me going because I just don't understand how some of these things have happened. A few years ago, a photographer was photographing a baby held by her assistant, and the assistant's arm gave way. The baby fell onto the bag and it fell onto the floor and had a permanent spinal injury. Our industry needs this education. Babies have been electrocuted while tied up in Christmas lights just for the sake of getting a Christmas card. A shopping mall, you know where they have all the little props and you see all the photos and the parents come along with their pram and they approach you and then you put them, you give them your baby and then the glass jar shatters. I'm sorry, but what makes anyone think that they can put a baby in a glass jar? Anything that could potentially break? A camera swinging forward. You put your arm through the camera, you put the camera around to your back hip and you lean forward, that camera is going to swing forward with force. It hit a baby in the head. I always say to shoot from above with the camera strap around your neck, but if you need to make an adjustment, you take that camera off, put it on the ground or hold onto it with your hand, with one hand. There's also a large number of cases where photographers have been sued because they don't have a signed client agreement. It's not just about safety of the baby sometimes, it's the safety about our business. There's also an incident where a photographer is going through a bit of an issue at the moment because her client agreement isn't actually specific for the country that she lives in. She's found it online, she's thought she's doing the right thing. "I'm gonna get a client agreement, I'm gonna put "the right procedures in place," but it was done for another country because it was bought online. I can't emphasis enough how important it is to speak to a legal professional in your area, in your state because the laws can change from state to state and country to country. And, I mean, this one is terrifying. A photographer was killed on a train track while doing a family portrait session. It's scary. When we talk about client's needs, occasionally we do get clients who come into the studio and they say, "I want my baby photographed with this." There has been photographs out there with horse's saddles, with sporting equipment, things like that. I've even had motorcycle helmets brought in because they may have loved motor bike riding, but they're like, "oh, I'd love to have a photograph "with my baby inside the helmet." I have stopped and looked at that helmet and looked at the size of the baby and thought, "how am I going to get the baby in there?" In my mind, I can't see it being an easy task, not even thinking about how many different safety precautions you would have to put into place because a helmet is round on the bottom. The only way to put a baby in there is in the top, so how is that going to be supported? It has to be a composited image, obviously, number one. But when our clients come to us with these expectations of what it is that they want, we have to really look at this and think about the potential risks and dangers that are involved in creating these setups. I used to be an office manager and during that process, I had to do a lot of risk analysis assessments in terms of workplace health and safety. Every time I go into a session, it's in the back of my mind. My risk analysis assessment is constantly going. (laughs) It's terrible, but it's worth it because I'm looking at the potential dangers and risks that could potentially go wrong, and I think we have to do that. Sometimes we get so caught up and we get excited. "Oh my god, the client brought in this, this, and this." There's even been images with babies near firearms and things like that. I'm not saying anything about what people believe in and what they do or their hobbies or those things. That's none of my business, but as a photographer, when I'm being asked to create something, I have to start at the top and work my way down to the final image to actually assess how am I gonna do this safely and eliminate all risks that are involved? If you are working with an assistant, make sure they're okay. When I'm getting my couples to hold the baby and it's warm, I'm considerate of the fact that this is a mum that's sleep deprived. It's also a warm studio, she's feeling hot. She might not have eaten enough that day. She might not be hydrated. They lose a lot of fluids, especially if they've had a cesarean. They're in a lot of pain, they're on different medications, things like that. I'm always asking them while they're holding their baby, "do you feel comfortable? "Let me know at any point if you don't feel comfortable." You need to do that if you're working with an assistant, as well. Make sure they are prepared. When we talked before about getting yourself, making sure you're healthy, making sure you're hydrated and eaten, make sure your assistant has as well. I don't work with assistants, so I work with parents, but the majority of the time, I'll get the dad to come and help me because he hasn't just given birth (laughs) and it's a very proud moment for him. It is kind of sad to read some of these cases. I also want to say that I was recently, well not recently, it was a little while ago. I think it was after my first class here on CreativeLive. I was quoted on a blog post and it was about putting babies in glass jars and things like that, but I was misquoted. Yes I did say that babies are designed to fit in small places 'cause that's what your stomach is and the whole birth process, and it's because they are nice and curly and I pose them the way that I want them to be nice and curly but at no point would I ever put a baby into a dangerous position or into a dangerous object, ever, so when we do talk about what other photographers are doing and like I said before, it's none of our business, be very, very careful that we have all the right information. Don't take anything out of context. Don't watch segments of this, watch the whole thing so you get all the information. I hear so often that people have said, "oh, but such and such is doing this, "such and such is doing that." Do you have all of the information? And get informed, learn, appreciate what it is that we're trying to teach here and watch the whole thing because I don't want anything to be taken out of context and at no point would I ever risk the safety of a baby and have an incident like some of these that have happened here.
Thank you, Kelly. This is serious business, and that is why we are here and that is why you are here. We do have a couple of questions to round out this lesson, and if you have any questions, again, grab the mic. Question going back to the sickness aspect, do you, this is from Indian Summer Photo, who says, "I had a newborn client show up "for a session and the kids were sick there. "Do you ask them to go home? "Do you ask them to reschedule? "What happens once they are already there?"
That is actually a really great question because as I mentioned before, I actually have in my terms and conditions when clients do hire me, I have a section in there about rescheduling. I tell them that if they feel that their child or they themselves are unwell or becoming sick or are sick that it is best to reschedule. I also have in there that if the session has started and it does need to be rescheduled due to that, there is a $50 rescheduling fee. I'm giving them an incentive not to come to my studio by saving money 'cause no one wants to have to pay more than what they actually do, but they need to know, and I've set so many boundaries within my business for my clients so that they know what to expect. They know where they stand when they're hiring me. Have all of these things in place. I have so many different terms and conditions because clients feel confident, they feel like they know what they're getting themselves into if they have all the right information. It is really important if someone is sick and then turns up to my studio, and I have had people turn up to my studio, and it is heartbreaking to have to turn them away because some people just desperately want the photos, and they're like, "oh my god," but have the information there for them. Please reschedule if you're feeling unwell or your children are unwell.
Thank you. What would you recommend where people go and do research for both the legal aspects, but finding a medical professional that would have information about this? Sort of everything that we have talked about in this lesson, how do they research that in their own area?
That's a great point as well because it is hard finding the right information and there is so much information out there. Google, it's overwhelming when you go to Google and you search for something because there are so many different articles written by so many different places and websites and blogs and you don't know if the people that have written that are qualified. My best advice that I can give you is get a lawyer. Invest in that. That's a cost of business. It's expected. You need a lawyer, you need someone that can provide you with the right information in your state, in your country. Yes, it can be a big outlay, but it is worth it because all of those cases that we looked at before, you could potentially be sued for a lot of money and then your business is gone. Your home could potentially gone and you've not only impacted yourself, you've impacted the whole industry. My lawyer is such an incredible source of information. She's so helpful and if she, she'll go out and find the information that I need just to be able to prepare me, especially when I'm traveling to other countries. It's so important as well, if you are shooting outside your local area. But when it comes to medical practitioners, we all go to the doctor, we all go to a GP. Ask them. If you have any concerns, tell them. I have now a relationship with my doctor. My whole family goes to the same doctor, so if I ever have a concern, I always ask her and say, "is there someone that she can recommend? "Is there a specific specialist that I "should be looking at, speaking with?" A lot of the information that I'm sharing with you about those medical terms and when we go in a bit further into the course about the posing and the body and the anatomy of the baby, they've been learnt by a neonatal physiotherapist, an actual qualified practitioner. She's also electro to university in Australia and she's been so helpful with all the information that I need because there are some practitioners out there that aren't really aware of what it is that we do unless they themselves had newborn photos, they're not aware of what's happening in the photography industry because they're focused on their industry. Yeah, finding the right people to help you can be tough and some people aren't so forthcoming with information because they're scared about what that information's going to be used for, but be honest with them. Tell them what it's for, why it's specific, and if it's just for your studio, then perfect. If you are mentoring, if you are educating other photographers, find someone who can help you with getting the right information that you can share to other photographers because yeah, unfortunately, there are people out there mentoring that are sharing the wrong information.