Photographer defends picture of baby boy posing with a BB gun: 'This photo is in no way meant to encourage gun violence'

An Indiana photographer is in hot water for re-creating scene from <em>A Christmas Story.</em> (Photo: Coffee Creek Studio)
An Indiana photographer is in hot water for re-creating scene from A Christmas Story. (Photo: Coffee Creek Studio)

A photographer in Shelbyville, Ind., is celebrating Christmas a little early this year, sharing a photo of a baby that re-creates a scene from the holiday classic A Christmas Story. Despite her intent to spread cheer, however, Amy Haehl of Coffee Creek Studio is receiving mixed reactions to her photo of a baby boy dressed up as Ralphie — pink bunny suit, gun, glasses, and all.

Haehl took to her business’s Facebook page to post one of her latest works, a photograph of a baby boy named William in a setting with miniature furniture that looks nearly identical to what’s in the film. The one prop some could have done without was the mini BB gun, crafted from wood.

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“Ralphie loved his pink bunny suit I had made for him!” Haehl captioned the photo, before adding a disclaimer about the fake gun. “The BB gun is made of wood to ensure that he did not shoot his eye out during the creation of this photo.”

Real or fake, a couple of her followers shared their concerns about portraying a child with the weapon in today’s political climate.

“Will now unfollow you. Who the hell would take a picture of a baby and a gun just for money. Such a waste since you are so talented. Think hard about your lack of principles,” someone commented. Haehl replied to clarify that she hadn’t in fact been paid to do it. “In a world where there’s so much negative let’s be positive and laugh a little! I clearly stated the gun was wood just in case someone would be concerned.”

Another complaint followed: “Also unfollowing and unliking you. Extremely distasteful. How do you think the parents of the babies that were killed in Newtown would feel looking at this photo? Guns are never ‘cute,’ not even as a prop or movie reference. Disgusting. I hope none of our babies are ever shot. The gun culture in this country is a disgrace.”

Still, Haehl tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she meant to “bring a smile to people’s faces” with the re-creation.

Of course I know in the world we live in I was taking the chance that someone would be offended, and I definitely did take that into consideration while still creating a photo with the perfect details,” she says. “I know there have been a few comments made in regards to gun violence, and this photo is in no way meant to encourage gun violence or offend anyone who has been affected by gun violence.”

In fact, the photographer says that she had intended to remind people of a time when life was simpler, which seemed to resonate with many people.

Many commenters picked up on the nostalgia of the photo, saying that it put them in the Christmas spirit and they’d love to do this with their own children. For Haehl, it was the kind of challenge that she feels is necessary sometimes to keep her from burnout in her profession.

I have learned through my years as a photographer that sometimes you have to do something that fuels your creativity to be excited about and avoid burnout,” she explains. “This photo is that for me.”

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