Babies and BB Guns: This Photographer Is Under Fire for a Christmas Story Inspired Infant Photo?

Babies and BB Guns: This Photographer Is Under Fire for a Christmas Story Inspired Infant Photo?

According to a recent Yahoo article, Shelbyville, Indiana based photographer Amy Haehl is drawing ire for including a replica gun in a recently released infant photo inspired by the perennial film A Christmas Story. 

The photo features some of the most iconic props from the popular holiday film, including glasses, the pink bunny costume, and the leg lamp, but it was the baby-sized wooden gun replica that created the initial controversy. In a Facebook post, Haehl, who runs Coffee Creek Studios, wrote that she'd long wanted to create a photograph inspired by the beloved movie, and that staying true to the movie meant including the object of Ralphie's feverish Christmas desires. 

“This photo is not about a baby posed with a 'gun'… it is about love, tradition, family, and happiness,” Haehl wrote on her Facebook page. “['A Christmas Story'] has encouraged smiles, laughter, and happiness for 35 years. It also happened to be filmed right here in the Midwest where I was born and raised."

Not all commenters agreed with Haehl's sentiments, however. According to a Fox News article, the following comments, left on the original Facebook post by unhappy users, have since been deleted.

“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.”
“Also unfollowing and unliking you. Extremely distasteful…. Guns are never 'cute', not even as a prop or movie reference. Disgusting. The gun culture in this country is a disgrace.”

Some Yahoo commenters also wondered whether the photo was in good taste considering the current political climate around firearms. 

"I don't know. How can we think this is cute when again there is a massacre with kids involved. I just can't think this is cute."

"As a photographer I do not feel that with what is happening today there is any reason to post such a photo. Really did you think before you posted this? Just my opinion of course, but really. 1000 Oaks, Columbine, Parkland, Las Vegas just to name a few. Or maybe you like that 16 YO boy a few years back just want us to feel more comfortable around guns?" 

After searching through comments sections on the news articles and original post, though, most comments seem to be highly supportive and encouraging. Even Haehl herself said, in her Facebook statement, "other than a few negative comments which is to be expected, there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to this photo and loved by many."

One wonders whether a few negative comments were worthy of the original article, and if articles of this kind are being written merely to create and take advantage of online knee-jerk outrage. What will this trend mean for photographers in the future, when a few negative comments can spawn several articles on large media outlets looking to take advantage of potential outrage? In this instance, it looks like a talented photographer is benefiting from the coverage and receiving loads of support, but how will such a trend affect photographers in the future? Will we see efforts at causing controversy merely for the potential press, or will photographers hold back from sharing images in fear of online reprisals?

Do you think the content of the photograph deserves critique? Do photographers have a responsibility to tip-toe around emotionally charged issues, or is our first duty to our own creative impulses whether it offends others or not? Sound off below.

Lead image used with permission of Amy Haehl

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159 Comments

He is informing you that there is no point for you to respond to his comments. Isn't that obvious? Why do you persist?

Sorry, just trying to help. I didn't realise my comment would upset you so much.

Intolerant - what a load of dribble and absolute hypocrisy. I stand by my comment and you're only digging your hole deeper with every reply you make. Good luck for the future!

Bob Brady Jr.'s picture

STOP IGNORING ME PAPA!!

Tim Ericsson's picture

Why does he persist? Because he’s like herpes: one you think you’re clear, he pops up again!

William Howell's picture

If anyone would like to know why Americans hold to and love the 2nd Amendment, just take a look at Francisco Goya’s “The Third of May.”

Of course this faux outrage is just click bait, but click bait can be informative too.

The photograph is superbly executed and original, my favorite thing to photograph is little kids. I love it.

Rob Davis's picture

We know. It's a bunch of people who like to play "Operator AF" dress-up and live in the fantasy that there's ever going to a be infantry-based ground war in America where their small arms will be the deciding factor.

You're probably right on a large scale but a small arm could decide who dies in a one-on-one encounter with a soldier of an oppressive government or a rogue law enforcement officer.

William Howell's picture

No, he is wrong, small arms can win a fight against a much larger force, it has occurred numerous times.

As weapons become more sophisticated, that outcome becomes increasingly improbable. Not impossible, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

Leigh Smith's picture

We've been at war in Afghanistan for how many years? Small arms and gorilla warfare is a powerful combination.

I was referring more to Rob's scenario in the U.S. but, yeah, point taken.

Michael Jin's picture

That's mostly because we're not really into filling caves with poisonous gas or leveling entire cities of civilians along with enemy fighters as such tactics would generally be frowned on. Small arms and guerrilla warfare are only useful against an enemy who is waging the type of limited warfare that we are engaging in over there.

Also note that even those fighters are using RPG's, fully automatic assault rifles, and heavy explosives—not hand guns or weaponry that you would be legally allowed to own in this country anyway. The 2nd Amendment is obsolete in regard to providing you any real ability to protect yourself from a tyrannical government. I don't think our Founding Fathers even dreamed of the scale of destructive capabilities that are available to governments today.

William Howell's picture

If one where to take up small arms to fight a much larger and better equipped force, I’m going to guess that the farm has already been seized!

...or you took up arms to prevent its seizure.

Rob Davis's picture

Extremely unlikely either would go into a hostile situation alone. Even if they did, they'd have trained rigorously for exactly that type of scenario.

I'm rarely able to choose the situations I find myself in.

Rob Davis's picture

Exactly. Firearms for civilian self-defense are only useful in an extremely limited situation where you're ambushed, and yet still manage to get the upper-hand without having the tactical advantage. You introduce far more danger to your household than you protect against with a firearm. Not just physical danger, but also financial danger.

Your final two sentences are very situational. Having said that, I don't even own a gun but have no problem with anyone else having one/some.

Rob Davis's picture

You should care because you are asked to sacrifice for other peoples choices. Spend a day taking note every time you see that something has occurred or has been changed because someone "might have a gun." You might be surprised how much gun ownership affects your life even if you've never owned a gun.

There are only so many moments in one's life and I don't have that many left in mine. Like everyone, I have to choose what to spend those moments caring about and, I'm sorry, guns didn't make the cut. :-/

Just last night nailed one coyote and drove off five others trying to lure our dogs from the barnyard. Shot a skunk as well before it got into the barn.
Firearms have their uses.

You need bigger dogs! ;-)

William Howell's picture

You’re not very bright. Do you read books, I mean real novels and biographies, not Dr. Seuss. Have you read any of The Federalist Papers, or The United States Constitution.

God we’re f*cked.

jacob kerns's picture

You're right William. The French Resistance was vital in helping Allied forces. Hell Afghanistan has been fighting off Russia and other occupying forces for decades and with small arms before other countries supplied them with heavy arms and equipment.

Rob Davis's picture

If you want to ignore the staggering amount of technological advances in war-fighting and hold up the French Resistance in WWII and the Mujaheddin as your success stories, well that's special. Why leave out Ruby Ridge or Waco while you're at it?

What pray tell do you have in your closet that can stop prevent a drone strike at 10,000 feet?

jonas y's picture

Let me just agree with you for once, 2A should cover modern arms.

Rob Davis's picture

Nuclear weapons?

WMD: A recording of Yoko Ono and loud speakers! :-)

jonas y's picture

Do you know what is the difference in useage between regular weapon and nuclear weapon?

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