Model Suffers First Degree Burns in Fire Photoshoot That Went Wrong

Model Suffers First Degree Burns in Fire Photoshoot That Went Wrong

A Canadian woman is warning other models of the dangers of risky shoots, after she was left with both 1st and 2nd degree burns across her body during a shoot that involved fire. The incident occurred after she responded to an online advert appealing for freelance models in the area. This article contains photos of burn injuries.

Robyn-Lee Jansen, a 22-year-old student and part time model from Vancouver, Canada, was hospitalized with her injuries following the shoot. The shoot was scheduled for June 13th.

She has recalled how the photographer, whom she’s chosen not to name, wanted to shoot with fire positioned behind her. Speaking exclusively to Fstoppers, Jansen says that after initial shots were taken with the fire contained inside a whisk, the photographer started squirting liquid paraffin, something he didn't communicate would be occurring. Before she knew it, or could protest her involvement in it, she was up in flames. She says he felt trustworthy due to being vouched for by a number of other models, and that the photographer also assured her the practice of what they'd be doing was totally safe.

She said:

 The shoot went fine until we got to the fire bit. The photographer seemed rushed and his family had called multiple times as we were running a little late. He proceeded to work with fire behind me, and then yelled, ‘stand still, this part gets tricky!’

Before I could even ask what he wanted to try, or any sort of explanation, he squirted a bottle of liquid paraffin oil while standing closer to me. The next thing I knew, I was up in flames.

Jansen was initially able to extinguish the flames that were consuming her using the “stop, drop, and roll” method, she then had to be rushed to the ER, where it was reported she suffered 2nd degree burns over 25% of her legs, and 1st degree burns over other areas of her body. Her treatment took several days due to the burns blistering, and she also required wound debridement — the removal of dead tissue. In the time since, Jansen has said the pain is so severe, she has had trouble walking on her own.

She is now considering her legal options in regards to filing a lawsuit against the photographer, meeting with lawyers this week.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist her medical expenses. It currently stands at around $8000.

“If the photographer can’t guarantee or provide [your safety], then just don’t do [the shoot]. It’s not worth your time and safety,” she added.

Images: Robyn-Lee Jansen, and used with permission.

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15 Comments

Grégory Carti's picture

The name of the photographer will be known anyway. This is the end of his career for being crazy stupid, putting people's life in direct danger. Don't be this guy, don't be stupid ! Obviously.
Prayers for prompt recovery for the model.

Poor girl. Burn wounds hurt terribly.

EL PIC's picture

You Have to Wonder ..
Who is Dumber ..
Photographers or Models ??

Michael Jin's picture

In this case, it seems that the photographer was vetted by several models so she had no reason to suspect that he would be irresponsible. That being said, there are plenty of red flags surrounding the actual incident that should have sounded some alarm bells. Don't play with fire if you're not trained to. Don't rush anything involving pyrotechnics. Always ask exactly what the expected outcome is. Always ask what the contingency plan is in case something goes wrong. Make sure that extinguishers are on hand. It's not the type of stuff that goes through the average person's mind, but people also need to be vigilant about their own safety because there are too many irresponsible people in the world why will not look after your even if it's their job to.

Gary WWU85's picture

Hopefully, he had liability insurance.

Liability insurance, at least in the US, would be of no help here. Because she was being given direction by the photographer, she is considered an employee. You need workers comp insurance in that case. Liability insurance only applies if an innocent bystander were to get hurt. If someone who had nothing to do with the shoot and was just passing by and got injured, then liability insurance would cover them.

Rob Davis's picture

I’ve also had models wanting to do dangerous things during shoots and you have to shut that stuff down. One time I had one that kept insisting I shoot her walking on the edge of a building. Every time she tried to approach to the edge I just set the camera down and walked away. You only get one life and one body. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Your title is totally incorrect. First degree burns is what you get from sunburns. Second degree burns is the more serious issue and should be in the title.

Wes Perry's picture

Some of her skin came off/had to be removed. That’s Third degree, isn’t it?

Jason Lorette's picture

This is nuts, you don't 'experiment' with fire and a live person, good lord practice with a mannequin or something. Get the process completely 'down' and then bring in a live model, with the appropriate safety precautions in place (fire extinguishers, assistants, etc).

Carl Murray's picture

That's all I could think. I've done a few shots here and there with fire, and I have people on standby with extinguishers, and fire blankets (one at the least, but preferably two people), and everything is done with planning and thorough communication, prior to anything being lit on fire!

And also, like, either have insurance, or sign a waiver, because there is ALWAYS a risk involved with this kind stuff.

Blistering burns = second degree. First degree is similar to a sunburn. Third degree is full thickness and worse (skin grafts).

Roger Dilts's picture

Liquid paraffin? Not real familiar with this other than most candles are made with a more solid form of it. The problem I have with the whole story is they make it sound as if there was an unexpected flash fire. I don’t think liquid paraffin would cause such a fire? Now gasoline on the other hand would. I have seen where people pour or spray gasoline from a container and the fire travels the vapor trail back to the container and then all hell and panic let’s loose and they either drop the container or throw it. Either way, like most have commented, fire is no joke and you need to have experience with it and safety measures in place which includes extinguishing agent and safety personnel on hand. This young girl is going to endure a long road of recovery and possibly scarred for life. Be safe out there people.

No shot is worth risking a person's life for.

As someone has previously mentioned, there were too many red flags that were not observed. As a photographer I get the artistic value in photographing attractive models with a fiery backdrop... If it's something you really want to do, appart from the obvious... fire extinguisher being at the ready...play it safe! Have the model a safe distance from the fire and use a telephoto lens to compress the background.