VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CTV Network/CNN) - A freelance model plans to sue a photographer after she suffered first- and second-degree burns down her back and legs during a photo shoot.
Robyn-Lee Jansen, 22, responded to an ad for an abandoned warehouse shoot in Vancouver, using a popular website that connects photographers, models, makeup artists and others.
When she got in touch with the photographer, he mentioned he’d like to involve fire. Jansen is not naming the photographer publicly because she intends to pursue legal action.
"He had a concept that he wanted to try with me, like a fire queen concept, which he had already had on his portfolio," Jansen said.
She says the photo showed two women and something on fire that was a distance in front of them, which didn’t look dangerous. She also knew a couple models who had worked with the photographer and checked out his pictures and reviews.
“The comments that were left on his page were really good: ‘He’s great to work with. He’s really considerate,’” Jansen said.
The two met June 13 for the two-hour photo shoot, and initially, things were going well. But Jansen says the photographer began to get interrupted by phone calls, and she felt he was becoming rushed.
“Towards the end, he started doing some fire-lighting art behind me,” Jansen said. “And he starts getting frustrated because he’s not getting the shot he wants.”
Jansen says the photographer didn’t explain what he was planning but grabbed something he later described as a bottle of tiki torch fluid or liquid paraffin. Before the model could ask what was going on, the photographer squeezed the bottle.
"And the next thing, I'm in flames," Jansen said. "It was the most painful thing that I've ever experienced.”
Jansen dropped and rolled into a puddle to extinguish the fire.
"I just knew something was terribly wrong because after the fire got put out, it felt like it was scorching even further," she said.
Jansen says the photographer did not call 911 but instead insisted on driving her to the hospital. He packed up his equipment before he did so, while the model waited in shock and pain.
On the drive to the hospital, the photographer allegedly suggested Jansen could say there was an accident with a barbecue.
Jansen learned at the hospital she had second-degree burns on about 25 percent of her body, including the back of her legs. She also had a mixture of first- and second-degree burns on her bottom and back.
"I may need skin grafts. We'll find out next week if I'm looking at more surgery,” Jansen said.
Jansen now wants to warn other models to put their safety first and demand a waiver form in advance. She says she never saw a fire extinguisher or first aid kit on the set.
“Demand that there be safety, security and emergency procedures in place,” she said. “If you have any doubts, don’t do it.”