Baby modelling: 10 top tips from experts and parents
Baby and child modelling can be a positive experience for you and your little one, developing their confidence and self-esteem. We got the lowdown from experts and parents on how to approach and work with child modelling agencies.
Embarking on baby modelling with your little one can be a fun way to fill their first year. Not only will your heart burst at the seams when you see their photos in magazines and catalogues, you will be amazed how much it develops your baby's confidence and self-esteem.
For many parents and their children, modelling can be a positive experience but it takes time and patience to get your big break. From preparing for castings to getting work permits, we asked experts at child modelling agencies and parents of child models their top tips for breaking into the industry.
Do your research first
To find a reputable baby and child model agency, use social media and Google, and ask mums whose children model about their experiences. Amanda Johns, owner of child model agency Grace and Galor suggests looking at agency websites, Facebook pages and the type of children they have on their books in order to help you choose the right agency. You could also contact children's clothing and toy brands to see which agencies they use for their campaigns.
Be wary of agency fees
Most agencies don't charge joining fees, but some reputable ones ask for a yearly charge, which covers any photographs taken or admin costs. Try to visit the agency first to get a feel of it and ask to see photos of other children they represent and the kind of work they do.
Don't get professional photos
All that baby and child modelling agencies require are clear snapshots that you've taken of your tot – so ignore any ads offering to take professional pictures of your child. 'Show your friends the photographs you're thinking of sending to agencies and ask them for their honest opinions!' advises Amanda.
Don't send agencies poor shots
'We get parents sending us photos of children covered in food or wearing hats or sunglasses. Very cute, but we have to go back and ask for clear facial headshots and a full-length shot,' says Sue Walker, founder of child model agency Kids London.
Choose an agency that's near you
One thing that's guaranteed is if you've spent three hours on a packed train getting to a job or casting, you'll arrive with a grumpy toddler. So if you have a good local agency, use them – there are child-modelling agencies all around the UK and Urban Angels even has two divisions – one for the north and one for the south.
The larger ones tend to be in the bigger cities, so if you're a maximum of two hours away from, say, London, Liverpool or Manchester, that will definitely help. You also need to be prepared to travel to jobs on location – often in remote areas, so map-reading skills or a reliable sat nav are essential!
Be 100% committed
You'll be ferrying your children to castings and jobs so it is vital to be punctual and organised. Also be prepared to be available at short notice. 'Quite often we get a call the night before to tell us about a casting the next day, which can be tricky to organise,' explains Lucy, mum to Evie, seven and Scarlett, five.
What can your little one earn?
Fees can vary widely between jobs, depending on what work they do and how many hours they work. Average wages are £40-£50 an hour, but agencies will take around 20 per cent of this for fees. Advertising and TV commercials pay more than editorial and the older a child is the longer hours they can work, so the pay is adjusted accordingly.
The fees are paid in your child's name and they may also be paid for castings they attend. Sometimes (depending on the job) you get a small fee as a chaperone, and travel expenses, including petrol money, is paid to you.
Be prepared and organised
There's always a fair bit of waiting around on a shoot while other children are styled and photographs taken. 'Bring crayons, toys or games on your iPhone,' suggests Zjeenja, mum to Noah, four and Boaz, one.
'The phone could go at any time, so have voicemail at home as well as on your mobile and pick up emails regularly,' says Alysia Lewis, director of Urban Angels. It's useful to have a printer and scanner at home as you'll need to get work permits – all child models must be licensed by their local council from when they are six months to 16 years old.
Mum Bruni says it helps to be prepared for castings. 'I try to work out what clients want and dress the children accordingly; if it's a label I dress them smartly or if it's a fun kid's brand I put them in bright clothes.' Keep track of jobs and ask when the magazine or catalogue is out in the shops. Often you'll be shooting for Christmas in July and for summer shoots in darkest winter.
An understanding school helps
As well as getting work permits from your local council, those at school also have to get written permission from the school. Most schools are fi ne with this (and usually proud of the children) as long as it doesn't start to interfere too much with schoolwork. It's worth noting that the licenses take at least 21 days to process so ask the school's permission as soon as possible. The industry is understanding of this too – many castings happen after school or in holidays.
Sometimes children simply don't want to do what the photographer wants. Luckily, for really important shots such as magazine front covers or big campaigns, more than one child is booked so it takes the pressure off your little one having to be 100 per cent perfect on the day. The same can happen at castings – all kids have 'off ' moments.
'Rejection doesn't mean your child is not photogenic, and if you take things personally then child modeling is not the industry you should be in; even top models get rejected for some jobs,' says Sue from Kids London. 'Sometimes you can be on a three-day shoot and loads of pictures are taken, but when the catalogue appears your child isn't in it,' explains Alison. 'It can be hard to deal with, but we understand now, it's just about getting the best shot that fi ts the client's brief.'
Words by Nifa Mclaughlin.
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