It seems like just about every parent thinks their child is cute enough to be a kid model. Getting into the modeling industry can be a lengthy and time consuming process, as much work for the parent as it is the child.
Assessing Kids Modeling Ability
Parents love to hear how adorable their child is. Perhaps you have even been approached by people who suggest modeling as a way to showcase his/her looks. No matter how cute your child is, you should know that it takes more than just a cute face to break into the modeling field.
The most important part of modeling is your child's personality. Is she/he shy? Outgoing? Reserved? Kids who go into modeling need to be able to interact with strangers (under parental supervision), be friendly, and have patience for potentially long photo shoots. Being able to take criticism well and handle rejection are other necessary child behavior traits, especially for older kids.
Models also need to be photogenic. Assess your child's ability by dressing him/her in plain clothing and snapping a few photos. Can he/she hold a pose for a few seconds? Ask older children how they felt about the amateur photo session. If your kid did not have fun with the activity, then modeling is not for him/her.
Young children, such as toddler and preschool ages, need to be able to follow directions especially well and have the ability to interact with adults. Kids need to be able to handle themselves maturely.
Breaking Into Child Modeling Business
After assessing your child's ability to be a kid model, you need to find a way to break into the child modeling business.
A lot of scam artists, agencies, and schools are out there, waiting to prey on unsuspecting parents and children. To avoid being scammed, keep the following in mind:
- Reputable agencies and managers do not ask for money up front. Instead, they take a commission off work your child receives.
- Professional, expensive photographs are usually not needed for kids under age 4, as their looks can change quickly. Instead, simple head and body snapshots are usually sufficient. Pro shots should be taken at a studio, not at the agency, and money should be paid to the photographer directly.
- Most modeling schools are out to make money from fees, and do not guarantee any work.
- Legitimate agencies/managers will give you time to review a contract before signing it.
If you are approached on the street by a photographer, manager or agent, check his/her reputation with the Better Business Bureau. Also ask to see a portfolio of work their clients have done and get into contact with prior clients. Sometimes a simple Google search will weed out unlegitimate offers.
Breaking into Modeling
To get your child started in modeling, you want to have up-to-date photos. One or two headshots (smiling and serious) and a full length body shot are often enough. Keep clothing and hair simple and unadorned. Send out photos and your child's statistics (height, age, clothing size) to agencies in your area. Interested agents will then call you if they want to represent your child or have work for him/her.
Other ways for kid models to get work include:
- Entering modeling photo contests, such as ones sponsored by large companies like GAP.
- Competing in beauty contests, locally and nationally.
- Work in local advertising.
- Enter fashion shows put on by malls or children's clothing companies.
Visiting open casting calls held by reputable agencies is another way to find kid modeling work. But, watch out for casting calls that seem to accept everyone, then require professional photos you pay the agency for, and enrollment in a modeling school, also paid to the agency. These casting calls are usually scams.
Parental Concerns about Kid Models
The modeling business can be a harsh world for young children. If your kid asks to quit or seems to be upset about attending modeling appointments, it may be time to stop modeling. After all, most children do not get rich modeling-it is the excitement of the job and seeing their face in print that means the most to them.
Parents have to invest a lot of their own free time and even some money for a child's modeling career. Appointments (called "look sees") are often given with little to no notice. Traveling expenses, like gas and parking, are not reimbursed. Payment is often small, after commission to agents/managers has been taken off the top. Local companies or even some larger businesses may pay in gift certificates instead of cash.
Before you can book a successful child modeling appointment for your kid, you need to be aware of child entertainment labor laws in your state. It may be necessary for you to obtain a work permit allowing your child to do the work. Letters of permission from doctors and schools might also be necessary. Call your state's labor office or ask your agent about getting the necessary documentation.