I'm a stay-at-home mom and the proud parent of a child model. Getting your child into modeling isn't as challenging as people think!
Getting your child into modeling is as easy as mailing, or emailing, some snapshots to a modeling agent who represents children. Sounds simple, right? It is, or rather it can be.
There is a misconception that parents have to spend tons of money on professional photographs, modeling classes, and fancy outfits to get their child into modeling, or wait for them to somehow get "discovered." That is simply not true. Read on and you'll learn how to get your child on the road to modeling, a little bit about what the child modeling industry is like, and if modeling is a good fit for you and your child. Please remember that the guidelines I'm giving you are general guidelines based on my own experience. There are exceptions to every rule.
How Can I Get My Child Into Modeling?
Here are the steps and questions I considered when we approached child modeling. These four questions/steps proved to be simple, cheap, and better yet, fun!
- Is Your Child the Right Personality for Modeling?
- How to Find an Agency
- How to Take Photos for Child Modeling
- Is Modeling Right for You as a Parent?
1. Is Modeling Right for Your Child?
The first thing it's important to acknowledge is that modeling isn't a great fit for every baby, child, or teen. It's probably obvious that friendly, outgoing children are best suited to modeling, but there's more to it than that! There are different ways to handle modeling at each stage, so first things first . . .
What Is the Best Age to Begin Modeling?
Any age is a great age to begin modeling! Models of all ages, shapes, and sizes are needed to sell products or illustrate ideas. Therefore, any time is a great time to get started.
Babies, Toddlers, and Modeling
Babies should be generally easygoing and not afraid of going to people they're unfamiliar with. Toddlers are, of course, unpredictable and can sometimes be hard to manage, but at least need to be able to cooperate and follow directions.
Children and Modeling
Child models need to be obedient and cooperative. A child model may be asked to do all kinds of uncomfortable things, like stand on a cold beach in a swimsuit, wear shoes that are way too small, or have their hairstyle changed three times in one hour. If your child hates to have his hair combed, styled, and sprayed, or hates to repeatedly change outfits, modeling may not be right for him. If your child feels uncomfortable around adults he doesn't know, modeling may not be right for him. While clients and agents alike understand that kids will be kids, they prefer easygoing, well-mannered children who follow directions well, catch on quickly, and don't complain.
Teens and Modeling
Older children will be expected to project a certain degree of professionalism. This is because when modeling as a teen you are beholden to many of the standards that adults are held to. This means having a healthy, realistic perspective; if you're trying to model, you may be held to seemingly unfair height, weight, and measurements.
The number one thing to remember when you're a teen attempting to model is that your body is perfect just the way it is; changing slowly, changing quickly, or not changing at all. Modeling is not worth straining over body image and changing your diet and exercise routine drastically. That being said, the advice above stands: Individuals that are easy to work with and can follow instructions will do best in the modeling industry.
Read More From Toughnickel
What the Job Is Like for a Child Model
The video above is not my child, but I wanted to include it to show you what a modeling shoot can be like. As you see, it can be slow at times, with quite a bit of standing around and waiting. The little girl in the video is ideal for modeling because she does not seem to mind having her hair styled and her face made up. She waits patiently for the staff to style her and pose her, and listens and takes direction well even though she appears to be quite young. Modeling seems very glamorous, and often the finished product is, but the day-to-day reality of it can mean lots of auditions that lead nowhere, and long, boring days for the kids when they book a job.
Most photographers, stylists, and "child wranglers" are accustomed to working with kids and try to make photoshoots as fun as possible. However, there is no guarantee that this will be the case every time. Also, while some jobs may be a fairly quick in-and-out, others may last many hours and require multiple hairstyles and clothing changes.
Is Modeling Right for Your Child? In Summary
Your child or teen also needs to be resilient. This is a tough field. No one is ever offered all the jobs they audition for. Of course, a baby or toddler will not have a clue that they weren't selected for a job, but an older child will figure it out quickly. If a go-see does not materialize into a job, your child needs to be able to put it behind her and move ahead to the next one.
Are You A Child or Teen Interested In Modeling?
Talk with your parent or guardian about becoming a legitimate, professional model. Be warned that many illegitimate sites exist online meant to potentially lure children and teens into unsafe situations. Be especially wary if you are stopped by someone at the mall or on the street. Your best bet is working with your guardian or a trusted adult to establish a portfolio and connect with an agency. Safety is your first priority.
It can also be helpful to read first-hand accounts of people who have modeled before. This can help you decide if it's a good career choice for you!
2. How to Find a Modeling Agency
Finding a modeling agency that is reputable, fair, and foremost, not a scam can be a daunting task. Fortunately, I've broken down exactly what needs to happen for you to find an agency (not a management firm) that you can trust.
Make a List of All the Agencies in Your Area
Start by looking in the yellow pages or doing a Google search for some modeling agencies in your area. Unlike the world of adult supermodels, child models don't usually fly all over the world, jetting from job to job. For the most part, a child model's jobs are in the metropolitan area where he or she lives. This brings me to another point: In some parts of the country, there may be zero modeling agencies and zero modeling jobs. If you live in a large metropolitan area, your chances of finding an agency with plenty of clients, naturally, are better. So consider where you live and don't get your hopes up too high if you live in a remote area. I certainly don't want to squash anyone's dreams, I am simply trying to paint a realistic picture.
Tips for Researching Modeling Agencies
Once you've compiled a list of agency names, do a little research to make sure they are trustworthy, legitimate agencies, and to make sure they accept children.
- Agency Limits: Some agencies accept only older children and not babies, some accept only adults.
- Agency Feedback: One great place to get feedback on agencies is the Backstage Child and Teen Models message board. Join the board and use the search button to start digging. You can also start a new thread and ask experienced members what they know about any specific agency.
- Google Agency "Scams": A quick Google search of the agency's name with the word "scam" can be a big eye-opener also. If an agency is SAG-franchised (Screen Actors Guild), then they are most likely legit.
The Dos and Don'ts of Getting Your Child Into Modeling
There are lots of scammers out there who prey on parents' lack of knowledge of the modeling industry, and there are modeling schools that will lead you to believe that they will help your child find modeling jobs. If you want your child to get modeling jobs, get them an agent, plain and simple.
- Someone who runs, owns, or works for a modeling school is not an agent, although they may let you believe that they are.
- Your child does not need to take any kind of modeling classes whatsoever. They are a useless waste of money.
- A legitimate modeling agency will never charge their models money, only pay their models money for work they do.
Find a reputable modeling agency.
Pay people who work for a modeling school because they say they can help your child.
Work with agencies that pay models and do not charge them.
Sign up for modeling classes.
Take your time taking careful headshots at home to save money.
Pay money for headshots right away, especially for babies.