NO, NO, NO, NO NO!
You don’t need a portfolio – in fact you don’t even need a professional photographer.
I know, people stop you all the time and tell you that your infant or toddler is just “so adorable” that they should be the next Gerber Baby!
First and foremost – remember this is a business and you are reading this because you are considering sending your young son or daughter to WORK.
There are some important things that you need to understand about baby modeling and child modeling:
Infants and toddlers are very unpredictable and of course don’t take direction very well, so generally advertisers will hire several children for the same part, often paying them as little as fifty to one hundred dollars to do the job. The advertiser will shoot the job with each of the children. Whichever child does the best – those images will be used and that child will receive pay based upon standard market rates.
In smaller markets, i.e. – ANY place outside of New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, the best agencies will generally not deal with infants and toddlers simply because there is little work for them. As a result – more often than not – the child that appears in an ad or commercial is related to the client, one of the talent or production people involved in the shoot.
So how do you get your child into the business?
Infants, toddlers, and young children change in appearance much too quickly and the legitimate agencies understand that. Under the age of 4 – these agencies will only require a few snapshots of your child.
Take a close-up shot of your child. (Head and shoulders – Don’t get so close that the image is blurry)
Take a full length shot of your child
Take one character shot of your child – something that shows the child’s personality – feel free to use props with this shot.
Find a place that is bright and evenly lit – DON’T use a flash
Don’t send 50 photos to the agencies – just 2 or 3.
If an agency accepts your child – be prepared to update these images every 6 months or so.
Children aged 4 through age 13 will generally only need headshots. These images should be professionally done. Even at these ages, you will need to update these images every year to a year and a half at the most since children will change dramatically from year-to-year.
A composite is only helpful if a child has very different and distinctive looks and should not be considered until an agency has proven themselves to you by getting your child work.
Mail these photos – along with a short (3 -5 sentence) letter of introduction to the agencies in your area. Do NOT call them and try to tell them how adorable your child is and do NOT email them.
The moral to the story:
Every good parent is willing to do “whatever it takes” and spend “whatever it costs: Just remember – this is your child, in the case of infants and toddlers – THEY are not making the decision to work – YOU are putting them to work.
This business is filled with adults – your children must be good with adults if they are going to succeed.
Those kids that you see on TV commercials. . . they are not just cute kids – most of them have already had some training.
Be realistic about your ability to follow through. If you live in North Carolina and submit photos of your child to an agency in New York – they expect you to be available to work in New York. They are not going to pay to fly you there, they will call you on a Thursday and expect you there on Friday, the business does not revolve around you and your child.
Last but not least. . . a lesson that you will be teaching your child when they reach their teens – NEVER kiss on the first date! Any agency that holds out its hand and asks you for money on the first visit – is NOT interested in getting your child work – they are interested in your MONEY!
So the next time someone is waiting in line behind you at the grocery store and tells you how incredibly adorable your child is… remember that is what they are supposed to say!
Recommended Reading about Modeling Portfolios
- What makes a great modeling portfolio?
- What does McDonald’s have to do with your modeling portfolio?
- Do I really need a portfolio? What kinds of pictures should be in it?
- Where can I buy a modeling portfolio?
- Is a modeling portfolio required for baby modeling?