Every child is beautiful, but yours enjoys more than her share of attention, often stopping traffic when she’s out in public. Admit it: you’ve thought about getting her into modeling, but one too many episodes of Toddlers and Tiaras may have short-circuited the initial urge. But if you go into this with your eyes (and pocketbooks) wide open, your child can join the legions of others who not only succeeded in the industry but often underwrite college expenses thanks to lucrative modeling fees.
Hold a family powwow to put everything on the table. Get buy in from those in position to help launch your child’s modeling career – siblings, grands, aunts, husbands, etc. Don’t be shy. You’ll need all hands on deck to coordinate her career and keep it going. Importantly, don’t ignore siblings. Brothers and sisters who feel part of the fledgling model’s support system are less likely to act out and cry “favoritism” when one kid becomes the center of attention. Make sure you are willing to earmark enough time in your personal schedule to chauffeur your child to casting calls and shoot sites, some of which can come your way on short notice. This is not an ideal gig for a working mother, unless she happens to own her business.
Keep your camera in the closet! You read that right. This is no time for amateur photographers to snap away, no matter how good your skills may be. Invest in a studio session with a professional well versed in the types of images that grab attention on modeling composites, the child model’s passport to jobs. Allow the photographer to control the shoot; no stage parenting, please. If must jump in, be helpful. Download other children’s model composites from the Internet. Give them to your photographer for reference. And for goodness sake, don’t spend a fortune on clothing for the composite shoot. Select a mix of classic casual and dressy outfits. If your child’s wardrobe is short on variety, raid the closets of friends and relative’s kids. Avoid fashion trends. Styles evolve so fast, your pricey photos could become obsolete in a heartbeat.
Use a graphic designer to create your child’s modeling composite. Some photographers offer this service and it can save you time and money – just as long as the designer is familiar with the process of photo compositing, text and layout formats that work best on what’s essentially a “sell sheet” to introduce your child to potential clients and agents. The composite – sometimes called a model card — mixes photos with vital statistics like height, weight and sizes. You can inventivize your photographer and graphic designer by offering a “photo credit” on the layout to promote themselves — as long as this “call out” doesn’t detract from the page design. Here’s something else to consider: Don’t use your child’s last name on her composite to protect her identity and keep her safe. Many child models use only a first or first and middle name on their model cards.
Create an updatable portfolio/model book. Your little one outgrows her clothing, shoes and toys fast, so why would you permanently affix photos to the pages of a modeling book? Don’t make that mistake. Portfolios are essentially photo albums that show your child’s diversity in front of the camera, which is why your photographer took a wide variety of portrait and full-body images. An array of current photos, nicely displayed within the pages of a model book, shows your child in various poses and outfits that showcase her personality. They help clients decide whether she’s got what it takes to represent their brand. It’s important to continually update a model book. As she gets print jobs, you can place copies of her work into the portfolio to show off her credits. No need to invest a fortune in a portfolio, by the way. A plain black presentation book, available from office supply stores and filled with acetate sleeves that can be updated on the fly, will do the trick.
Settle the management issue. Kris Kardashian is famous for launching her daughter’s careers, but you may not have what it takes to emulate her. Being assertive is required for “momagers,” which is why parents turn to modeling agencies so often. Book interview appointments with several agencies and wear your best walking shoes when you bring your child in for interviews! If an agency tries to sell you a modeling school package, offers to put your child under contract in return for cash or otherwise wants you to open your wallet, grab your child and run for the door. Legitimate agents represent children by drawing up contracts that stipulate the percentage of the agency’s standard cut. When a modeling job is over, the agency is paid directly by the client, deducts their percentage and then pays the child model. It bears repeating: Legit modeling agencies don’t charge up front to represent kids.