Nothing sells stuff like a cute baby. And every one of those cherubic faces in catalogs, magazine ads or TV commercials or was hired… usually through a baby modeling agency. We 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 ‘Ayesha Kapoor’
Before you start sending out the headshots, here are some things to keep in mind about baby modeling:
Baby Models: “Animated Props!”
Baby models are known as “animated props” in the industry since they don’t really model… they just sit there and look cute. Casting directors look for babies with even dispositions and long attention spans. Even better are babies who imitate facial expressions and gestures. This makes it easy for the “baby wrangler” to capture an expression.
It All Starts with a Snapshot
Most agencies want home snapshots to review your baby for modelling work. Baby’s change so fast that it doesn’t make sense to pay hundreds for headshots. Casting directors may even be suspicious of baby headshots! Don’t work with anyone who wants to charge you up-front for headshots. All legitimate agencies are free.
Manage Your Expectations
Baby models typically earn $100 – $300( INR 5000 to 15,000) a day… and there are lots of unpaid hours for every hour in front of the camera. Television commercials can be more lucrative, but there are fewer of them and the big payouts only come for ads that play for years.
A Kid is a Kid
Even “ordinary” kids can get baby modeling work. Catalogs and magazines often want a “kid next door” look. And even supermodel-beautiful baby models are still just kids. Make sure you let them be a kid and have fun and learn while they’re modeling.
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 children and the modeling business:
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 3000- 5000 for a 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 Mumbai or India, 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 6- 8.
· 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 commercialsâ€¦ 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 New Delhi or other cities and submit photos of your child to an agency in Mumbai – they expect you to be available to work in Mumbai. 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.
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!