I would even shoot a roll of black and white. Black and white film will give your personal pictures a more professional quality. A great film you can use for this is either “Kodak” black & white with a C-41 process, or “Ilford” which is a C-41 process as well. *(The C-41 process black and white films you can take to Eckerd’s and have prints in an hour, plus they have a nice sepia quality when you get them processed. You can have your rolls done anywhere, it doesn’t have to be professional photo finishing.)
When you get the couple of rolls back that you’ve just shot, pick up to 6 pictures to put in your online portfolio. Remember, you’re only as good as your worst picture, so less is actually more. Pick the best 6, not more.
If you choose to have professional shots done, there are a few ways you can do this:
1) If you know a friend that is a photographer.
2) Find one by searching on NewFaces.com under Photographers. Be sure to search for ones in your area.
3) You can call any agency and ask what photographer they would recommend and which ones are best to shoot kids. Be sure to ask the going price per roll shot.
Note: A professional testing photographer should cost about $50.00 a roll for kids. Any more than that and I would be very surprised. Don’t shoot more than 2 rolls (unless an agent is very interested and asks for 3 rolls).
Here are the don’ts:
1) Don’t take your child to glamour-shots. The pictures tend to keep kids from looking like kids, plus the soft filters and glitzy jewelry just don’t bode well with agents.
2) Don’t take your child to a professional portrait studio (with the proverbial painted scenery in the background). These just aren’t the kind of shots agents are looking for, plus they’re expensive! Agents are looking for your child to simply be themselves in a real environment. That’s why I suggest you doing the 2 rolls yourself (1 color and 1 black & white). Your child is most comfortable with you!
Here are some guidelines I would suggest if you’re going to try and do it yourself:
For boy’s, don’t have their hair perfect. In fact, style it more with your hands than with a comb or brush. For girls, obviously it should be more groomed, but still not overdone. Remember that you want them to simply be themselves.
Keep the clothes simple. Don’t do the whole “Sunday dress with patten leather shoes” thing. Again, you want your child to be comfortable.
Keep the background clean. Just make sure it isn’t busy, especially when shooting color film. You want to keep the emphasis on your child’s face and let the background fall away. This doesn’t mean shooting against a wall. I’m talking about having whatever in the background as far away as possible so it almost becomes blurry.
Shoot about 4 different variations per roll of film. That means you’re going to snap around 6 shots of the same set up before changing anything. This will enable your child to smile, not smile, look at the camera, look profile, etc. There’s nothing worse than liking a picture, only to find that Junior had his eyes closed!
Watch your framing. Be aware of the top and bottom of the composition your taking. In other words, you don’t want to crop from Junior’s waist and have from the top of his head to the ceiling the main focus.
Don’t use flash. If your camera has a “turn the flash off” button, press it. Shoot near adequate light. Near a window or outside, but still in the shade. Be careful when shooting outside and in the shade, because the camera will read the brightness of the background, and you’ll end up with a silhouette of your child. Direct sun will give harsh shadows on your child’s face, so the best time to shoot is late in the afternoon. In the business, we call this time “magic hour.”