Mother Knows Best: Tips From The Parent Of A Child Model

Having a child in the modeling industry can be both an exciting and, at times, a chaotic experience. And Lisa Pimber — whose son, Kaeden, was not only the first boy to have his face on every bottle of Downey on the shelves of Target, but was also featured in the Summer 2012 issue of Scottsdale Living magazine — has experienced it all, and shares a few tips on what it takes to be the parent of a child model.

child model parent tipsThe life of a parent with children in the entertainment industry can be both exciting and overwhelming. As for me, my son Kaeden was signed by a modeling agency at age three, and after just two months, he landed his first gig as the first boy to be pictured on the bottle of Downey.

Living in California at the time (about two years ago), we drove to auditions in Los Angeles, which is where the Downey audition was held. Kaeden wore, as requested, a light blue shirt and blue shorts, as did the 15 other boys who were selected to audition. Just a week later, we received the call that him and his dad would be flying to San Francisco for the photo shoot. We got the job!

child model, parent tipsAfter this photo shoot, Kaeden auditioned a minimum of once per week, with gigs ranging from commercials to retail stores. My husband became a full-time dad, taking Kaeden to all of his auditions and booked gigs. Take note: Because you aren’t notified of most auditions until the night before, one parent always needed to be ready and available on the drop of a dime. That was my husband, but he always enjoyed spending time with Kaeden. And, in between jobs and auditions, my husband would work with Kaeden on the alphabet, reading and vocabulary, and most importantly, manners.

child model, parent tipsKaeden’s baby sister, Hailey, came along and joined into the fun. Her first audition was when she was 11 months old for a Johnson & Johnson’s commercial. She did an amazing job, but because I refused to have her hair cut, as she only had a little to begin with, she didn’t get it. It’s my belief that if you don’t feel comfortable, you can say “no”; there are always other jobs. And, a few months later, Hailey booked Carter’s, a children’s clothing store.

Both children enjoy what they’re doing, modeling. Kaeden, now seven years old, has been in two commercials, on three Mattel toys, in one independent film, on two product labels, and on several in-store ads and Internet ads for retail stores and businesses. Hailey has been on a few clothing labels and several Internet promotions. We moved from California to Arizona about two years ago, and since then, it has been very difficult to attend all auditions due to the cost and time it takes to drive to L.A. with little to no notice.

My advice to anyone wanting to enter the talent/entertainment industry (especially child models) is to do your research first. I’ve also provided some tips below:

If an agency says they will take you, but you have to pay money upfront, do not sign. We have never had to pay a cent for our agent in California.
However, you will need to pay for your own photo sheets, composite cards and zed cards, which are basically a compilation of a few photos to take to and leave at an audition ― much like a business card or headshot. These photos are extremely important, and you should always be prepared to pay between $150-$300 a session for three to five looks. Keep in mind that you must update your comp. cards every six months; babies need to update them more often as they grow and change quickly.
Be willing to travel on a day’s notice for an audition that can take as little as three to four minutes. There have been times when we would leave Phoenix at 5 a.m. and get home at midnight for Kaeden to be at school at 8 a.m. that morning.
You cannot pick and choose the auditions. You must commit 110 percent to each and every audition or your agent may not submit you for work.
Know the children labor laws as there are several laws for working on set. For instance, if you work in California, you will need to apply for a Coogan account for your child. This means that some of his/her earning will be deposited and blocked until they reach the age of 18. This must be renewed every six months. You can find this information on the California Department of Public Relations’ Web page.
We believe education is our children’s No. 1 priority, so be sure you speak with your child’s school to arrange how they can get their assignments turned in when they can’t make it to class. When our Kaeden is absent from school, which is often, we always get homework from the teachers for him to complete so he doesn’t fall behind. And with a teacher always present on set to help the kids with their homework, Kaeden has even received Honor Roll Student of the Year at his school for all four quarters, which has made us so proud! With Hailey in preschool, her dad makes sure she knows her numbers and alphabet; this year, he plans to have her reading before she starts kindergarten.
If your child makes more than $400 a year, they must file taxes. It’s best to keep all receipts and expenses documented, just in case they need to file taxes. Kaeden has filed taxes since he was three years old, and both kids are saving their hard-earned money for school. Kaeden even has his first year of college paid for from his paychecks.
While the industry seems like a lot of fun, there’s a lot of work involved for the child ― and even more so for the parents. People always ask us, “Why do you do it? Why do you spend money to travel to auditions?” It’s all about supporting my children in whatever they want to do, whether that is to be become movie stars or models. Education will always be their No. 1 priority, but we plan on giving our children every opportunity they deserve. We will be right there to support them with whatever they decide to do outside of school, and if one day they decide they don’t want to model anymore, than we will stop and move to something else they would like to learn.

Good luck, and one last tip? Never take it to heart. If you don’t get a job, there will always be another audition and another gig. Just have fun, and enjoy yourself.

Child modeling

It is a common observation that plenty of clothing is designed for teens or children rather than adults. As a result of this, it doesn’t make sense for an adult to model them. It is only modeling agencies that can solve this problem with the help of child models. Child modeling may, therefore, be understood as modeling done by individuals under the age of 18. These include toddlers, babies, elementary students, and preschoolers.

Venues

Child models usually appear in TV shows, advertisements, magazines, newsletters and store advertisements. Additionally, they can appear in some traditional fashion shows and the pageants.

Physical/Personality Requirements

For young kids, modeling agents require models that understand the job and fit to do the job on their own. In common practice, models who are average in weight are best suited and more importantly, very outgoing for camera shots. Also, these models must at least be 5’6″ with average waist size of 23 inches.

Agents

Establishing a child modeling business does not require a modeling agent, but with an agent, one is guaranteed of plenty modeling jobs and better exposure. A modeling agent offers special tips on the competitions and companies that are required. Unfortunately, these agents must be paid for their services. These payments are regarded as fees and depend solely on the experience of the agent, location, percentages of the charges and total time spent during the child modeling.

Legal Considerations

Children are not regarded as adults; therefore, they are subject the child labor laws. This means that the child is not subjected to excessive time per day by the child models. Additionally, the child modeling environment is expected to be very safe and conducive so that the child is not exposed to bad morals because the age is not appropriate.

Compensation

Compensation for child modeling varies and depends on the company rights sold in the form of photographs and the length of job. Regardless of the pay, child models are normally minors; therefore, the modeling agencies must validate the payment terms with the parents or any legal guardian who shall handle the money for compensation. This is necessary in order to satisfy all parties involved in child modeling.

In some cases, compensation may be awarded in other forms such as child education funding, future jobs, merchandise or clothing. Other agencies do this in order to promote themselves or their products while some do it so as to discourage the parents or guardians from using their children for monetary gain in the long run. Therefore, before child modeling is initiated, it imperative that all parties agree to the compensation terms so as to avoid legal battles in the future. Legal battles involving minors is often a setback to any child modeling firm.

Commitment

Child modeling is indeed a good job that does not solely relies on long term commitments from the parents. In some cases, agencies involved in a child modeling offer contracts to parents for certain jobs for a given period of time. Parents are advised to ensure that their children are able to handle child modeling requirements before entering into contractual commitments in the long run.

Modeling: Is it right for your baby or child?

Everyone tells you your dimpled darling should be a model, but does your child have what it takes? Do you?

We asked two of the top agents in the business and the mother of a child model to share their insights and their best tips for breaking into child modeling. Find out what modeling is really like for kids and parents and how to start a career.

Does your child have what it takes to be a model?

It takes a lot more than a pretty face to make a good model. Temperament and personality are just as key to a child’s success.

“No one will book a kid if they’re not nice,” says Patti Fleischer, owner of Generation Model Management in New York. “Being sweet is important. But most important, a child should be well behaved and able to take direction.”

Carey Olsen, of Ford Models in San Francisco, agrees. “Temperament is very important. A child must be comfortable speaking with strangers and taking direction from them. She should also be able to handle large crowds of kids and stay focused on the audition.”

Most successful child models are also small for their age. That way they can play the part of a younger child but have the maturity level of an older one.

Before you pursue modeling for your child, ask yourself whether he’s comfortable around a lot of other children and adults. Is he generally outgoing? Can he pay attention for long periods of time? If the answer is yes, then your child might have the right personality for modeling.

Laura, a BabyCenter mom whose 28-month-old daughter has been in modeling for a year, says her little girl’s temperament has helped her be successful. “My daughter is very outgoing. She smiles and laughs all the time. Personality definitely comes through on camera. If you have a shy child, there’s no point in forcing her into modeling. She won’t have a good time, she probably won’t get picked for jobs, and it will make you miserable. ”

Also consider whether you and your child can handle disappointment. Olsen cautions, “You can expect to go on many go-sees before you get a job. Just like in the adult world, you hear many no’s before you hear one yes.”

Even moms whose child has been modeling for a while can be bothered by such rejections. “My daughter once had a job and got paid, but they ended up using another girl in the catalog,” says Laura. “I was devastated. It hurt so much that they thought someone else was ‘better’ than my daughter.”

Another key question to ask yourself: Does your child want to be a model, or do you want your child to be a model? Most babies will let you know whether they’re comfortable around strangers and enjoy the attention, but it can be harder to tell with an older child. Some kids say they’re interested in modeling just to please their parents.

Without the drive to succeed, most children won’t do well in the industry. “It has to be something a kid wants to do and something that’s fun,” says Fleischer.

 

Do you have what it takes to be the parent of a model?

The bulk of the work behind a child’s modeling career is done by the parent. Be prepared for plenty of driving and waiting. Parents with a lot of free time do the best.

“It’s definitely much more stressful for me than for my daughter,” Laura says. “You’re usually given about a day’s notice for the go-see, sometimes just a few hours. You show up, fill out a form, and wait your turn. Your child is called in, they take pictures and interact, and then you go home. If they want to book you, they call your agency.”

The amount of time spent driving to various jobs also depends on where you live. The major markets for modeling are New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, but both Fleischer and Olsen caution against relocating for your child’s career.

“A family shouldn’t relocate for representation,” says Olsen. “New York, L.A., and Miami have more opportunities than a small town in Georgia, but an agent can’t guarantee anyone work.” Since kids typically work just a few times a year and make only a few hundred dollars for some jobs, an expensive move isn’t worthwhile.

For most child models, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. They make, according to Fleischer, “a fraction of a fraction” of the amount adults make.

“Children make anywhere from $82.50 an hour to $1,200 a day and up,” says Olsen. “Each job has a different budget and different rates. It would be wonderful to say that all children will make enough money to help them with a college fund, but we can’t predict the future.”

Laura describes the typical payment for a job as follows: “My daughter gets paid between $50 and $200 per hour, usually around $100 per hour. She’s booked for minimum times. So if she’s booked for two hours but the shoot only lasts 45 minutes, she still gets paid for two hours. The agency takes 20 percent, which is standard, and then writes her a check for the rest.”

How will your child benefit from modeling?

Modeling can be hard work, but it can also be a wonderful experience for your child and a great opportunity for the two of you to spend time together. It can also introduce him to a wealth of new experiences.

Another big benefit: It can develop your child’s social skills and self-esteem. “It’s wonderful for an agent to see a child grow into a vibrantly confident kid,” says Olsen. “They get to socialize with kids outside their normal social circle. It also helps them learn to speak to adults and take direction well. Children can expect to gain confidence, interview skills, and wonderful memories.”

Laura is “absolutely happy” that her daughter is modeling. “I don’t think I would ever make this a full-time gig for her,” she says, “but she’s young and having fun. The second she says she doesn’t like it anymore, we’re out.”

Plus, if your child is successful, there is money to be made. Just don’t expect to get rich.

What steps can you take to get your child into modeling?

Step one: Get photographs of him. Step two: Find an agency. Sound simple? It is, if you know how to go about it and can avoid certain pitfalls. To get you started, here’s advice from people who know the business: 

  • Never pay any money up front to get your child into modeling.

“Make sure no one charges you for anything,” cautions New York agent Fleischer. “Anyone who charges a fee is not legitimate. Companies make money by a percentage of the model’s fee, not by charging a fee to work with the agency.”

  • Good photos don’t have to be expensive.

To be seen by any agent, you’ll need the right pictures of your child. But, says San Francisco agent Olsen, professionals pictures aren’t necessary.

So, what are the “right pictures“? For her toddler, BabyCenter mom Laura emailed a simple snapshot of her daughter to a local agency. “Plain old snapshots, updated every month or so, are sufficient.”

“Unfortunately,” she says, “there are many scam artists in this business, just looking to jump on parents who think their kid is the next Olsen twin. Young children do not need professional head shots. They change too often. ”

Agents are looking for clear pictures that show off the child. The photos should be “very simple,” says Fleischer. “The child should be facing the camera. No hats, no sunglasses. Only the child should be in the picture. She shouldn’t be wearing any makeup.”

You can easily take this kind of picture at home with a digital camera. Make sure the pictures show your child’s features and take a variety of poses, including head shots and full-body shots.

  • Don’t worry about whether your child is exactly what the agency is looking for.

What appeals to agents is variety. “I want everything from redheads with freckles to African Americans with afros,” Fleischer says. Olsen adds, “Each client has their own specific needs, and our job is to make sure we have a variety of kids to meet those needs.”

  • Find a reputable agency

Once you have the pictures, find an agency that’s registered with the Better Business Bureau in your area. Fleischer recommends looking at the websites of companies that you’d like your child to model for to see which agencies they work with.

Some agencies have open calls for children. This can be an easy way to check out an agency in your area. According to Olsen, most agencies will only represent kids that live within a 200-mile radius of their office. You can telephone first to ask about the agency’s policies. Remember, a reputable agency won’t charge a fee for an open call.

You can also try searching online for different agencies, always checking to be sure they’re registered with the Better Business Bureau. Many adult agencies have a kids’ division or may be able to recommend a reputable agency that has one.

Which child model agencies are the best?

Here are a few reputable agencies to try:

 

C.E.S.D. Talent Agency

(212) 477-3838

 

Ford Models

 

FunnyFace Today

381 Park Ave. South, Suite 821

New York, NY 10016

(212) 686-4343

 

Generation Model Management

20 West 20th St., Suite 1008

New York, NY 10011

(212) 727-7219

info@genertionmm.com

 

Wilhelmina Kids & Creative Management

New York, Los Angeles, and Miami

How to apply and where to apply

What’s the best age for kids to get into modeling?

The right time for children to start modeling depends on their personality. A child’s suitability for modeling can also change with age.

If you’re thinking about getting your baby into modeling, remember that sometimes babies who are comfortable with strangers become shyer as toddlers. Fleischer recommends an early start so that “by the time they’re 2 or 3 they’re not fazed.” Call the agency you’re interested in working with ahead of time to find out its age requirements.

For an older child, “the best time for children to get into modeling is when they express interest,” says Olsen. “The kids that do best are the kids who want to model and the parents are along for the ride.”

An early start can also mean a longer career for a young model. Many kids’ modeling careers slow down at age 5 or 6, when they start losing their teeth, and the vast majority of child modeling careers are over by the time a child is 5 feet tall.

What I Have Learned About Child Modeling

When I was little I wanted nothing more than to be a model or actress. I made my mom take me to those open auditions you hear on the radio where they try to sell you portfolio picture packages or acting classes. My mom wasn’t into paying for that stuff, so I felt like I never truly could be “discovered.” HA! I am so glad my mom never paid for those things now knowing what I do about this industry. When Baby A was born I decided to look into modeling because as most parents think, “my girls are so beautiful!“ Not only that, but Baby A really has a special demeanor about her. She is one of the happiest babies I have ever met. That, paired with her adorable features, I thought she would be a good match and actually enjoy modeling. Not to mention college prices are only rising, so it would help put some extra cushion in her savings account.

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Waiting on set gets boring. Time to eat the tag off this new outfit they put me in.

I recently posted a picture on social media of Baby A on set of her latest role — playing a Baby (duh) for a commercial. She has also done a handful of print ads for various local Twin Cities companies. I had quiet a few Facebook friends come out of the woodwork asking how I got her set up doing it, so I thought I would write a post on what we have learned so far. We are by no means experts, but thought I’d share our experiences over the past six months of doing this.

1. Submitting to agencies — don’t pay for fancy pictures! Every agency I submitted the girls into simply asked for any type of picture (non-professional is fine) at least 4×6, but not exceeding 8×10, in size. Usually if you go to the agency’s website it will have information on what they want you to send to be considered. Babies change rapidly, so make sure they are very recent pictures. I sent in three 4x6s of each girl to four Twin Cities agencies. A headshot, full body shot, and candid shot. Include all information on the back of the pictures (parent name, their name and stats, contact information) and mail them out. Some agencies will take emails (only one did in my case) — most said mail submissions only. We stuck only to submit with local agencies since we are not willing to travel for castings. Just Google “modeling agency, Minneapolis” or wherever and lots should pop up.

2. They will contact you. Trust me, if they are interested in your child they will. And in most cases, if you are contacted by multiple agencies you can work with ALL the agencies (unless you have to sign a non-compete, which is not normal unless you are highly regarded). So now — assuming they contact you back, what does a relationship with an agency look like?

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Making new Baby and Mommy friends while waiting between shoots.

3. The agency will contact you about castings that your child fits the bill for. Then if you are available to take your child to the casting, you will schedule it through the agency. Go to the casting with your child. Generally, it is 15 minute (or less) process. They want to see the child’s demeanor and also the parent that accompanies them. Don’t be that overbearing stage parent. Let the professionals do their job and step back. If they need you to step in, they will ask. Then off you go. They will contact your agency if they deem your child is a good fit. Sometimes you get paid for “go-sees”/castings/auditions (if the client specifically asks for your child), but most of the time you do not.

4. Congratulations! Your child is cast! Now what? You will be given a time to arrive on set and they will generally do the rest (outfit, hair, makeup). Be sure to bring baby lotion, bottles, diapers, a blanket, and a toy to occupy your kid in case you have to wait. Usually they have a craft table with food if your child is eating solids. Most clients pay by the hour, but some will do fixed rate (I have seen this for video shoots). If you only work a few minutes, most pay for the full hour which is nice. Generally the rate includes the image/video rights forever or for “X years” and this is laid out in the contract that the agency would have sent you (ask your agency if you don’t see this). Again, let the professionals do their thing and be there in case of questions and if they need your intervention if the child is getting upset.

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I don’t usually take pictures on set as I don’t want to appear to be “that mom,” but was able to sneak a few at our last commercial while the crew was busy working.

5. Print vs Video. We have found print to be quick and easy. Baby A goes to a quick 10 minute casting and on the shoot date she is on set for less then an hour. Video productions are another story. Baby A went to a casting for about 15 minutes and then got a call back the following week for another 15 minute casting — neither of these were paid. She ended up being picked and was given a flat rate if her video footage wasn’t used (say she got fussy and they couldn’t use her and used the other Baby) and another flat rate if they did use her footage for the commercial. You don’t know what rate you will get until after production when they decide which Baby footage to put in the commercial (in our case they were shooting with her and only one other baby). This is typical with babies, to have a “back-up.

Next, they had her go to a fitting a week later which took about an hour. Finally, the shoot date. We had to arrive for a 7:50 a.m. call time and were given no idea of how long we would be “on set” (I asked). Luckily, they shot the Baby scene first, so we were out of there by 10:30 a.m. During that time only about 20 minutes was spent actually shooting. The rest was waiting a lot in a small trailer with many other actors, doing make-up, and getting her dressed. Then more waiting. Lots of waiting, but it was a fun experience and everyone was nice (professional and busy, but nice and accommodating).

6. Getting paid. Depending on the terms the agency has with the client, you will get paid once the agency is paid (usually 30-45 days out). The agency will take a percentage for doing their part (10-20 percent is common) and you will get the rest. Remember taxes are not taken out, so set some aside for that at the end of the year so you are not surprised!

My advice is if you child does enter this world, know as a parent you are there for only a few things: support, transportation and guardianship. I guess similar to putting your child into sports — you let the coaches do their thing. The amount of pride you feel as a parent seeing your child smile in front of the camera is pretty awesome, I must admit. I suppose it is similar to seeing your kid win a soccer game.