6 things I learned about baby modelling when my kid shot a Gap ad

It started with a Facebook alert. A coworker had tagged me in her friend’s post, and her comment read, “You should send her your daughter’s pic!” Intrigued, I clicked through: The friend was a children’s casting director and was in desperate need of models for an imminent shoot. “Looking for a baby girl, 6-9 months old, with A LOT of hair,” the post said.

I had to laugh; my daughter, nine months old at the time, already had as much hair as most preschoolers. She was born with such a full head that you could actually see it on the sonograms.

As for her modelling potential? There’s probably no one more subjective than a mother, so, to me, she was perfect. I quickly ran the situation by my husband and then sent a recent picture to the casting director. Two minutes later, I had a reply back: “Gap Final Call Backs.”

Wait. GAP?! This was legit!

I was excited—but also hesitant. How did I feel about potentially subjecting our infant daughter to the chaos and stress of a casting, let alone a shoot? And, selfishly, what would our friends think of us? The thought of anyone associating me with the term “stage parent” was already making me cringe. But, on the other hand, if she booked it, what a hilarious story to tell when she was older. And, more immediately, did this mean free clothes and portraits for our holiday card?

We decided to go for it—the odds were low she’d book the campaign anyway, considering most of these kids (and by kids, I mean babies; some weren’t even sitting up) already had agents. Luckily, the appointment happened to be within walking distance of our New York apartment; I later found out many other families trekked from New Jersey, Connecticut, or farther. Unluckily, it was right in the middle of her morning nap.

Lesson #1: Modelling is on its own schedule. If you’re hell-bent on getting your kid a major campaign, you better live in a big city—Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles or New York (or be willing to travel there on a moment’s notice). And while your call time won’t ever be 4 a.m., it will most likely encompass at least one nap.

Once we arrived at the casting, it was impossible not to ogle all the babies crammed into the waiting area. I’ve never seen a collection of more beautiful children—every colour of the rainbow. After signing in, we were told to wait until they called us to meet with the photographer. Oh, and wait we would. Which brings me to the next lesson.

Lesson #2: Consider how your kid handles waiting around. One of the major character traits any photographer will be looking for in young children is temperament. Your little lady could be Kendall incarnate, but if she can’t sit in front of a camera without bursting into tears, or if keeping her entertained for hours in a small room with lots of strangers is going to be a huge challenge, then modelling is probably not her calling.

When we finally did meet the photographer, the whole interaction took no more than five minutes. He snapped a few test shots, asked me to dance around to get my daughter to smile, and that was it. If we landed the gig, the casting team told us, they’d be in touch over email.

So—big reveal—even without an agent (what they call “street cast” in the biz), my daughter booked the shoot. I received an email that night with her call time not for the shoot, but for the fitting.

Lesson #3: Modelling is not for someone with an already-packed schedule. If you’ve been keeping track, that’s at least one day for casting, another for the fitting, and then finally the shoot. It’s a huge time commitment for a parent. And if your kid is already in school, they could end up missing multiple days for each gig.

The next morning, we returned to the studios, where the hordes of children had been replaced with racks upon racks of brightly colored onesies and floral-patterned dresses. One of the stylists chose outfits for my daughter to try on, while the tailor stood ready to pin it for alterations.

Lesson #4: Stranger danger and modelling are a tough mix. There will be manyunfamiliar people touching your kid over the course of a shoot. Sometimes that means pairing an overtired infant with a young assistant wielding a box of sharp pins. Fun stuff. There is good news, though: The kids do receive a fitting fee in addition to their hourly shooting rate. Speaking of remuneration…

Lesson #5 : There’s not a lot of money in modelling. Sure, if you book a major commercial, it’s enough to start a (tiny) college fund, but your average print ad, even for a major brand, isn’t going to net more than a few hundred dollars. Plus, you might have to factor in the 20 percent cut for your agent, as well as the 15 percent that goes directly into a Coogan account (a blocked trust to make sure children see a percentage of their earnings as adults) if you live in California or New York.

The day of the shoot was nutty. My daughter met with the hair and clothing stylists, the tailor, and was then entertained by the on-set teacher, a mandatory presence even for the youngest of models. It was also backstage where I met my first stage moms, who, I admit, weren’t quite as Toddlers-and-Tiaras-y as I expected.

They did, however, express astonishment at our lack of representation. “You must book an agent as soon as you get home,” one mom admonished me. “And everyone will want her: she’s a ‘Gap baby’ now.”

I mulled this over as we migrated to the set, where a “baby wrangler”—yes, it’s a thing! A job!—thrust various toys-on-sticks in my daughter’s face as the photographer rapidly snapped. As directed, I stood off to the side, to be less of a distraction. The whole process took no more than about 10 minutes, and thank god, she smiled! And that was that; they thanked us for our time and sent us home.

Lesson #6: Don’t expect photos, clothes or be notified when your campaign goes live. Do you know how I first saw my daughter’s ad? When my friend’s son got cast in a later campaign and she happened to see the printout on set. When you sign with an agency, they actually tell you never to ask the client for the publishing date, or to request copies of photos.

Many months later, when the campaign finally launched, it was of course a huge thrill to see my sweet baby girl emblazoned on a giant poster. And yet, I probably wouldn’t do this again. She’s now quite the rambunctious toddler and I wouldn’t say taking direction is one of her strong suits. And while we did end up signing with an agency, I’m terrible at sending them the requested monthly photos, so I’m not surprised we haven’t booked a second gig.

Plus, there’s something to be said for going out on top, right?

Dreamgirl Elena

A girl living in Chisinau, Moldova, modeling in a variety of leotards, swim suit, shorts and tops.
Her original site www.dreamgirl-elena.com (worked in 2007-2009 only).
She made 75 sets. Here are her photo sets 1-69, 4096 images, 2,854,961,927 bytes (100% complete).
Photo resolution 2336 x 3504 pixels.

Download full photo sets:

Meet the child models who are taking the fashion world by storm – and earning big bucks in the process

Top child models can earn six-figure sums for TV ads and up to $1,500 per day for editorial work

They have fronted campaigns for brands such as Chanel, Fendi, J Crew and Dolce & Gabbana – and all before their twelfth birthdays

Forget Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss, there are a whole host of fresh new fashion faces on the scene who are quickly becoming the toast of the modeling industry – before they’ve even reached their twelfth birthdays.

According to an article by Jane Ridley at the New York Post, these mini models are now among some of fashion’s highest-earning stars, with many commanding six-figure sums for one television commercial and up to $1,500 per day for editorial work.

Take 11-year-old Ekaterina Samsonov. Despite her young age, Ekat – as she is known to her friends – has already appeared in campaigns for the likes of J Crew, DKNY, Macy’s and JC Penney, earning a reported $50,000 in the last year alone.

Pint-sized star: Ekaterina Samsonov has already modeled for the likes of DKNY, J Crew and Macy's

Pint-sized star: Ekaterina Samsonov has already modeled for the likes of DKNY, J Crew and Macy’s

Like father, like son: Hudson Kroenig is the son of Chanel model and muse Brad Kroenig and has already modeled for Chanel (pictured), Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi

Hudson made his catwalk debut alongside his father (pictured together in January 2013) during the Chanel S/S11 show.

Like father, like son: Hudson Kroenig, son of Chanel model and muse Brad Kroenig (right, with Hudson, in January 2013), has already modeled for Chanel (left), Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi

High earner: Lily Chee has raked in $12,500 this year thanks to her work with the likes of Nike and Levi's

High earner: Lily Chee has raked in $12,500 this year thanks to her work with the likes of Nike and Levi’s

And as if that wasn’t enough, the pint-sized fashion star has also landed herself roles in two upcoming movies. The first, Anesthesia, which also stars Kristen Stewart, is due out later this year, while indie drama The Ticket is set to hit screens some time in 2015.

Then there’s Hudson Kroenig, the six-year-old son of Chanel model and muse Brad Kroenig and his wife Nicole.

Hudson made his catwalk debut alongside his famous father in the Chanel S/S ’11 show and since then has gone on to appear in campaigns for Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana. He has also appeared in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and W Magazine.

While Hudson’s annual earnings are kept a closely-guarded secret by his parents, it’s thought that he is most likely to be one of the world’s top-earning child models, thanks in large part, no doubt, to his impressive fashion heritage.


1. Ekaterina Samsonov, $50k

The 11-year-old had a bumper year thanks to campaigns for J Crew, Macy’s and JC Penney – to name but a few. She also earned an unspecified five-figure sum for her work on a Nutella commercial for network TV that took a day to film.

2. Baylor and Hudson Cryder, $45k each

Both Baylor, 10, and Hudson, 7, have well and truly earned their place among fashion’s elite, after landing jobs with the likes of Ralph Lauren Children, J.Crew and Oscar de la Renta Kids.

3. Lily Chee, $22k

After being discovered by a Whilemena Models scout while shopping with her dad, 11-year-old Lily has worked with Nike, Levi’s, Kohls, Uniqlo and Ralph Lauren.

4. Julian O’Neill, $12,500

Despite his young age, seven-year-old Julian has already worked with a huge number of high-profile brands, including Hanna Andersson, Euroclub Kids, Roberto Cavalli Kids, Vogue Bambini and Toys R Us.

5. Hudson Kroenig, unknown

While six-year-old Hudson’s exact earnings have not been revealed, insiders believe that the Chanel campaign star is likely to be one of the highest-earning mini models around.

And while Ralph Lauren model Lily Chee took a slightly different route into the industry – she was discovered by a Whilemina Models scout while shopping with her dad Max two years ago – that hasn’t stopped her from amassing an extensive portfolio of editorial work which includes campaigns for Nike, Levi’s, Kohls and Uniqlo.

The 11-year-old’s modeling has earned her $22,000 in the last year – a figure which looks set to keep rising if her popularity continues.

There are also a number of sibling mini models currently scaling the fashion ladder.

Baylor and Hudson Cryder are two of the most popular child models currently working in the industry and the pair have achieved the type of success that many adult models can only dream of.

Baylor, 10, recently appeared on the front cover of Vogue Bambino, while Hudson, 7, was flown out to the Bahamas in order to appear alongside British socialite India Hicks in a Ralph Lauren shoot.

‘It was crazy,’ mother Mary said of the whirlwind trip during an interview with the New York Post. ‘But most of the work is in and around New York City.’

Sisters Emilie and Alexandra Su lead a similarly jet-set lifestyle. The duo regularly appear alongside each other on high-profile campaigns around the world and have recently worked with the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Target, Uniqlo, H&M, GlaxoSmithKline and Nickelodeon.

Thankfully for the pair, their mother, Jayne Choi, is incredibly supportive of their early career path.

‘I love the confidence [that] modeling has brought my daughters,’ she told the New York Post. ‘They have good manners and the poise and focus [that] you need in this industry.’

Sister, sister: Emilie (right) and Alexandra Su have both appeared on giant billboards in Asia

Sister, sister: Emilie (right) and Alexandra Su have both appeared on giant billboards in Asia

Hudson Cryder and his brother Baylor are two of the world's highest-earning child models

Baylor Cryder has appeared on the front cover of Vogue Bambino and once flew out to the Bahamas to work on a campaign for J Crew

Family ties: Brothers Hudson (left) and Baylor Cryder are two of the top-earning child models in the business

Model behaviour: Julian O'Neill is a rising star in the child modeling industry and has already appeared in a 12-page spread in Elle

Model behaviour: Julian O’Neill is a rising star in the child modeling industry and has already appeared in a 12-page spread in Elle

According to renowned children’s photographer Lee Clower, it’s not the parents’ opinions who matter when it comes to child modeling – but rather the young fashionistas who are doing the work.

The New-York based snapper’s work is regularly featured in Vogue Bambino and PetitePARADE magazines and he has worked on numerous occasions with many of the world’s leading young models.

He told MailOnline: ‘The most important element of a star kid is that the kid wants to be there at the shoot, not that the mom wants the kid there.’