Ever gazed lovingly at your little one’s angelic face and thought ‘She’s so cute, she could be a model!’? And what could be easier than turning up to a shoot, letting your tot beam at the camera, then going home with some dosh for her bank account and lovely pictures for the album. Simple, right? Think again! Baby modelling is a serious business.
Amanda Johns, founder of modelling agency Grace and Galor (www.graceandgalor.com) says: “Mums need to send in photos first of all – as clear as possible, with your baby’s face filling the frame and nothing blocking the shot, so no hats. We also need to know your baby’s age and length. Then we take a look at them and call in the ones we’d like to see. Once they come in to our office, we get to meet them, see the baby and get an idea of the baby’s temperament.”
Being well behaved is vital – the most gorgeous baby may not get work if he or she can’t sit still in front of a camera. “Meeting the mum is important, too,” says Amanda. “Mums need to be patient and must be able to enjoy the experience, that’s key. It’s not the baby’s career, this is meant to be fun!”
That model look
“Agencies look for babies that’ll meet their clients needs,” explains Charlotte Evans, who runs Elizabeth Smith agency (www.elizabethsmith.co.uk). “Clients – magazines, clothing companies and so on – will have an idea of the kind of look they’re after, and we need to then come up with possible babies for them,” she says.
“It’s lovely to go through the process of a picture coming in on email, to meeting the mum and baby, to seeing their picture in an advert or on the cover of a magazine like Practical Parenting & Pregnancy,” adds Charlotte. “That’s when it’s satisfying, to think we’ve got a casting right.”
Getting the job
Agencies can see up to 30 babies a day, says Charlotte. “Of the 25 to 30 daily appointments I have, I say ‘Yes’ to around 5 per cent,” she reveals. “Of that 5 per cent, only couple of mums will take it up.”
Once an offer’s been made to go on the books, a mum will be run through an agency’s terms and conditions. Then it’s off to castings, where mums and babies go to meet the person hiring the models to see if they’re suitable for the shoot or campaign. If your baby’s picked at a casting for a shoot, you’ll be given a call time – when you need to be at a studio, usually in central London.
“Bear in mind that being at the shoot not only means commuting to town with a buggy, but getting across London, too,” advises Charlotte. “It can be tough for the mum, and when you arrive you’ll need to be patient as they might not be able to use you straight away, for example, if they’re still waiting for clothes to arrive, or another baby’s delayed things by crying or needing a feed.”
How much you’ll get paid depends on each client. “Most pay between £50 and £60 per hour,” explains Amanda Johns. “Castings usually pay around £18.” Agencies take fees from the hourly rate before the cash comes to the baby, or more realistically, the mum.
Ready for YOUR close up?
- Be patient and see it as fun.
- Remember that castings aren’t a guarantee of a booking – you could end up feeling more let down.
- Take a bag of essentials – food, nappies, toys, etc. You need to be able to cater to your baby’s needs on a shoot, as the organisers might not have what you need.
- Plan well – you could be called to a London shoot as early as 9.30am, which requires travelling with a baby in rush hour.
- Get back-up childcare if you have other children.
- Be good at entertaining yourself – sometimes you might be waiting around on a shoot for a while.
Mum Abigail Todd, 34, from Ipswich, found herself and her baby Darcie, 17 months, thrown into the modelling spotlight when Darcie won the Practical Parenting & Pregnancy 2010 competition to find a cover star. Darcie is now registered with an agency and she has her PPP cover on the playroom wall. “It was so amazing when I saw someone in the supermarket reading the magazine with Darcie on the cover,” says Abigail. “I was so proud I bought eight copies! And it’s something we’ll keep for her when she’s older. My brother works in the media and advised us before we sent any pictures off and chose an agency. Darcie seems to get more beautiful as she gets older, so I’ll keep her on the agency books for at least another term, but we do take things lightly, as I think all mums should. If you’re relaxed, your baby will be relaxed, and things will go much more easily.”