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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Snapshot Tips for Child Models

(This post does not pertain to baby modeling. For info on that type of modeling, please visit my post: Baby Modeling Tips)

I realize that the majority of my posts are targeted towards teens and adult models. But that doesn't mean I've forgotten about the kid models out there!

When it comes to helping parents of aspiring child models, I could easily tell them to refer to my previous posts about taking snapshots and submitting to agencies but I figured it might be challenging/confusing for parents to try and apply that info to their kids when the posts specifically talk about adults and have snapshot examples of older models.

So to make sure I don't leave anybody out, I decided to do this particular post to guide newbie parents through the process of submitting their kids to agencies.

There are a few factors that remain the same for submitting photos of your child to agencies that older models also follow, however:
  • Most (not all) agencies prefer/request non-professional, digital snapshots and not professional photos.
  • The child should appear completely natural (no makeup or fancy hairstyles)
  • No distracting clothing styles, busy patterns, logos, brand names or graphics. Stick to solid colors.
  • Snapshots should be taken indoors with good lighting against a plain white/light colored wall or if taken outdoors, the background should be clutter-free, with no distractions.
Here are some photo examples parents can use for inspiration when putting together their child's snapshots:

 (Note: Some of these have probably been taken by a professional BUT you don't NEED a pro. The reason I am using these particular examples is because it was difficult to find the right kind of non professional, digital snapshots I wanted, since most parents don't post those types of pictures on the Internet. But rest assured, if you know how to operate a digital camera, you can easily take these types of pictures of your own kids and get quality results agencies look for.)
A close-mouthed smile is okay, as long as it doesn't look fake or like the child is uncomfortable. Posing isn't necessary. The way this child model has her hands resting at her sides is perfectly fine.
See how great his smile is? Agencies want child models that aren't afraid to smile! Even if your child has a missing tooth (or two), it's fine...they are kids, after all.
The outfit and colors are great for this child model. Your child can pose a little bit, like she is here, but don't go overboard with it. They should still appear natural in the photo.
This is a very cute headshot that shows the child's personality. Notice how it is taken from the shoulders up. This is the definition of a "headshot."
This headshot is less formal in appearance than the one above but is still an excellent example of a headshot for a child model. His smile is genuine and he looks very comfortable in front of the camera.
The photo samples I've chosen are of younger child models but the same snapshot tips below and the images above also apply to kids that are a bit older, such as those in the "tween category."

The stereotypical, serious pout type of snapshots should only be taken by female models that are 14 years of age and older, who are also tall enough to meet the height requirement for fashion/runway (in most cases, that means being 5'8" or taller...some agencies lower the height requirement for models ages 14-16 to 5'6" or 5'7"). If your daughter is shorter than that and not expected to grow for another few years, then please do the snapshots according to what I've listed in this post.

Now for the differences and tips for how parents should prepare their child's snapshots for agency submission:

Find Out What the Agency Wants BEFORE Picking Up the Camera!

Many agency websites are very good about providing info as to what types of photos they want and what kind. For example, it can be as simple as "please send 2 photos, one closeup and one full body." Others may offer more detailed requirements.

Simple or involved, follow exactly what the agency website says. If submitting to more than one agency, prepare each submission according to what each specifically asks for. Failing to do this means not following directions, which could get your child's submission automatically rejected.

Don't see any kind of submission info? For agency sites that only provide an email address, sending them a closeup shot (headshot) and full body shot should be more than enough to suffice.

Tell Them to Say "CHEESE!"

Remember, child models are supposed to act their age. Children smile, laugh and are all bubbly and cute and stuff. Their snapshots should reflect that. Your child's snapshots should show them smiling (they don't have to be laughing necessarily but they should look happy in the pictures). They're not teen or adult models so there's no need for the serious stare-down expression.

It helps to choose a time of day when you know your child has good energy and isn't tired, cranky or otherwise unfit to produce good photos. Unless you never take pictures of your kids, which I highly doubt, chances are you know what needs to happen in order to get them to take a nice picture.

Make sure your child is facing the camera directly. Avoid snapshots where their face is at a 3/4 angle or in profile. Their head shouldn't be tilted or leaning to one side, either. It photographs weird. All hair should be away from their face and not blocking it in any way.

Don't Worry About Being a Pro Photographer

The great thing about being able to submit snapshots is that any parent can do this themselves. You don't need to hire a professional photographer for this. You don't even need a fancy, schmancy camera, either. A typical digital camera will be fine. As long as you know how to point, focus and shoot clear pictures, you'll be golden.

And don't over analyze the situation. Sure, these snapshots are going to be sent to agencies but they don't expect parents to shoot images that look like they've been taken by Annie Leibovitz. Again, if you've ever taken good pictures of your kids before, I'm positive you'll be more than capable of doing a good job with the snapshots.

Make sure to take more than one photo of each pose so that you have options to choose from. This is much easier than trying to get the perfect shot each time.

Pay Attention to the Details

Once you've gotten your snapshots taken, follow the submission instructions given by each agency website. If you're sending the images by email, note any mention of sizing restrictions. Never send humongous image files to an agency. The safest format to send are JPEGs. If you don't know how already, learn how to resize your photos so that they aren't super big but not teenie-tiny, either.

Want to snail mail the snapshots instead? Again, refer to the website to see if they have a preference on size. In most cases, 5"x7" is the largest you should print any snapshots (4"x6" is the smallest). No need for 8"x10"s. Always send color images, not black and white or sepia. On the back of each photo, the following information should be written:
  • Child's first and last name
  • Age
  • Stats (height, weight, shirt size, shoe size, pants size, dress size for girls, as well as eye color, hair color)
  • Contact info (phone number and email)
  • Your first and last name
These don't need to be put into a special portfolio or binder. Mailing them in a padded envelope is fine. Don't send a CD of the photos unless told to by the agency. If you're asked to bring the snapshots to an interview or casting call, you can simply carry them as is. Again, no need for a portfolio or binder to put them in.

Don't over think this part of the process. As long as your child is in good spirits and you've set aside plenty of time to get the pictures taken, things should turn out just fine. You'll know whether or not the resulting pictures will be good enough to send to agencies once you've reviewed them. Trust your gut. Still not sure? Feel free to email me (daniadenise@gmail.com) and I can tell you whether or not you're on the right track!

***I never share photos or personal information on my blog from readers that email me. Any conversation that takes place via email stays strictly between us.***


Anonymous said...

Hi Dania,

I'm a a few months close on turning 17, standing at 5'9 with a measurements of 34-23-34.5. I'm full Southeast Asian, but I get comments asking if I'm Italian, Mexican, Brazilian (sometimes). My Mom is mixed Chinese, while my dad is mixed Indian. I got the Indian features but with a lighter (more paler, olive) skin tone. The problem is I live in Philippines. And I wear braces. I would love to be a VS model, and get signed by IMG but is it possible to achieve it even I'm here? My plans first is to get signed with an agency here in Manila, Philippines. Elite Manila is on my mind, but are they really connected to Elite NY? But I would love to know what your recommendations are for Philippines? My next move would be IMG Hong Kong (Are they connected as well?) and maybe my chances for IMG NY would be better. Please give me your agency recommendations and I would love to know your opinions and what you think about my plans.


Anonymous said...

How many agents does a model have? For instance they're signed with a Milan, London, NY, LA, Paris agencies. Does that mean they 5 agents? Does this agents follow them to photoshoots? Is it the same as a manager? Or is a model assigned with a manager and agent as well?

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Annie! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #563," which can be found on my new blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Anonymous! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #564," which can be found on my new blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!

Emily said...

Hi its Emily agian!
I know I asked this on another blog of yours , but I thought this should be a VIDEO RESPONSE ANSWER. It is what are the height requirments , mesarments, looks for the the different child models. I have only seen this answer 0-2 times. I think this would be great for younger followers of yours.

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Emily!

You'll find your video reply in its own post here on this blog, as well as on my other blog.

Here is the direct link:


Thanks for the video reply request!

Berna said...

What are your thoughts on a self stamped envelope included with your snapshots? Do or not do? Thanks

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Berna! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #837," which can be found on my other blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!