Getting an Agent
Is there anything I can do to make my baby's photo stand out to an agency?
It's more about what you shouldn't do, cautions everyone in the industry. Don't pay for professional photos, which often look too posed. Don't dress your child up or hide his or her hair under a hat. Gleason's pet peeve is photos of babies with food smeared on their face. "That's not cute," she says. Neither are bunny rabbits, or Christmas trees, or any of the props they use in portrait studios. Gleason says that the best pictures are of babies wearing only diapers -- or maybe a simple dress or shirt -- sitting on the floor with virtually nothing in the background. No earrings, no bows, just a clean baby in an unfrilly outfit.
Also include your baby's birthday and current clothing size. When agencies pick models, they're filling age- and size-based holes in their roster. Maybe they already have several 12-month-old girls but need a 6-month-old, or an African-American newborn, or a size 2T Caucasian boy. If you don't get called, that doesn't mean that your child is rejected. You can always try again in three or four months to see if an agency has new openings, suggests Gleason.
Do I need an agency? Can't I just send pictures directly to magazines or networks or advertisers?
Employees at Baby Gap or CBS -- or, for that matter, American Baby -- don't sort through photo submissions. Why should they, when they can rely on the agencies to do that work? Plus, agencies teach parents etiquette and prep them for jobs -- for instance, good agencies warn parents that they have no say in what their child will wear during a photo shoot. Finally, agencies have set fees so that the companies hiring their models don't have to haggle about money. You can send your child's photograph to everyone in the world, of course, but only modeling agencies will give it serious consideration.
What agency should I start with?
Begin close to home. Call your Better Business Bureau and ask which local modeling agencies are registered with them and have good reputations. If there are none in your area, expand your search to the nearest big city -- provided you're willing to commute.
Be content to start with local ad campaigns and local commercials. If you and your child become really committed to modeling, then consider joining an agency in one of the three major cities so you can do national jobs. But you'll have to move there to do it, cautions Stewart. Ford won't hire models who are more than an hour's drive from New York City.
If I get invited to an agency but my baby is having a bad day, can I reschedule?
Unless your baby is sick, just show up, advises Buess, who adds that agencies just don't have that much time to be screening new models. If you get a letter saying an agency wants to see you, call and book an appointment, and then don't break it, Buess stresses. A parent who needs to reschedule sends up a red flag -- he or she may be unreliable about showing up to modeling jobs.
Can I do anything in the few minutes I'm there to make them see how wonderful my baby is?
The truth is, the agency is interviewing you as much as your child, and how you act can make or break your baby's chance. Agencies expect parents to walk a fine line between being professional and laid-back. According to Stewart, agencies need parents to be completely committed, yet relaxed. Marshall adds that a parent can't be pushy. You have to be able to cheerfully rearrange your schedule at the drop of a hat if an agency calls you to audition, and you have to not take rejections personally.
It's also really important that only one parent bring one baby, says Gleason. Don't bring the whole family to the agency and don't come with excuses if you're late.
How will I know if I've joined a good agency?
First, don't confuse a model scout or a search firm with a modeling agency, Rose warns. A scout charges money to take your child's picture and then just sends them to agencies anyway. You can just send pictures yourself, Rose advises.
A real agency should work tirelessly to get your child jobs -- agents only earn money through commissions. (In the meantime, you shouldn't have to pay the agency anything, ever.) You sit back and wait for phone calls about auditions (also called castings or go-sees) and should hear from the agency perhaps once a week. Reputable agencies don't mind if you stop by their office to update them as your child grows into bigger sizes.