Yes! It’s the one photo that could launch your young star’s career. I will explain what your child needs headshots for, what casting directors or designers look for, and if you should hire a photographer or use a camera phone.
In 2009, I started going on castings and auditions for expecting moms. Once I gave birth, I decided my adorable son MJ should also model. I remember sending in his photos, that I took myself on a digital camera and submitting them to about 7 NYC agencies. I received no call backs for 5 months. I didn’t understand why, we were constantly stopped on the streets by strangers who wanted to take a second glance at MJ. While attending my sisters wedding in Las Vegas, the photographer ran up to MJ sitting in his stroller and snapped a few quick photos.
When we received the wedding photos we were in awe of his headshots! I submitted his new photos and he received call backs from 2 agencies and booked an educational dvd campaign. We signed to an agency and from age 6 months -18 months MJ went on a few auditions and booked a clothing campaign. However he needed new headshots every 3 months. Luckily, we could use his modeling pictures. Eventually I started working full time and we only attend casting about twice a year currently. MJ is known as a NYC industry kid, because of previous work or features in publications like Gothamist or the NY Post.
So why do headshots matter? It’s the first impression a designer or casting director has of new talent. Serious entertainers should definitely invest in quality photos. Children need new photos more frequently than adults, so new pictures should be taken every 3-6 months. This can be quite costly at 150$-500$ (yes 500$ USD for established photographers)
I recommend that parents take clear photos with camera phones, in an outdoor setting, facing the sun or with the sun at a high angle. I have seen amazing photos taken with IPhones on portrait mode! Make sure your digital photos are bright. This can be easily achieved by simply editing the photo on your cell phone or by using an app PicsArt.
Your child’s headshot should showcase their personality, smile and highlight the brightness in their eyes! Keep hair minimally style in its natural state. No make up is necessary. Refrain from styling in hats or glasses. If your child does wear glasses, like my son MJ, feel free to have headshots with glasses and one without.
It’s best to work with a photographer who specializes in children’s photos. (Visit our Instagram page we follow and work with quite a few!) On the day of the photoshoot make sure your child is well rested and hasn’t had any sugary snacks or beverages.
Parents please listen to your photographer! Stay out of their way and let them do the bulk of the work. Don’t try to crack jokes, tickle your kiddo or bring props unless the photographer asks. I remember being in set at a photoshoot and watching a mom and dad bring a loud light up toy to make their baby smile. It worked. However, the other babies were frozen in fear. Also, don’t try to snap pictures with your phone, #setlife always ask first! I ask 100% if the time and I always receive a yes.
Casting directors will always look for a young model that will best showcase their brand. So if your rising star doesn’t book a gig don’t worry there are many opportunities, you just haven’t found the right match yet. Don’t give up, get a website or Instagram page for your child and post clear photos. Have them featured on kids fashion pages or in independent magazines. Register for open castings and don’t turn your nose up at unpaid gigs. Non compensated modeling gigs are plentiful and you will receive clear headshots and photos for your child’s portfolio!
If you have any question or need more info
Follow us @freshkidnation on Twitter and Instagram