Child modelling and modelling in general is an incredibly lucrative business. With the explosion of social media over the last few years, advertising and marketing has reached a whole new level and more companies are jumping on the instagram and pinterest wagon. With all these new visual outlets, demand for models of all shapes and sizes, age and gender is higher than ever before. And the kids market is in popular demand.
So would you let your little one be the face of the latest children’s campaign?
Just to be clear here we are not talking about those beauty pageants where children don full make up and wigs – that’s an entirely different matter. We’re talking about modelling the latest range of Kids Gap clothes, or appearing in a Pampers advert.
My son happens to be a very sociable, smiley little boy who seems to light up whenever a camera is pointed his way (my friend tells me that this is simply because he is getting attention…!). At the moment he is also very easy going and doesn’t seem to mind being passed around from person to person. A few people have suggested I put him forward for modelling and whilst I see no harm in it, the fact is that it actually requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the parent. And as any model knows, castings can take place anywhere and at any time (and more often than not you get rejected) so you would have to be prepared for your everyday routine to be completely thrown out the window.
I did some modelling as a child (before school age) and booked a few jobs but the reality is that unless you work consistently and the parent is able to ferry the child here there and everywhere, anyone hoping to make a few bob to put away for their children’s future will most likely be disappointed.
Modelling agencies won’t ask for money from you straight away but there will inevitably be initial headshot fees, travel fees and so on. But hey if this doesn’t bother you and you have extra time on your hands with a child who is happy to be photographed then why not apply.
According to an article on netmums, the fees paid by agencies varies, but for photographic work the average is around £60 an hour, or up to £300 a day. For TV commercials it’s around £150 to £350 per day. The most in-demand child models can earn £10,000 a year.
I personally don’t see any harm in putting babies forward for modelling jobs as long as they are comfortable and content. The problems seem to come as children get a little bit older and become more aware of their surroundings. Photo-shoots then can become a bit more staged and less natural and the child is required to have some input.
Some of you may have read about the nine-year-old Russian model Kristina Pimenova. Dubbed ‘the most beautiful girl in the world’, she started modelling at the age of three and has already scored major modelling contracts with such brands as Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Dsquared2, Ermanno Scervino, Replay, Fendi, Benetton and many others.
This sort of success is rare and unfortunately Kristina’s ‘career’ has been marred by controversy and accusations that her parents are taking away her innocence by thrusting her into a narcissistic fickle world.
I recently read a very interesting article about a mother whose initial delight that her one year old daughter had been scouted by a top modelling agency eventually turned to disdain. Thinking that a bit of modelling would teach her child ‘the skills she would need to portray herself as a confident young woman, instead she was taught to be anybody but herself.’
One day, I found myself standing against the wall of a studio, in the shadows. I was listening to a photographer talk to my four year daughter. “Beautiful! I love the way you are looking at me! Keep doing just that, love those eyes, love that smile, love the beautiful girl! Work it for me, work it baby!” That night as I packed up our belongings and loaded her into the car, I knew it was over. I buckled her into her car seat, pulled out of the lot, and knew I was never taking her back.
One hopes that this is an extreme situation and that most parents who sign their bubs up for a spot of modelling can witness a child-friendly environment that simply amounts to a fun day out.
The important thing is to find a reputable agency who don’t ask for money upfront and who have the children’s best interests at heart.
So have you signed your child up with a modelling agency? Is it just a bit of fun or paving the way for a serious career path? Harmless or harmful?