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Is Your Kid Model Material?
By: Edwina Owens Elliott
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For a few years as a retail art director I worked primarily with children, from babies to size 14. And I met all kinds of children. Some were onlies, used to being the center of attention. Others were part of a crew of two or three. A few families were large — four, five, even six kids. All of them working models. They would roll up in SUVs and mini-buses and pile out with their backpacks and schoolbooks. Mom may drop one little model off at your shoot and then cut out with a second kid for another shoot.
Most successful young models are very smart, outgoing, and above all, they’re well-behaved. Their parents are laid back but totally in charge. While they are kids first and foremost and may run around the photo studio screaming at the tops of their lungs, once in front of the camera it’s no-nonsense time and a snap of their parent’s finger should be all it takes to get them in line and ready to go to work. Often squatting right alongside the photographer, some parents watch their kids’ every move. Others hardly pay any attention at all, knowing with utmost certainty that their child will do what they came there to do. In modeling family dynasties, by the time the second child is a working model, so is the next child and the next after that, it seems. They teach and instruct one another and the parent’s job then is merely to chauffeur them all from shoot to shoot and sign the voucher once the assignment is done.
Of course, horror stories abound. There are some scary kids out there. Some are simply unhappy, forced to live out someone else’s dream. Others are spoiled to the point of not even getting up off their little duff unless promised a toy. Or food. Scary parents are out there too. Willing to stand on their heads and humiliate themselves while coaxing and bribing their child to follow direction. Kids know when they’ve got you by the balls. It shows in their little eyes and it’s chilling.
As an art director, hiring children who enjoy modeling can be fun and even magical. Four eleven year olds in cool clothes can be a real joy to shoot. If they get caught up in their own happy conversation, they’ll forget all about the camera. That’s what you want. Something genuine. Real. If you’re thinking beauty pageants and Honey Boo Boo, stop right now. That’s not what this is.
A modeling career for your child might be something to consider. But be realistic. Know your kid. And know yourself.

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About the Author

Edwina Owens Elliott is a graphic designer, art director, illustrator and owner of FASHION+ART, an e-commerce art gallery. She has a lifelong passion for fashion, art, writing, music, movies, books, theater, cooking, gardening, plotting and planning and dreaming big dreams. Find her online here and here.

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