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If you get no further than this first sentence, then at least you’ve learned the most important truth about modeling agencies: 

You should never have to pay to sign on with an agency

If you are being asked to pay a large fee for classes, head shots, or for anything … walk away from that agency. 

Be careful.There are a lot of scams out there. If you’re offered a contract, take it home, read it over, and consult the BBB.

What smart steps can you take when submitting to an agency?

1. Research agencies in your area. Most legitimate agencies only require snapshots and don’t require you to pay money to work with their photographer prior to being signed. (Once you sign on with them, you may need to have professional portraits taken.) 

2. Follow directions carefully. Some agencies prefer digital submissions while others prefer printed images submitted by mail. Thousands of people submit images every day. The only way to increase the odds that your pictures will be seen is to submit them in the manner requested by each agency.

3. Do a good job on your snapshots. For children under the age of 4, you definitely don’t need to hire a photographer for your initial submissions. Your child is changing way too frequently for this to be cost effective. Agencies want to see clear pictures with minimal visual distractions. Set your camera to portrait mode and photograph your child in front of a white wall. A clean nose and face are always important. Include a variety of full body shots and head shots. Unless you are a skilled photo retoucher, do not run photo actions or filters on your images. Changing your child’s appearance is counterproductive. The agency needs to see what he or she actually looks like.

After the age of 4 when development starts slowing down a bit, you might consider working with a photographer for headshots just to make sure your images stand out from the crowd. In all honesty, this is still not a necessity. If you are planning on having pictures done with a photographer for your personal use anyway, you might consider working some headshots into the session, too.

4. Don’t forget to include your child’s name, age, height and your contact information along with the images!

5. Submit to numerous agencies at the same time (unless the agency indicates that it will not accept multiple submissions). If you don’t hear back from any of the agencies, don’t be disappointed. The market changes quickly. Try again. Persistence is almost always needed.

here’s what some experts have to say:

Marlene Wallach, author of the “Just Ask Marlene” series, talks about how to get your child started in the industry.

BabyCenter discusses Modeling: Is it right for your baby or child?


Kate Callahan is an on-location photographer who LOVES to capture authentic memories for families. She’s available for weddings, senior photos, child photo sessions, and family photography.  Kate works with clients throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC,  Delaware (and the tri-state area), and beyond. Visit her photography blog.

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