I love working with actors and really enjoy working with kids who want to be actors too! And when it comes to getting noticed, publicity headshots are just as important for children as they are for adults. So here are a few tips on getting the best images possible for your young star.
Do I really need professional headshots for my child? Yes. Headshots are a necessary investment if you and your kid are serious about acting or print work. Casting agents and managers expect to see professional photographs—not the one dad took with his cell phone trying to save a little money. Instagram won’t cut it either. Professional headshots show your dedication to your child’s career. And, expect your kid’s experienced competition did not submit a headshot taken by dad. Bottom line: Don’t skimp. To that end, I’d recommend that children under the age of 18 get new headshots every six months. “Every six months” I hear you grumbling “this is going to cost me an arm and a leg?” No, not really. Like many photographers, I offer a substantial discount when your child returns for headshot updates within a specified time. My offer: a 40% discount. That’s not so bad, is it?
What should my kid wear to a photo session? Your child’s wardrobe should include a variety of shirts, pants, skirts and dresses in solid colors only. No busy prints, stripes or patterns of any kind. Outfits should be free of advertisements or logos for The Avengers orThe Little Mermaid or anything else. The idea behind the headshot is to emphasize your child’s adorable face and sparkling personality, not to endorse multimillion corporations—at least not until your kid gets paid to do so! Also, leave the frilly dresses and little boy suits at home. Managers and agents just want to see a kid looking like a kid!
How long does a headshot session take and how do we prepare? A typical session lasts from one hour to 90 minutes, depending on the child’s age and the number of outfits to be worn during the shoot. As to be expected, children under five can only be animated and perky for so long (come to think of it, that’s true of my 20-year-old!) I schedule headshot sessions between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily. So, if you know your 4-year-old shuts down after lunch, schedule your session in the morning. Bring a little snack and water too. But please, no, no, NO sugar before your session! We all remember what happened to little Jake after having three Mountain Dews at the Blue and Gold dinner. It’s was not pretty. And since teenagers need more sleep than anyone it is critical that they GO TO BED EARLY the night before the session. See my emphasis? I have a teenager who keeps the hours of a bat, especially in the summer! No one likes a crabby teen.
How do I even choose a photographer? The answer is easy! Pick me, pick me, pick me! Seriously. It’s important to find someone who actually likes kids and specializes in headshots. When you’re going down your list of professionals just ask if they like working with children. If they hesitate, move on. You’ll want a photographer who is patient, able to give gentle direction and who’ll help your child feel at ease. Your local department store portrait photographer won’t do either. Your photographer needs to know the difference between a “theatrical” headshot and a“commercial” one and what images work best for a “zed” card. Don’t wait until you are in the studio to ask these important questions. You’ll be wasting money when you could have hired a pro from the start. Remember, if your child is serious about the business, you’ll want to establish a good, lasting relationship with your photographer. You just never know. Your little darling really could get to Hollywood or Broadway. They’ll need new headshots wherever they go. My bags are already packed!