How can I find a good child photographer?
May 30, 2008 9:31 PM   Subscribe

How can I find a reputable, non-creepy child photographer to take head shots of my 3-year-old son (for the purposes of getting him into advertisements, print specifically)?

I've tried asking around to friends and whatnot in my area, but have come up empty. Just to clarify, we're not looking to make our son into a child star or anything, but rather trying use his good looks, etc. to get his college fund started well before he'll need it.

A bit of a long-shot, but can anybody recommend somebody in/around Orange County, California? If not, some recommendations for how to conduct my search would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by inkedmn to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know this isn't what you asked, but as a casting professional I can tell you that professional head shots of your 3-year-old aren't really expected. Plenty of parents use clear, well-lit photographs that they've taken themselves. In fact, we tend to find the really posed pictures of children to be slightly creepy.

If it helps, there seems to be a lot of parents of actor/model kids on the forum on Most of them will tell you what I just did, but if you're not satisfied with that, you'll also find good leads on photographers for children.
posted by zerbinetta at 9:48 PM on May 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'd recommend contacting a talent agency and asking them for recommendations. I did child acting of the sort you're describing, and that's how we found our photographer. Headshots were basically required to be listed by the talent agencies in our market. I was ten or eleven at the time, though, not a toddler.
posted by BinGregory at 4:28 AM on May 31, 2008

Seconding recommendations. If you're unable to get any, I'd just go for the person with the most experience and highest quality output of the type of photography that you're after. If you can find someone with a lot of high-quality studio-based child portraits, then that's a pretty good sign that they'll know what to do to get the images that you require.

Good luck!
posted by Magnakai at 4:39 AM on May 31, 2008

[few comments removed - derails go straight to metatalk or email thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:37 AM on May 31, 2008

I worked in advertising in New York for years. You definitely do not need professional headshots for a three-year-old.
posted by astruc at 9:07 AM on May 31, 2008

Have a look at Tara Whitneys work. She is not a professional head shots person, but I think she is very good at capturing kids. And she lives in Orange County.
posted by A! at 9:27 AM on May 31, 2008

I work in television and have helped cast child actors; I agree that you don't need pro headshots for kids under about 8 years old. In fact agencies who recommend pro headshots may well be scamming you- some disreputable agents will send eager parents to specific overpriced photographers and take a cut. Plus, as young children grow so fast, they'd need headshots all the time- it really adds up. (Adult actors only get new headshots every 3-5 years, or after major hair or weight changes.) I'd be really wary of using professional photographers for child actors & models.

Here's some more info. There will be a site like this for your state as well- reputable agencies are usually associated, and new agents must adhere to certain codes of conduct before being deemed above-board and allowed to join. Don't join an agency that's not on such a list- no good casting house will work with them anyway, so your son won't be missing out!

Most producers cast kids from clear 4x6 color photos of the kid's face, taken with a regular home camera and printed out at the grocery store. This type of photo would be ideal (well, if the kid was smiling normally instead of making a squooshy face, but ignore that). Facial expression aside, this is a good casting photo for several reasons: the child's face is the most prominent thing in the shot, you can tell how old she is, her outfit has a nice bright colour, her hair is cute and energetic looking, the background is uncluttered, it's lit with diffuse, bright light, and the way the photo is shot has a natural, unpretentious vibe. Again, it would be better if she were smiling, and also if you could see the colour of her eyes more clearly.

Ideally, you get a roll of good quality film & a nice consumer camera, and take a whole roll of film (maybe over a few different days so the kid doesn't look bored by the end of the roll). Switch outfits, hairstyles, and location / background colors a few times. Try to think of the composition- a bright shirt against a neutral background, or a shirt that complements the child's eye color, etc. Have someone on hand to get the kid feeling playful & happy so their expressions are nice. Then snap away, develop the prints, and make a bunch of reprints of your favorites.

To make the kid's resume, you'll need to include:
his name, date of birth (with year), hair & eye colour, height & weight.
parent's or agent's name & contact info (phone & email)
any prior work experience (modelling, commercials, film, plays, etc)
any lessons or special skills (ie, level of karate, sports, swimming, piano, etc)
performance-related experience (drama camp, christmas pageants, choir, etc)
child's hobbies & interests (drawing, lego, singing).

Staple the 4x6 photo to the resume, write a friendly-professional cover letter as the parent, seeking representation for the child, and mail or drop it off to some reputable agents. Call to follow up in a week, schedule a meeting, and bring the child to the meeting. When you're choosing an agent, keep in mind that the agent & the child actually won't ever need to interact that much- the agent's job is to call you, the parent, and book audition times, to which you'll take the child- so although ideally your kid should like his agent, it's much much more important that YOU like & trust the agent.

Good luck!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:54 AM on May 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why does a photographer who would do head shots of a 3 year old have to sell his services against the notion that he's "creepy"?
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:23 PM on June 10, 2008

Who said the photographer was creepy? I was talking about the photographs themselves--often kids posed to look like miniature adults, wearing make-up and suppressing everything that would make them castable as a kid.
posted by zerbinetta at 10:00 AM on June 14, 2008

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