Sunday, October 29, 2017

From the agent side! No spite.

The Bizzy Mama is just a different mama now.  Still Bizzy…still a mama…so what’s new?  Well, my daughter has slowed down in the biz.  She’s busier with her own stuff now and has wanted to stay closer to home doing camp (in the summer) and tennis, ballet (including the Nutcracker – and all of the various foul-language versions it earns the closer we get to the performance), Girl Scouts, softball and other kid stuff like birthday parties.  BUT: she still wants to be a movie star and a model, so once a month or so she’ll still want an audition.  It’s nice to dabble a little on that side without the full drop-everything-and-run schedule we used to have.

But what is the Bizzy Mama doing every day?  I’m an agent now, y’all.  Yup.  Full-fledged.  So now I can write to you knowing the business backwards and forwards – inside and out.  And really: stop the presses NOT – I don’t have any major revelations for you.  What I can do is 100% answer your questions honestly and truly.  And the one that so many parents seem to want answered…Do agents punish parents/kids (for whatever reason)?

I’d like to put an interlude in before the actual answer (an imagine me nudging a colleague and saying this under my breath) “Do they even know how we make money?”  If a kid who can book the job is not put forth to casting or the client and we don’t book the job, we don’t make money.

Actually, I’m going to put in another interlude.

When I was in my first few weeks as an agent, people kept asking me how different it was on the other side.  I shrugged my shoulders often and said it really wasn’t *that* much different than what I expected – I felt that I had a really good handle on the business.  (Emphasis on business.)  I’m observant; I tend to absorb as much as possible; I soak it all in; I learn what I can.  What actually DID surprise me, though, was the extent to which the agencies need to hustle to get bookings.  And this really shouldn’t have surprised me – I was just somewhat oblivious to the competition out there.  Beautiful kids galore, happy agents, right?  Well, sure, but it’s like any other “agency” or brokerage – be it realtors, auto dealerships, travel agents.  They all have perfectly wonderful things to offer but ultimately a client needs to make a choice.  And that’s the way it is among the child modeling agencies – there are a good handful of solid, reputable agencies in NYC and they all have hard-working agents and gorgeous kids.  Clients only need so many for their projects.  Try as we might, we cannot really convince Gap or Amazon to increase the number of kids they may book to make it all go around “so it’s fair” (ugh, jeeeez, now there’s another blog post).  It is, as they say, what it is.  Bottom line: we compete.

So if you do something YOU THINK pisses us off – or ACTUALLY pisses us off – are we going to punish you?

I’m not going to speak for any other agents, but I’m probably pretty safe in speaking from the perspective of a sane business person who needs to make money: I’m a professional.  I am not going to “punish” you.  If you do something inappropriate, I am going to tell you.  If I think it means we cannot work together, I will warn you about that and we will come to an understanding about how to go forward.  If it really breaches our professional relationship, I will cut you loose.  Otherwise, we will move on and I will continue to represent your kid just as zealously as I did yesterday.  Because I need to make money and I get that is the reason we are all here.  But I will not play games because I do not have the time nor the energy (nor, frankly, the brain cells – I am an aging woman) for that and I hope you will not spend any time thinking, “Did I do something wrong?  Why haven’t I heard from them?”  if we haven’t emailed you recently.  (Hashtag office coffee fund: pay a dollar every time a parent writes, “We haven’t heard from you – I hope I didn’t do something wrong!”)

No, no, no, parents.  We want to work in partnership with you.  We need your updates and photos and cute stories from vacations.  If you were 15 minutes late to a casting that one time because of an accident on the West Side Highway, WE GET IT.  You called and you let us know and when casting called, we were on top of it.  That ONE TIME you didn’t book out even though you have been perfect about booking out for TWO YEARS?  Ok, ok, maybe we’ll say “Please don’t forget to book out at least two weeks in advance next time!” but we PROMISE that is NOT going to stop us from submitting your child every time we get that breakdown.  There are even really bad things you can do that might not make us punish you – and I’m not even going to say what those are because I don’t want you to think you can get away with them – but the bottom line is, we don’t punish you.  If your kid is capable of booking a job – WHICH IS WHY WE SIGNED YOUR KID – we will not stop submitting your child for jobs.  Because this goes back to the whole business thing and making money thing.  “Punishing” you -- that is spite.  And spite does not run a business.  Spite does not pay the rent, does not put gas in my tank, and does not buy my child’s dance shoes.  So until spite takes the form of currency, it has no place in business.

What will stop me from submitting your child for jobs?  If you ignore emails and phone calls and I’m not sure if I can reach you or not.  (It’s not punishing you – I can’t count on you, so I can’t risk being unreliable for a client.)  If you don’t send photo and size updates on a regular basis.  (I have no idea if I am submitting you for the right breakdowns – again, I need to be reliable for a client.)  There’s nothing more puzzling that going a few months without hearing from a parent and then reading them ask if things are slow and why they haven’t gotten anything lately…what am I ALWAYS going to write back?  “Please send us updated sizes and photos so we can make sure we are submitting ___ for the right jobs.”  We’re thrilled to hear from you – and I wish we had the time to reach out to each of you each month and do the legwork ourselves…but as I used to tell my students when they were clueless about their homework assignments, they have 6 teachers a day to keep track…versus me having 125 students a day to keep track of.  Now, as an agent, it’s even a little more than that.  (But I promise, no one just like your child.)  Bottom line: be 100% reachable when we contact you, let us know when you are not available, and keep up-to-date with sizes and photos.  If you drop off the face of the earth, I will stop submitting your kid.

So no, we don’t punish you.  We can’t operate on spite.  There will be slow patches, and it’s probably no one’s fault other than just a lull...season, size, which clients are in town, which kids are top bookers in the industry right now…did a butterfly flap its wings in a rain forest somewhere…and we really do want to work together.  We’ve got this.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Managing Those School Absences

Welcome to the first Bizzy Mama blog post under for which I have a new perspective: the AGENCY!  I have to say, though, I think I could have given the agency perspective on this one already.  Remember how I always say to remember that this is a BUSINESS?

So, thinking about BUSINESS, it only makes total sense to write about school and absences and your child’s job as a model/performer.  Right?  The thing is: somehow it does need to all come together.  Because that is the reality.  Your kid is a kid, who probably goes to school (of which some form is required by our society), AND your kid works in a legitimate, fast-paced and high-expectations business.  Making it all work can be a challenge, but it can be done.  It depends on a few things.

First, I’ll get this out of the way.  By having a school-age child and signing on to be a model/actor, you are accepting the fact that school absences will occur.  Unless you are in this ONLY for the summer, school absences are inevitable.  You really cannot have it both ways.  So accept that fact outright, and decide your game plan.  I’ve heard parents say things like, “Well, if they want to work with kids, they need to understand that school comes first!”  Unfortunately, modeling and performing fit into a mostly Monday-Friday, workday schedule.  For all of the adults in the business (production teams, photographers, stylists, etc.), it’s their job – and they operate according to a typical work schedule.  (I say “typical”, but there are shoots that occur on weekends and holidays, so I don’t want to make blanket statements.)  If your kid can’t work because of school – another kid can.  And I don’t mean to be mean by this – it’s just the way of the business.  If school absences are not acceptable for you, consider summer work or whether or not this is the right business for you.

I would say the most significant factor in pulling it off – achieving that balance for a kid who manages both work and school – is:  <dramatic pause> YOU.  The parent.  How you deal with everyone in the equation will make all the difference in the world when it comes to the great balancing act.  First, consider yourself a role model.  How do you present yourself in situations at school with teachers and administrators?  I will tell you 100% what NEVER EVER EVER to say.  Do not say this.  I taught high school for twenty years and I can tell you this is SUPER irritating.  Never say: “Will my child be missing anything next week?” or “Did my child miss anything important yesterday?”  YES, your child missed/will miss important things.  School is important; there may be some days more exciting than others; it’s all valuable.  Think about how to rephrase that.  “My son will need to miss some class time next week; what can I do with him to help him stay on track with his classmates?”  maybe add something like, “I know you may not have time to put together work in advance, but I’d love to know what you’re working on in math/science/social studies so I can help keep him on track as much as possible.  I’ll check in again at the end of the week for any suggestions you may have.”  So what you’ve done there is show the appropriate respect for school and the teacher, you’ve shown initiative to make up some of the gap between makeup work and class time, and you’ve committed yourself to communicating and keeping that communication open.  Human perspective: you are totally respectful and realize you’re in a collaborative situation.  You’ve agreed to take on some of this yourself and not burden others with your child’s extraordinary needs.  Very importantly, you’re not treating the teacher like some sort of learning servant.  (That was the worst.  I’m all for professionalism and expectations that your child has a great teacher, but when I would get these demanding letters about a kid needing a week’s worth of work because he’s going to Aruba right before mid-term exams, I would basically hate you.  No, I was not going to take significant time away from my other 124 students to make sure your pampered prince had a packet of work HE WOULD NEVER DO ANYWAY.)

I can say without fail that in any walk of life, you get more flies with honey.  The sweeter and more gracious you are, people will be much more willing to work with you.  Thus, the reverse is true: if you are a total pain in the ass, you will get nowhere.

Now here’s where I’m going to come in with the agency perspective.  If you need to focus on school BOOK OUT.  If you know your child has a pressing engagement – of any sort – bust especially in school, please book out in advance.  And you know what the school calendar is – if there is a week of state testing that your child cannot miss, book out.  Mom perspective now:  “We haven’t been busy with work much lately, so we don’t book out and just chance it.”  We’ve allllll done this.  And most of the time it works out just fine – we get where we need to be.  But it will never fail that the ONE TIME YOU DIDN’T BOOK OUT, a casting or job will come and…what are you going to do?  Your agent needs to know if you are available or NOT.  You can’t get a casting today for tomorrow at 3:00 and say you can’t pull your kid from school.  Remember, you’ve accepted your child will be missing school and you should be ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Once an agent has to go back and tell casting your kid cannot make it, it’s a real drag.  Sure, we know things are going to come up.  Especially in the winter, kids get sick left and right or weather takes a sudden turn for the worse, but these occurrences must be the exception and not the rule.

The school district itself is an important piece in this puzzle.  Some districts are very content to allow the absences, especially when the parent makes every effort to keep the transitions in and out of the classroom as smooth as possible.  The less you show up on the radar, the better.  This goes back to the whole how-you-handle-it thing.  I would say that districts closer to the hub of NYC are probably more understanding.  (Disclaimer: I can only offer advice for the NY market.  I have no idea how things work in other markets!)  The farther you get from the city, the harder it is, both because the districts may never have had industry kids or just the sheer challenge of distance.  More on that in a bit.  But you need to know that there are state laws about absences and how they are excused and how many are allowed.  For example, Connecticut (where I live) allows ten unexcused absences.  Modeling and a lot of one-day acting projects – in general – are going to fall into that category.  An absence can be excused by the district for some sort of amazing cultural learning opportunity, and I pulled that card when my daughter missed a day to shoot a pilot with a director who had just won an Oscar the year before.  (Side note: the pilot was not picked up, so…yeah.  But cool experience!)  But literally, that’s the kind of “reach” it has to be – and it’s up to the Superintendent’s discretion, so you can’t really play that extreme cultural opportunity card to go shoot for a toy catalog.  Illness, however, can be excused, so every time your child is legitimately ill, be sure to document that specifically in your own records or get a doctor’s note – that way, none of those illnesses will cut into those magic ten absences.

Now here’s some inside scoop (teacher perspective).  I learned that it’s very difficult for a district to deny a child credit or advancement if they don’t have a regular practice of doing it.  So, let’s say your child had 18 unexcused absences from working.  The school threatens to deny your child credit for the year.  If your district has a no history of doing this for children (here’s the catch: educational records are PRIVATE and you would have almost no way of knowing how it handles other kids’ absences), it would be very difficult to suddenly “make an example” of a child.  If your district is always a fascist about this, you have very little recourse.  But it’s a Catch-22: you don’t know what they usually do, so you need to play your cards right.  However, if you missed more than the limit last year and they suddenly change their tune, you kind of know how they handled it last year and maybe you don’t have to worry as much.  Here again is why it’s important to keep on top of the work and keep the communication open: if your child is doing well, it’s harder to initiate these types of clamp-downs on kids.  Beware, though, that with all of the electronic record-keeping that schools do, there may be an automatic letter or phone call from the social worker when absences get near the limit.  And yes, we have received both.  How did I handle it?  First, I knew the letter was automatic and required by law that they notify me…so I didn’t specifically respond.  Absences noted.  Thank you.  When I got the phone call, I thanked the social worker for the update and assured her I was aware of the situation, promised to provide documentation for the excused absences, and make sure my daughter was doing well.  And that’s all I had to say – there was no grand inquisition.  In fact, in a later and unrelated conversation with the social worker, I joked that the whole conversation sounded like she was reading from a script.  She admitted that, essentially, she was running down a list of things she was required to say.  So don’t take it personally – let the school do what they need to do, and graciously thank them for their concern and remind them that you always want a good partnership between home and school.

Am I saying to suck up?  Yes, I am telling you to suck up.  You’re causing them more work (for both the classroom teacher and the administration) and you need to think of it from their perspective: this is a pain in the neck for them.  They probably have some really annoying and ugly conversations with parents, and I’m willing to bet that person who called you dreaded getting on the phone with parents.  Not everyone is as nice as you are!

Why do schools care so much – don’t parents always know better when it comes to these decisions?  Well, first, their job is to educate your child to the best of their ability, and they want to do it well.  Next, schools are actually rated and judged – by the state and federal government – on attendance rates.  I’m not entirely sure about the funding being based on attendance rates; I think it’s true but I’m not entirely sure how that works on a day-by-day basis.  Usually the attendance rate on one specific day is requested by the government, and the school must report the attendance percentage.  If that number is low in relation to similar schools or the state/national average, it can mean penalties for the school in terms of reporting requirements or future funding.  Remember No Child Left Behind?  I honestly have no clue how much of that law is still intact, but that single attendance statistic was something upon which a school could be deemed “failing.”

The next question I often get is, “Should I lie and say my kid is sick?”  No.  Don’t lie.  I say my child has an appointment.  If they ask, I say it’s a casting or a shoot.  Lying will only bite you in the butt in the long run.  You don’t need to divulge all the gory details, but they will ultimately end up knowing why your kid was absent.  And as a matter of moral and ethical principle, I don’t think you should put your child in a position of having to lie.  If someone asks your kid where he/she was yesterday and you tell your kid to lie…?  No.  Just don’t.

And another “what if”:  What if your child suddenly isn’t doing well and the school is saying the absences are having an effect or your kiddo’s performance?  For heaven’s sake, pull your kid from modeling and performing.  Contact the agency.  Book out until further notice.  Reconsider when the performance has improved.  Period.  This is not debatable in my mind.  There is no argument that modeling/performing can be a better experience than performing well in school.  Can it be an excellent experience for a child in addition to strong school performance?  Yes.  But in place of?  NO WAY.

I’ll come in now from the agent perspective.  Is it realistic to tell the agency you can only make castings and bookings after school?  Not really.  Castings for school-age children DO tend to start at 3:00, and I think that is pretty standard.  Here’s where distance comes in: if you live far from the city, like we do, most castings require an early dismissal.  I’ve taken that on and accept it as part of the business, just like the absences.  Do I think it’s fair to refuse a random casting that does pop up smack in the middle of a school day?  Yes, I think that’s reasonable because it’s rare enough that it won’t make a huge dent in the big picture of casting.  I would not bite your head off.  As an agent, I would ask casting that my school-age kids be scheduled after 3:00 pm, and hope for the best.  But can you request that bookings only be after school?  No.  Bookings occur during regular business hours, and that’s why you are in the business – to work according the standard operating procedures of the industry.  There’s no way of knowing the exact time your child will shoot when he or she is submitted (sometimes months) in advance of a shoot.  If I know that you are unavailable until 3:00, I probably cannot chance getting you booked for a 10:00 am shoot in four weeks – and knowing I would have to decline the booking with the client.  Bookings are the grand prize in this business, and we have to do everything possible to secure them – not risk losing them.  There are some clients out there who are somewhat mindful of school and may schedule older kids later in the day so they can get in some school, BUT – big picture – they schedule the kids according to what makes the most sense to production’s schedule.

I’m going to circle back to my big advice here.  Be gracious, be sweet, and work your tail off to keep your kid on track for doing well.  Obviously if you get a long booking or are going to be working on a major on-camera project, the whole game changes.  There will be set teachers and state and union requirements for daily school work, and that’s a different story.  I hope I addressed the overall concern about occasional work-related school absences from my multiple perspectives...let me know if you need any more info!

As always, follow my Bizzy Mama facebook page where I announce new posts, feel free to respond on Backstage, shoot me an email at, or check out my silly pet and family pics on IG @thebizzymama.  I work for Take 3 Talent now, so you can check out their website at for more agency info.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Should my child do...freebies?

Ok.  Deeeep breath.  I’ve been threatening to do this one for a long time…and I think it’s finally time.  For a couple of reasons.  More on that to come.

It’s the freebie blog post.

I’m not touching Pay-to-Work here – see my posts from last year for that.  This is all about working for free…or for trade (goods/products).  I have heard a range of opinions on this.  And by range, I mean parents, agents, photographers, designers, etc.  It is not a topic many people are ambivalent about.  I will say this: you know whose opinion I really haven’t heard?  The kids’.  I really haven’t asked any kids how it feels to work for free.  So, I’m going to try to take the kids’ position in this.  (But realistically, we know that involves a large dose of parent as well.)

Here goes:

Should my child work for free?

Let’s just do a quick disclaimer: I’m not going to be a hypocrite.  We have done them.  I am not even going to say 100% never will we do one again, because there may be some circumstances (which I will explain) where an unpaid job might be a good move.  But I’m going to say, at this point in our career and lives: no, we won’t do unpaid jobs.

Now, there is a lot of grey area when we start thinking about what, exactly, is a job.  If your friend designs toys and they want to do a photoshoot for their Etsy page, is that something you should say no to?  You probably think it’s a no-brainer – why not?!?  It’s your friend!  Of course you would volunteer your kid!  And if you say no, you’re being a douche, right?  Well…if your child is a professional model, is it ok for a friend to use your kid for his or her professional abilities for free?  Here are some ways to think about this, and I’ll let you decide for yourself.  If you are a physician, and your friend has every symptom of strep on a Sunday and just can’t deal with the walk-in, would you write a Rx?  What about when your friend throws out his back and just wants a few Oxy?  And next week it’s happening again.  OK, so maybe that is an extreme example.  It’s your friend, and that was a big jump there with that analogy.  Now you’re a plumber, and your friend’s sink is clogged on a holiday.  Happy to help.  Now your friend is adding on a couple of rooms, and is asking you for a week’s worth of free work because you’re friends, after all…you’d be saying no to paid work that week, and it would be a week without any earnings…not just a week when you’d be home hanging out.  Or maybe it IS a week when you’d be home hanging out.  Slow period; why not help?  But your friend across town now knows you did that huge free job for one pal, why not him too?

Self-employed people and professionals with special skills (electricians, mechanics, lawyers, accountants) GET this.  They know what it’s like to be asked all the time for stuff for free/favors/etc.  And I’m going to do it – here it comes – photographers know what this is like.  Everyone who knows you wants a deal, a break, a discount…and those professional and personal lines get blurred real fast.

Have I asked my physician friends a quick medical question?  Sure.  Have I asked my attorney friends a quick legal question?  Yup.  Here’s where I draw the line and where the line should be drawn: if I need treatment or expertise for which that person would ordinarily be compensated, I probably wouldn’t ask.  And if I did?  I would offer to compensate appropriately.  I would show that person that I place a value on their services.  It is THEN up to that person to say no, we’re buddies – I got ya this time.

Why, suddenly, are children out of the whole equation in their professional capacity and their need to be valued for actual work they perform?

Hey, mom: I’m looking at you.  Is this kid at the photo shoot for YOU or for the kid? 

I am just as guilty of this as anyone else.  Yes, I have brought my daughter to photo shoots because I wanted the photos.  I wanted the experience; I wanted to see the pictures; I liked the photographer; I wanted to hang out with other moms; what have you.  Now, however, my daughter sees modeling as work.  And she knows she gets paid, and pretty much does it because it’s a fairly fun way to make money.  (Our big issue now is the commute – when she was little and could be entertained with an iPhone for the whole time, it was no biggy.  Now that car time means missing playtime in the neighborhood and all that good stuff.  But if she wants money toward something, she knows she has the option to actually work.)

The types of shoots I am talking about are shoots that are usually done for emerging designers, who may want to show their garments at a trade show, and want a look book or some magazine ads to promote their brand.  In many cases, these emerging designers are working on a tight budget.  I am not going to pretend that these are people sitting on piles of money just to deprive small children of a pittance.  (Although those designers do exist, and there comes a time when you’re doing well enough to pay – so do it.)

I can assure you – however – in most cases, those photographers are getting paid.  So the studio gets the fair going rate, the photographer gets the fair going rate, the hair/makeup person gets the fair going rate.  Your kid?  Well, there’s no shortage of people willing to work for free, so there is really no demand to pay the kids.  You see this on Facebook all. The.  Time.  Photographers and stylists hold Facebook castings, where they post what they are looking for and parents post a pic and info about their kid in the comments.  The client/designer looks through the comments and picks the kids they like based on the photos and info.  Casting: done.

Now, there are photographers and stylists out there in facebook-land that I happen to like very much who do this.  They know how I feel and I respect their position.  For the most part, they believe that everyone in the equation should benefit: meaning, if everyone gets some kind of good compensation, whether it be money, products, or photos, it can be fair all around.  And for the parents who do freebies, I think this is where they fall on the continuum.  They get the dress or the shoes or whatever, and their kid gets some photos and experience, and they go merrily on their way home.

Re-read what I wrote above about the plumbers and the physicians.

In New York and California, child modeling and performing are regulated by labor laws and, as such, there are rights, responsibilities and protections that must be integrated into the working conditions and payment structure.  For example, in New York, 15% of the child’s gross earnings need to be deposited into a trust account, and children must have a permit signed off on by their physician and school official.  The law doesn’t specify whether a job is paid or not – so these requirements apply to ALL child modeling.  If you your child is doing a freebie job or getting paid in clothes, what are you going to deposit?  How is your principal (who signed off on that permit) going to feel about your child missing school for – essentially – for doing a favor for a designer (whom you probably never met before).

Maybe I’m coming down a little strong on this.  So now I will offer you a couple of scenarios when doing a freebie or an unpaid job may not be the worst idea in the world.

Your agent might recommend one.  Test shoots or editorial work may be opportunities with top industry photographers that could truly benefit your child.  An agent may set up a test shoot for you to get photos for your submissions, and you won’t pay/get paid but you will get actual value added to your marketability.  Some agencies do this for older kids just starting out who may need more than a snapshot for submissions, while babies and younger kids can get along for a while with great snapshots until they have tearsheets for submissions.  An agent may recommend your child for an editorial shoot, which is when a top-tier photographer borrows clothes for a creative shoot (using the photographer’s and stylist’s visions, as opposed to the client’s vision on a paid shoot) to be submitted for magazine publication – and here, the quality of the magazine matters.  The types of shoots that could benefit your child in this case would be publications like Babiekins, Vogue Bambini, or La Petite – essentially advertiser (not purchase-price) supported publications that are available from news or booksellers.  High quality industry stuff.  This is not to say all agents support this – it depends on the agent, so it might be handy to know your agent’s opinion on this.  Some editorial work is actually paid – but it’s a very low rate.  Parent-centered magazines pay less than $100/hour, but they are usually great photos so agents work with them.  My daughter once did a shoot for Elle Italia kids’ edition, and it paid something like $150/day for a full on-location day.

It may be worth it to do one or two freebies early in your career to get a couple of good tearsheets to use for submissions – but this is REALLY risky.  And here’s why.  If the photographer is unknown in the industry, or not one that agents particularly enjoy, even getting payment “in photos” is useless to your child’s career.  If the photos aren’t useful, you can’t say the same things I hear over and over: “it’s to build the portfolio / gain exposure / etc.”  Your agent may not want to use or see those photos at all.  If the photos themselves are good quality, the clothing or styling may be wrong for your child’s look – and again, useless for submissions.  Just because your child is modeling something does not make the work professional model-quality.  AND, if those photos end up “out there” on social media or at trade shows, they might actually make your child less marketable if they turn out badly.  (And frankly, this is a risk you take that you will only realize once the photos are released!)

Maybe you don’t have an agent and this is your only way to model.  Well, go back to what I’ve written above.  The photos could be useless, there are labor regulations for any kid working (represented or not) and you are assuming all of those same negative outcomes regardless.

Designers and photographers aren’t going to like this post – and I’m sorry, but I am not here to defend your interests.  This is about the kids.  Would a professional photographer do a shoot for a designer in exchange for several garments?  Highly doubtful.  If a designer has a low budget, consider whether you can afford live models at this phase in your career.  You can hire a great photographer to photograph your clothes without kids.  Or, you can come up with a nominal affordable fee (try $100/hr), hire 2 or 3 kids, and make the shoot as efficient as possible: two hours.  (It’s no coincidence that freebie shoots often go on forever: there is no imperative to stay on a by-the-hour model budget!) Don’t do it on a weekday and expect kids to miss school for your shoot.  Have every bit of styling drawn out ahead of time, ask the kids to come with their hair the way you want it, and skip any makeup or grand concepts.  Back to my analogies from before: I am not going to budget and plan for a new kitchen with all sorts of changes in lighting and electrical placement but begin the project with no line item for the electrician because I will get someone to do it free “for experience.”

Parents, take this advice to heart.  Really think about the value of your kid’s time.  (And yours, since you are always the unpaid escort.)  I honestly think it will be more valuable for your child’s self-worth and esteem in the long run to have placed importance and value on your kid’s time than having a few modeling pictures in a box under your bed in ten years.

Photographers, you don’t work for free and you have the power to advocate for these models.

Designers, work within your means.  Place a value on what you need to get ahead.  Don’t do it on the backs of kids just because they are kids and cannot advocate for themselves.  (Parents: advocate for your kids.)

Agents, counsel your talent.  Let them know what your expectations are about this type of work and explain your policy and position.  Explain your role as a protector of the best interest of the child, and how their work needs the oversight you provide.

I saw this posted on a photographer’s Instagram last night, and I thought I would share it here.  A LOT goes into their work, and really, you put a LOT into raising your child.  Demand what is right.  You advocate for your kid in so many ways – why not this one?

On another note, the timing of this is pretty good since it’s likely to be my last post as “just” an industry mom.  I’ll be crossing over to the other side soon – the agency side – so I look forward to wearing a new hat in this crazy, exciting business.  Hope to run into you there!  But, as always, I will never stop being an advocate for what’s best for kids.  You can count on hearing from me about that!

Ok, so let the flood gates open.  I’m sure I’ll hear a lot about this.  Comment here, but if you want to discuss more, I’ll post on the Bizzy Mama facebook page and on the Backstage Forum.