Everyone thinks their child is cute but could they be picture perfect? Mum of three Suzanne Baum, talks about the experience of putting two of her three boys into child modelling.
For us, it was an exciting new experience, some fun and a chance for my son to earn some pocket money.
Getting the gig to model for the John Lewis online catalogue was not very difficult. Rather than attend a casting, as is the usual method of securing a modelling job, Zack was offered it on the back of his portfolio photos meeting the needs of the client.His surfer boy looks, shaggy hair and laid back style made him the perfect candidate to model the spring boys wear range of shorts, T-shirts and hoodies.
I wasn't being a pushy mum - it was something Zack was keen to try.
There are lots of modelling agencies and, sadly, a number appear to scam the naïve or doting parent by charging significant upfront fees with no intention of offering any real modelling work.
Avoid any agency willing to represent any child just as long as the parents pay a registration fee and for professional photographs.
We opted for Scallywags, which has one of the best reputations in the industry. Zack was lucky to be chosen as Scallywags, apparently, receive over 200 new applications a week.
With hindsight, I think I should have done more to prepare Zack for the shoot. Still he appeared calm in front of the camera and John Lewis was happy with the results. Arriving at the South London studio after an hour's tube journey we were both surprised that it wasn't in the least bit glamorous.My cool pre-teen looked mortified as foundation was applied to his face (I'd forgotten to tell him about that!). He managed to maintain his composure when the make-up artist applied cover-up to some eczema on the backs of his knees - although he was giving me daggers through his floppy fringe.
The experience of being photographed was initially a lot of fun but I could see boredom setting in as he was asked to change clothes for the 10th time.
After being rejected from a number of castings over the next few months I realised I wasn't being fair on Zack, who was no longer enjoying schlepping into town and being scrutinised.
He had just moved from primary to secondary school and wanted to focus on his studies and new friends and was not really interested in modelling. This, together with the fact that he was hitting puberty and his body shape was changing, made me realise that modelling was not for him.
So why, after abandoning modelling with one child am I pursuing it all over again with my four year-old son Jake?
The difference is Jake is a lot younger and a born performer. I have just signed him up to Kitsch agency, which represents actors and performers as well as child models.
Jake has one photo shoot under his belt. Unlike his older brother, he is at an age where he is happy to smile on cue, be directed and spend lots of time in my company. He may prove to be perfect model material.
How long I would encourage modelling depends on whether he gets any work and, most importantly, if he enjoys it. I'm aware it won't be long before his baby teeth fall out and he demands his bobbed hairstyle cut.
I'm also under no illusion that he's going to earn mega bucks, travel and become famous; after all he's only four! In any case, as a working mum I don't have the time to chauffeur him around at a moment's notice.
As for my other son, he finds it absolutely hysterical that his brothers are models. He has no interest in following them and I can't blame him. It's got to be something you and your child desire and if it works it can prove rewarding and give your child confidence and work experience.
Zack may have decided that modelling is not for him but I still feel maternal pride when I see his cute smiling face pictures from the John Lewis website...especially now that he is turning into a hormonal grumpy teenager!
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