So you wanna be a model?

by Amy Shearer, Journal Modiste

I think one of the questions I get asked the most is "How do I get my child into modeling on eBay?" The answer is not an easy one nor should it be. There is a lot to consider before committing your child to the eBay modeling world.

Know thy camera

Do you have the skills to be a great photographer? Photographers are made not born. Sure really good photographers have an "eye" for proportions and details but they also know how to work their camera. Do you know how to work your camera in different situations, indoor and outdoors? You don't have to have the best camera in order to take crystal clear pictures. You do however need to know how the different settings on your camera work.

Know basic things like what is exposure compensation, when to use the flash and when not, lighting techniques and tricks, proportions, aperture and shutter controls .(Although many of the newer digital camera do not require you to set aperture and shutter controls, understanding how these controls work can help you shoot quality pictures.) Read your camera's manual. Read books on taking great pictures. Search the internet for tips and tricks. Join a photography message board. Do not be content to "point and shoot". Just because you own a camera does not mean you are a good photographer. Just because you have a cute kid, doesn't make them a good model.

Value your time

So you have an adorable child. So do I, 5 of them in fact. Before you offer your child as a model on eBay you need to evaluate your motives for wanting to do it. Do you want your child to be famous? Do you want free clothes? Do you love photography? You want in on the hot new trend? If you are in it for the wrong reasons, designers will sense your desperation and run.

You also need to consider the disposition of your child. Do they like getting their picture taken? If they don't, that will show up on camera. They need to be able to have fun. You won't want to give your designer pictures of your child frowning.

Ask any of the popular models and their moms would tell you, this is a time consuming job. Very time consuming if you do it right.

Shannon Stewart of Madison*Ave*Boutique shares her routine when her daughter Madison models outfits. "When I get a package in the mail Madison and I always open it together so we can squeal like two little girls on Christmas!! LOL My first thoughts are always “what shoes will match” so I run off to her drawer full of shoes and pick the perfect pair and then I work on choosing a hair accessory."

"I typically model a set within 2 days of receiving it, I iron if needed and bathe Madison right before the shoot. The typical routine takes about 30 minutes to prepare for the shoot. A typical on location photo shoot lasts about 30 minutes to 1 hour," continues Stewart.

If you don't happen to have matching accessories, then you must purchase them (money out of your pocket). Then you must wait for a nice day to take pictures outside or set up your studio if you take them inside. Decide on some great props. Take tons of pictures (at least 50-200). Download the pictures from your camera and go through each and every one of them (takes about 2 hours). Pick out the top 5-10 and either edit them yourself or get them in a format to email to the designer. Hopefully the pictures you send over are what they were thinking of so you don't have to take them again. And all this to keep the outfit or a earn a small monetary compensation. Even if you sell the outfit for $50 you are not making a very good wage for the 2-5 hours you spent taking the pictures. You have to love it.

Carrie Steffe, of emaphotography.com, is a well known photographer on eBay. She reveals her motivation.

"Why do I do this? Well I do this for a business and I'm not gonna lie. I didn't start out with this intent of having my kids be super stars or something and I still have no interest in that- after all, they are just children. I started doing photos for someone and then all of a sudden I was getting contacted by others and so on and so on....All of a sudden it turned into a business and went hand and hand with my own personal photography development. Its just that simple. I didn't look for it, it just happened.

I DO truly love photography. Which is why the bulk of my time is spent on Photography boards learning about techniques from experts in this field. Two of my daughters model for a Greggy Girl which is a National well known company. Yes, its exciting that they are on web sites and in magazine ads. But to be honest, its also a reflection on my hard work as a photographer that I like the best. And if we weren't getting compensated for any photos we do then I wouldn't be doing it as I try to instill in my children how valuable their time is." says Steffe.

If you really want to make this your business, then treat it as a business. Make your time valuable. Decide on what type of compensation you want. Do you want to keep the outfit? Do you want money for your pictures?

Don't spam

One thing you must never do is contact designers and offer your photography skills. Do you like telemarketers contacting you? I don't care if you are a phenomenal photographer and their pictures are horrible, don't do it. If you contact them through eBay and they are ticked off enough, they can report you and you could get suspended.

So you ask "if I can't solicit, then how do I get noticed?" There are a couple of different ways to get noticed. You can buy some outfits, jewelry or bows from some designers, take pictures of your child wearing it and send them to the designer to use for their web site or About Me pages. If they like them enough, you may be contacted. But remember to not offer your photography services when you send the pictures. Trust me, they will contact you if they are looking for a model.

"I started modeling Madison in my own boutique items when she was 6 months old, we were doing hair flowers and jewelry. Patrice (of Mamapatrice) gave me my first “job” modeling a pair of overalls for her, Madison was only 7 months old and couldn't’t even stand! But she took the chance and we started working together regularly, which in turn lead to other designers approaching us for modeling services," explains Stewart.

Occasionally designers will hold model searches, this is a great time to show off your talent without soliciting. Enter them!

You can join some of the eBay designers group message boards** and post pictures of your children from time to time, either wearing boutique or not. But keep it low key. You don't want to seem desperate and you shouldn't be. If you child never models for a designer on eBay, they will not be missing out or be scarred for life.

Did you model eBay boutique? No? Well you turned out fine, didn't you? ;)

So I guess what I am saying is really think about this carefully before volunteering your child for modeling. If you decide to go ahead and take the plunge, do it right, show some great photos and help out the designers who need good models. Otherwise you are wasting your child's time, your time and the designer's time.

**Here are some links to the message boards referenced:

Lost your Camera Manual? Check out the manufacturer sites to find one.

©2006 Journal Modiste. May not be reproduced without express written consent.

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