How do you get kids started in modeling or commercials?


My girls got into modeling and commercials when my eldest daughter Chloe was 3 and Ella was 6 months. I had been stopped by a photographer on the street who referred us to our agent. I took Chloe on her first audition for Gap and she booked it. From there they have gone on to work on dozens of large national campaigns for television and print.

I get asked a lot by parents how to get their kids started in modeling, so I thought I would do a series of posts on the subject.

The first question to ask is not “How do I get my child started?” The first question is “Are modeling and commercials right for my child?”

Modeling and doing commercials is fun, but it is also work. It is not fun at all if your child does not enjoy it. I learned that Ella did not like it at all and her work permit (the paper from the city of San Francisco that allows her to miss school to do jobs) has long expired.

child modeling

child modeling

Here are some qualities in children that may work for this industry. Cuteness and beauty are not the main factors.

Instructed on set for Hanna Andersson to "make a face"

Instructed on set for Hanna Andersson to “make a face”


-Can your child easily follow directions? Are they happy to please? Do they respond to praise and positive control? Those are all musts. Your child will be working with adults. Most of these adults are very kind and do realize they are working with a CHILD, however your child must be able to follow directions and behave. This is a business and they need to get the shot in the timeframe they have allotted.


FLEXIBLE -At auditions and while on set there is a lot of waiting time followed by intense activity or vice versa. Can your child adapt to that easily? Can you?

"stand by that ruler and look cute"

“stand by that ruler and look cute” (or totally crazy if you are the mom dressed in all black)


-Your children will be working with strangers most of the time. Are they shy? If so, it won’t work. It’s best if your child easily opens up to people.


-You may not find out about jobs or auditions until the afternoon before. Soccer practice, dance, swim lessons, is your child flexible on these things? We have turned down some things because Chloe has gotten more involved in dance, art and athletics after school but you can’t turn down every audition so something’s gotta give.


-Of course cuteness plays a big role in booking jobs, but it is not everything. A lot of it has to do with the personality of the child and how they will interact with the people who pick the talent for their project. Chloe has charmed more directors and photographers than I can count. Ella is incredibly photogenic but would just frown.

The next question:


Where are the casting offices in your area? Close? Far? Are you willing to drive there? For me the casting offices are 10 minutes away. I don’t have a life that would allow me to drive an hour each way to audition. Do you have the availability to take them to auditions and bookings? Are you ok with your child’s face or image being used in advertising? These are all questions to ask yourself.

The income Chloe has made from modeling has been pretty good. There have been some years where between, me managing the girls and booking my own work we have made a substantial contribution towards family expenses and saved a lot for college, however one child working does not produce that much money unless they are working large national commercials. Chloe’s first job paid $260. That seems like a lot, but that was about 8 hours of work for me just on that one job. You may be thinking, “ok, ok sorry I asked, it sounds awful”. Well it can be if it’s not right for you or your child. It can be a stressful tear inducing pain in the ass.

A shoot with Marcy Maloy

Phoebe on a shoot with Marcy Maloy


-Chloe loves it. It is something she is very proud of. She has learned to work with all types of people, follow directions and has a better work ethic than many grown ups I know. It has not affected her emotionally or made her vain. She has not missed a large amount of school either.

- The creative process can be amazing to watch. Working with artists, photographers, stylists and all types of different people has been very rewarding. I have learned so much these past 5 years.

- It’s fun. Chloe and I have fun when we are on sets together. We have fun when we go to auditions.

- You may be able to get some really great images of your kids. I have the most amazing shots of my children from their various projects over the years. You will not be able to get everything, but you can get some.

how to get your kids into modeling

This was a fun shoot for Shutterfly with Stephanie Rausser. Chloe was on set for a long time and I am always amazed by her ability to do the same thing over and over and over and over.

Feel free to connect with me on Instagram and Facebook!

I am sure there are some other things I am forgetting so be sure to ask me any questions you may have about the area in the comments below or over on my social networks. I will answer them or do a blog post on the subject of the question.

Top photo by Richard Schultz 

Here is the next post on How to Find and Submit to Agencies.

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43 responses

    • Ha! Yes, just like I picked your brain on how to start a blog. I owe you! Ask away as soon as that little cutie pie pops out.

  1. Excellent, excellent write-up. What you said about ensuring that modeling is not only right for you, but right for your kids as well is SPOT ON. You have no idea how many times I’ve been told that I need to get my daughter to a modeling agency. And personally, I’ve had no interest. She loves being outdoors, loves running and doing all of the silliness that kids will do, but does not model for the sake of modeling. I have a feeling she’d be more like your Ella – absurdly photogenic but just not right for the work of modeling.

    I do think that some parents want to get their kids into modeling just for the validation by others that their kids are cute – not because it’s really right for them or their kids.

  2. great info. Been in the business with my two kids for over 7 years. It’s an up down business and it’s all about timing and what is needed. My son gets more auditions and bookings than my daughter. She’s very photogenic, but have been told that she is “too pretty for commercials” I sadly live in an area where I’m willing to drive 2-5 hrs for an audition because they love what they do. And it’s true, following directions is such a must not only for print work but even if you’re child ventures into more commercials and into film. Parents also need to know that if their child wears certain sizes, fit modeling is another great avenue. My son had done a lot of fit modeling this past year. It’s so fun and I love seeing him work.

  3. Really enjoyed this! Great info and viewpoint. I love that you continued to pursue it with Chloe, but didn’t push it with Ella when it wasn’t her thing.

  4. Well written. I’ve always wondered how it all happens, and the process. Jeremy loves the camera, but on his own terms. :-)

  5. wondering why you would never drive an hr to an audition? We drive 2 hours and just booked PB kids-well worth it!!

    • Wow! Congrats on your booking! That is wonderful. I think the driving would just be too much for me personally and a factor to consider when getting into doing auditions. (Time commitment, patience for traffic, etc)

  6. Great article on pros and cons. My daughter is 4 & has booked a couple minor jobs. She complains on her commute however once shes auditioning shes fine most of the time. I have a question: process is audition, callback, hold, booking. do u have insight on what goes on behind the scenes for each level? audition call i believe is based in child pics which is selected by client…not sure on the avg # of callbacks (maybe it depends on job/client) or what the hold process is :/ ….thx!!

    • The first audition is based off your headshot, how past auditions have gone with that casting director and your agent.

      Sometimes jobs have call- backs where casting and the client have gone through the first auditions and choose people they feel fit the role to bring back in to audition again with the client there.

      Then they narrow it down even further to a handful of potential talent they will check-available or hold for the shoot dates. Usually 2-5 talent.

      Then they decide and you either book the job or get released from the hold.

      It’s kind of like a big narrowing down process.

  7. I for sure know my 4 years old is born for photography, unfortunately her mom is not the kind of mom who pushes her to where she most loves. My daughter loves to take pictures and loves to do the models actions I just don’t know where to start it from and I want her to do this only till she starts school. Her long term wish is to become a doctor and I will make sure that is fulfilled.

  8. Hello my daughter is 8yrs old .I want to try and get her into modelling but it’s expensive.also would oike the idea of adverts bit not sure ow to go about it.please help with some advice

    • It depends a little where you are located. To submit to an agency and go on auditions should not cost money. NEVER PAY MONEY TO JOIN AN AGENCY.

  9. Do you have any info for toddler modeling? Like 1 year and up? I’m not sure my son can understand the word ‘no’, let alone instructions :) but his dad, like all proud dad, think his son is cute enough to model. I see nothing wrong with getting information and want to give it a try. Thanks in advance for any information.

    • My girls started when they were toddlers and you never know how they will respond until they try it out. Give it a go. I think the best things to do are things you would normally do to keep your child happy and engaged like keeping them well rested and fed well. Good luck!!

  10. I would love to get my daughter into modeling. She is almost 14 months old. She is so active and loves the camera. Haha everyone always comments on her eyes. The biggest problem I have is I live in the middle of no where haha. Country. I’m not sure I could afford to start her in anything being a stay home mom.

  11. Great read! Love the info, my 16 month old loves the camera I would like to try her out for some commercials or modeling how can i start?

  12. My question is if my 2 year old daughter lands a commercial, who gets the money? I mean is it put in a trust fund? Or do the parents get the money?

    • 15% goes into a blocked account she will not have access to until she is 18. 10-20% goes to her agent. The rest depends on what you do with the funds.

      30 Child models are required for screening.
      7 of them will be selected to feature in a
      Disney Kids Commercial to be recorded
      on the UNITED NATIONS children’s day on 20th November
      If you think your child has what it takes, contact us:

  13. Great article, thanks so much! My 6 to just got called for her first interview and they require no money and just require you bring one good photo in for them to keep. The shoot is set for 3 days if you are chosen. My daughter is full of personality and a little distracted, but when she has been photographed by professioal photographers in studio and outdoors, they said she does great, so I’m hoping it will work out. What do they do in the first interview? ( this is a legitimate agency. – Modelogic- the girl that referred us has gotten bookings in NY, LA and Italy!)

  14. I was recently stopped on a New York City bus when I had my two grandchildren with me, both boys. The man who was a retired scout told me to send their photo’s into Nicholodian, since it seems they were looking for brothers about these boys ages which are 7 and 9. Both boys a good looking and have great personalities. How can I get started

  15. Hi could anyone help me on taking the first steps on getting my son into modelling he just needs someone to give him a chance to get started he really wants to start in a modeling career. Thanks

  16. Hi i live in the inland empire are do you know of any agents or a website i can check out even the Los Angeles area.

  17. contact:

    Do you have what it takes to make it in the modeling world, to strut the runaways of Milan, France, New York, iItaly? Does your child have the perfect smile to light up a room and should be new face of a baby product company, adverts, magazine, movies, commercials and many more, do you think have the perfect body to show the world?

    We are a team of professional recruiters, we specialize in the child modeling scene but our skills aren’t limited to that alone? we also do fashion, commercial, glamor, body part modeling and many more. We are affiliates of the IMG Models. We are known international and we guarantee a professional job offer within the first 3 months of registration


  18. It takes more than a pretty face and a slim figure to make it as a model,
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    30 Child models are required for screening.
    7 of them will be selected to feature in a
    Disney Kids Commercial to be recorded
    on the UNITED NATIONS children’s day on 20th November
    If you think your child has what it takes, contact us:

  20. I want to manage my 4 girls, and make all the decisions because they are kids, and I will definitely have the final say in everything, UT my question is if I were to sign them to an agency, will I still be their manager?

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