Ask the Experts: Working with Child Photographers

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Behind the Lens: Finding and Working with Professional Child Photographers

We’re kicking off a new series of interviews to provide insights from trusted professionals in the child talent business, brought to you by Donnella Tilery, a CuteKid Judge & New Jersey Fashion Week Producer & Founder.

donnella tilery Q&A

In the first edition, Donnella interviewed another Cute Kid judge, Wai Ng, one of America’s best child model photographers who has been the creative mind behind editorial shoots for brands like the NBA, Macy’s, Sports Insight Magazine, American Baby Magazine, and more. Most importantly, he has photographed several CuteKid of the Year winners!

In this interview, you’ll learn all about the DOs and DON’Ts of working with a child photographer.

What is a common misconception parents have about hiring a photographer?

If a photographer can shoot adults, it’s not always the case that they can also shoot kids. It takes passion, skill, and a very pleasant and personable demeanor to get through a long day of shooting.

SOME modeling agencies and/or agents may receive a kickback for recommending photographers so you may be paying less if you contact the photographer yourself. 

Don’t just take anyone‘s word for it. Do you homework and ask around⁠—including other parents to get recommendations, as well as look at and check their photography website. Even take the time to google the photographer’s online history, and verify their information with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). After all the fun and games, parents should remember, modeling is still a serious business.

What are 1-2 basic rules of etiquette that parents should remember during their child’s photo shoot?

Keep your eyes on your kids at all times so they are not running wild. It only takes less than a second for a young child to pick up any sharp object. Especially if they are young, placing items in their mouth or accidentally putting their little wet fingers in the studio’s electrical outlet. To keep the distractions at a minimum, try not to bring a bunch of friends and family to the shoot. Only one extra person may be useful as extra hands/someone to help with your kids and or personal belongings. 

Please stay in the building and better yet, near the sitting area at the studio; the photographer may call on you if they need any onset help with your child.

What about posting the photos or images on your private or public social media?

Get an “OK” before you post any images from the day of the shoot. Thats including selfies with the client’s wardrobes on, because the wardrobes may be shot for a magazine for their upcoming issues and/or next upcoming season. The clothing designer or brand may want to keep their new line of clothing under wraps due to business reasons. Designers’ collections are copied all the time, and it’s imperative for them to keep the shoot confidential before the buying season arrives and before the children’s apparel trade shows for buyers.  

What are the signs to look for with a credible or “good” photographer?

A good child photographer should have a good amount of kid photography on their website and/or portfolio, they should be easy to work with on set, and love working with kids of ALL ages. They will never yell at the kids, as unfortunately I’ve seen and heard from parents that has happened! 

Wai ng child photography sample

If people wanted to contact you, what is the best way to reach out to you?

Text or call (Do leave a message or their number will get blocked). I receive many business and sales calls a day and will block any unknown calls.

Are there benefits for a child/teen model to work on a pro bono or non-paid photoshoot?

YES, pro bono shoots are ideal for fundraising events, a personal book and/or gallery show projects and to build an updated portfolio, especially for newbies. Even seasoned professional models work with good photographer without pay but will get image files for their agency as well as for their portfolio.

And there you have it! Some amazing advice from CuteKid judges on how to work with a child photographer! Have any more questions? Leave a comment below!


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