Chicago Baby Photography Blog

17 Dec 2014 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Atleast once a week I receive an e-mail from a parent asking how to get their child represented by a modeling agency here in Chicago. They’re unsure how to approach the agents and are often intimidated with that prospect. To be honest, the process nowadays is actually pretty simple and most agencies are pretty open about their signing procedures.

The first thing you want to do is gather a list of local agencies. In large cities such as Chicago, there’s no shortage of potential representation. From there, you’ll want to verify that the agencies actually have a kids/babies department. Often times, agencies only represent children above a certain age or don’t represent kids all together. Do your homework. After you’ve gathered that information, it’s just a matter of reading through and finding where/when the agencies are hosting open casting calls. Check their Facebook accounts, Twitter, etc. Today, agencies such as Lily’s Talent Agency here in Chicago allow potential applicants to submit their photos online.

One thing to note is that you should NEVER have to pay to have someone represent your child. Period.

Now with that all said I want to warn everybody here that getting your child signed to an agency isn’t the GOAL. It’s simply the beginning. Just because your child is signed doesn’t mean you can relax and just wait for the gigs to come in. Parents must always be diligent in finding work to boost their children’s portfolio (whether it be for pay or just credit). The kids that I see succeeding in this industry have parents doing a LOT of work to make that possible.

A few agencies here in Chicago that represent kids/babies:

Child Headshot Photographer

This is a question I’m hearing all the time and after looking around on the Internet, there’s a lot of conflicting reports on the subject.  Some places are saying you don’t while others swear up and down that it’s MANDATORY. To put it simply: Headshots usually aren’t REQUIRED, but I’d go as far to say they’re STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.  (Ages 4-5+)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Of course a photographer is going to say headshots are important! It’s his job!” The reality of the situation is that if you check out any child modeling agency, 99% of the talent featured will have a professional headshot of sort.  This is not a coincidence.   When you invest in your child’s headshot or comp card, you’re telling the casting directors and talent agencies that you’re serious about your kid’s involvement in the industry (ESPECIALLY when you’re first starting out and don’t have a portfolio to showcase).   While it’s certainly possible for your child to land gigs without professional photographs, presenting professional images to casting directors/talent agencies will help get your child noticed in an otherwise competitive field.  If a casting director has spent the last 5 hours browsing through 1000’s of pictures, getting him or her to take that extra second to notice your child is HUGE.  Furthermore, presenting AMAZING photographs to these people shows proof that your child is at least capable of producing something their clients could be proud of. For example: If your child was able to take an amazing photograph for a comp card, then he or she will be more likely to take an amazing photograph for a client.

So then how often should your child update his or her headshot? For adults, the industry standard is every two years.  For children (5-18ish), we recommend every year.  Because of this, we offer heavily discounted prices for children’s headshots.  For children younger than four,  we maintain that the best course of action is to simply book a normal family photography session.  Why? Because you’ll get the most bang for your buck (we charge for time in family photography sessions versus per look in our modeling packages).  Be sure to reach out and we’d be happy to send you a price list for the services we offer!

children's commercial photographer
Over the past couple months I’ve received a number of e-mails from clients asking if I had any tips for getting their child into modeling or acting. Since we’re just now introducing several photography packages geared towards building your little one’s portfolio, I’ve decided to go ahead and tackle a lot of these questions through a more public forum. The most common question I’m getting from all you parents as of late has been:  If my kid has expressed an interest in modeling (or alternatively: My baby/toddler is a totally awesome cutie pie that always has a smile on his face), where do I even start?

Do you reaaaalllly want this?

Before you do anything there are a few things parents need to consider. First, think to yourself: Do I really want to do this?  Yes, your baby or child is technically the one working and performing – but who do you think is the one going to all the auditions? Making all the phone calls? Getting all the headshots printed?  Finding an agent? Networking to find new gigs? Paying for classes? Certainly not your 6 month old!  All of this stuff is a serious time commitment so be sure you’re willing to put in the hours.

If you want to really take your child far, you essentially have to treat it as a second job.  If your child is a bit older and expresses an interest, parents should be disciplined in making sure their kids view their endeavors in a way that reflects most school-sponsored extracurricular activities (ie, baseball, cheerleading, gymnastics, etc). But unlike those programs where schools and park districts dictate the schedule and practice regiment, in the instance of having your child be a model or actress, you’re in charge of all of that.  Rehearsals, gigs, finding classes – you’re the coach that makes it all happen.

Evaluate the demographic and skillset that your child can bring to the table

Listen, every parent wants their kid to be the next Gerber baby or undiscovered Miley Cyrus.  The reality of the situation is that when you’re first starting out, it’s more about what demographic and niche roles your child can fill.  Most commercial projects have a predefined idea as to what they’re looking for before they start casting.  If your kid happens to be similar to what they were looking for, boom your kid has the job.  Does that mean your kid is cuter or more talented than the other kids who he/she beat out? No. Not necessarily.  Often times, it means your child represents the producers/photographer’s vision more accurately.

Things like this go beyond details such as  gender, race,  or haircolor, and extend into concepts such as  characters (devilish kids, innocent looking kids, smart looking kids,  goofy kids), emotions (grumpy kids, smiling kids, scared, crying) , or demeanor(more rock and roll or preppy/refined?).  Once you figure out which niche comes naturally to your child, develop a portfolio that supports it.  While the end-goal is to have your child represent as much of a variety in their look as possible, you must start small and expand.  To put it bluntly: A kid being used in a Gibson guitar ad is going to be different from a child in McDonald’s ad. Why?  Because Gibson represents American freedom and rebelliousness while McDonald’s attempt to represent clean (albeit unhealthy) family values and wholesomeness.   While your kid may have the talent to represent both equally well, chances are he or she naturally does one better than the other.   As I said before, figure out which markets/demographics your kid can represent and DEVELOP A PORTFOLIO THAT SUPPORTS IT!   (This will definitely be a topic of discussion down the road).

Don’t be crazy.

As I suggested before, the difference between your child landing and not landing an audition could often be contributed to factors outside of your control.  Sometimes the director or producers already have a look in mind and sometimes your kid just does not fit into that role.  Don’t get mad about the things you can’t control.  Move on.  Find a better audition next time.

Don’t be afraid to invest in the tools your child needs to progress in this industry.

While it’s certainly not required for parents to continuously be paying for new headshots or professional photos of any kind, take a moment to consider this point of view.  If you’re essentially pushing your child to take modeling as far as he/she can go (which you should be! Because what’s the point of doing anything if you’re not going to try your hardest!?), paying for a photography session for your child equates to investing in marketing material for a business.  If you’re the owner of a business, is spending anywhere between $500-$1000 per year on marketing reasonable?  Of course it is!  Even if you’d prefer to take a less-serious view towards

As a child model, their headshots and portfolio are almost always the ONLY marketing material they’ll ever have.  Investing a little to get some super special photos will a) show producers you and your child are serious and b) your child has atleast more experience than the child who only submitted normal pictures, and if the photos are REALLY awesome: c) could make the producers come back for a second look.  Also considering the costs of sporting equipment or instrument lessons (other extracurricular that come with sometimes high costs), making sure your child has a polished, up to date portfolio (even if we’re only talking 3-4 photos here) is akin to paying for violin lessons or sports camp.

Find your child an agent

Most agencies have forms to fill out on their website.  Find them via Google and fill out the forms/keep an eye out for open casting calls.

Honestly, the whole idea of approaching an agency may seem a bit intimidating to parents new to this, but for the most part they’re pretty accessible.  Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and be sure to follow up (even if they say not to – rules were meant to be broken! Go for it.  Just please, don’t be crazy.) Here’s a list of some local agencies in the Chicago area:

KIWI Talent

Ford Models

Lily’s Talent Agency

BMG Models

With the holidays finally done and over with, I’m happy to finally be able to get back into the swing of things.  I recently had the chance to photograph an amazing family up on the north end of the city in Edgewater.  Here were my faves:



This little man was always on the move.  I swear, he crawled at like 4-5mph, easily!




Awwwwwww.  Mr. Kitty doesn’t look too pleased – though I was amazed with his patience 🙂




The past few months have been absolutely insane.  In addition to  the usual holiday season explosion, I was working on the side to launch my own personal site to showcase the work that I felt wouldn’t really fit with the theme of Winston and Khan and who we are as a boutique family photography studio.  Introducing: Steven Kowalski Photography.  Now I know what many of you are thinking: Does this mean you’re abandoning Winston and Khan!?   No way!!  Winston and Khan will and always has been priority number one.  But that said, the reason for launching SKP does illustrate a shift in where I want to go as a photographer in 2013 and beyond.

The greatest benefit to taking on a huge number of clients is the experience gained with every shoot.  Because of the sheer volume of people I was able to shoot over the past 18 months, I have had the opportunity to get more experience in one year than most photographers receive in five. The result of this hard work is that  I’ve also been able to drastically improve on my post production abilities.   When you are touching up and adjusting 100’s to 1000’s of photos a week, you tend to get pretty comfortable behind the monitor.  To put it frank, however, I felt the need to flex my creative muscle a bit because retouching the same genre of photos over and over again can become slightly tedious.  The goal for 2013 is to take these skills to the next level and push myself alongside this studio towards the commercial and fashion side of this industry.

That said, nothing about Winston and Khan is changing as a result of this ambition to get more into the commercial side of baby photography.  Our pricing, packages, books, etc are not going up in price for our normal, everyday consumer.  In fact, the more commercial work that we’re able to land, the exact opposite may happen!

Bring on 2013!



19 Dec 2012 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: chicago baby photographer Tags:

As I’m sure many of you know, the style between newborn photography sessions at the studio versus on location can be wildly different.  Generally speaking, the trend for studio newborn photographers is to have the little one nuzzled up on some sort of bean bag while wearing funky clothes.  For some people, that’s not their thing so they opt to have the sessions done on location.  When that’s the case, you should usually expect more natural light photos that give off more of a candid vibe.  I recently traveled here in Chicago to take photos of an awesome family and their latest addition (with big sister too, of course :))

baby picture taker in chicago




IMG_3933 IMG_3999

Look at that giant yawn!


With the holidays around the corner, I’m getting a lot of last minute requests for Christmas photos (which by the way, it’s not too late to book your session for Christmas photos!). This last time, I had the opportunity to travel to Glenview to take photos of an awesome family with two little ones. Here were my favorite photos of the session: family-photographer-chicagoland

Attempting to get the attention of a toddler while a plane is overhead can prove to be quite difficult 🙂 Still – I love the awe in his face.

Big sister enjoyed herself on the swing for a little bit 🙂

The Glenview Metra stop had an awesome British-style phone booth.  If it were blue, I would have guessed I’m looking at a mini Dr. Who.

I seriously love this photo!! I mean, just look at that belly!  This cute kid is definitely going to be a heartbreaker one day.  Oh, and for those worry warts out there: don’t worry!  I actually had to photoshop one of the parents out of the photo as he was right there spotting the little fellow 🙂