Virtually every pageant system from natural, to "little miss" to full
southern glitz will require your child to have photographs for
photogenic competition. Some will require only head shots (a close
up picture of your child's face hair, neck and upper shoulders while
looking into the camera) while others will also require a portfolio (a
group of 5-10 or more pictures showing your child in a wide variety of
poses, settings and expressions). Some systems require natural,
modeling-agent type photos with little or no makeup. For other
systems, however, you will need a variety of color and B/W shots that
show various expressions and hairdos and which have been digitally
retouched to eliminate stray hairs, smooth lines, fill in eyelashes, etc.
It is very important to obtain the appropriate type of pictures for the
type of pageant systems in which your child is competing. You may
need to obtain more than one type of photograph if your child does
different types of systems since one type of photo will not score well in
another type of system.
Natural or Unretouched Head Shots
* These are pictures similar to those used at a modeling agency.
They will have subtle makeup (if any) with a simple hairstyle. Clothing
is usually a simple blouse or turtleneck top. Denim shirts photograph
very well in black and white. You should generally avoid white.
* You can find this type of photographer in many larger cities. Ask a
modeling agency who does their head shots. Many pageant
photographers will do this look as well and I even know some talented
moms with a good camera who get some awesome pictures on their
own. My daughter's first head shots were from her modeling agent's
photographer and her second set were taken by me. Both did very
well in natural and "little miss" systems.
* You can get B/W or color shots or some of both. One good picture
in each B/W and Color is probably sufficient. Make sure you get 8x10
or 8 1/2 x11. Some paperwork says you can use any size but it is
best not to use anything smaller or larger.
Pageant Head Shots
* These pictures are easy to recognize because they are unlike
anything in the world outside of pageants. (Glamour Shots are the
things they most closely resemble). They may be in B/W or color,
they have very stylized hair, clothing and accessories, elaborate
make-up (even on young children) and usually have digital retouching
that includes fully drawn eyelashes, smoothed face and lips, etc.
* There are many excellent pageant photographers out there and each
have their fans. Look around on the Internet at advertisements as well
as the entrants in photo contests to find the one you like the best. Try
to find one whose work meshes with your child's style. Certain
photographers seem to do more "sweet" looks while others do more
"high glamour" looks. You probably need to eventually have the work
of two different photographers since each does have a different style
and this can increase your photogenic score. I feel you score best
with four pictures by two different photographers, 2 B/W and 2 Color,
at least one smiling and one serious, perhaps one simpler hairstyle
and one more elaborate, one that is "different" (a hat, unique pose,
something that is daring or eye-catching).
* Put each of your child's photographs in its own individual heavy
plastic sleeve. You can buy these from pageant vendors or at
Collectors Card shops. Have extra so you can replace them when
they get scratched. You can also use a printed piece of paper on the
back of pictures with your child's name and age/division.
* You do need to start off with at least one awesome picture, however,
in order to be competitive in photogenic. You can use it a year or
more if it still looks like your child. I would avoid papering it all over the
Internet for that whole time however, because people will get really
tired of it and it will lose its appeal. You can then add a shot or two
later to "flesh out" your photogenic shots and increase your scores.
* Remember, to utilize your child's individuality in photographs. This is
what allows their personality to shine through! Are they cute as a
button, elegant, exotic or girl next door? You want to capture that in
the photo (and then try out one that is really different to see if you like
the contrast) You can incorporate some of the trends out there that
you see but don't copy someone else's pictures! It will invariably
backfire on you. We once had someone copy one of my daughter's
head shots down to duplicating clothing and hairstyle. They then had
the nerve to complain to us that theirs didn't do as well as ours. What
they didn't get is that judges scored ours (which usually received great
scores) and then saw theirs which was clearly not as good. (Copies
rarely ever are) It actually hurt their scores even more in the
comparison than if our picture wasn't there. (see the section on
Personal Stylin' to see why copying almost always hurts your scores).
* Make sure your child's face is clean for the shoot. Do not wear
makeup to the shoot. Wash the face with their usual soap and apply a
light, non hypoallergenic moisturizer if the face is dry.
Roll the hair prior to the shoot and bring the child with their hair in
rollers. See the section on Hair Stylin' for how to roll hair.
Bring a wide variety of clothing and accessories (a good rule of thumb
is 4-5 times the number of looks you plan to shoot) The photographer
and H/M person can help you decide what they think will shoot best.
Remember earrings, too!
Choose the best time of day for the shoot based on your individual
child (figure in time for you to roll the hair and travel time, too) Don't
schedule a 9:00 am shoot if you would have to get up at 5:00 am to
roll hair and drive there and your child doesn't really wake up until
10:00 am. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep the night before
and is fed before the shoot.
* Remember, a great photogenic picture is a good pageant
investment. This is the hidden competition which no one sees that
can make the difference between whether little Susie or little Dawn
takes the supreme. Back when my daughter first started pro am
modeling she sometimes took supremes over girls with much better
pro am because she had incredible pictures and could get enough
surplus points with the photogenic and beauty scores. There is really
no point in spending a lot of money entering supreme packages at
national pageants if you don't have good pictures. These days,
anyone can get a good picture because of all of the retouching (and
that is a whole different story) whereas, not so long ago, only the truly
photogenic child would have fabulous pictures. As the mother of a
not-so-photogenic child once told me, it is just sometimes the
difference between getting one good picture out of a roll and twelve
good pictures. But one is all you need.
* Think carefully when you get back that first set of proofs and spend
your money wisely. If you are like most people, you will be so thrilled
that you will order several pictures from one look. Resist this urge
unless you know you will use the other ones in the portfolio. Most of
the time when you get several pictures of the same look, you will
narrow it down to one "favorite" anyway and never use the others.
Eliminate from the proofs, (get a lot of opinions if you need to), only get
the best one retouched and save yourself some money.
Some Pageant Photographers Include:
Troy and Michael
The Power Company
Many pageants will allow a portfolio score to substitute for a lower
photogenic score. This may be a good reason to assemble a great
portfolio but here is one word of caution. Use your money wisely!! If
you have to choose between an awesome photogenic picture and no
portfolio and a mediocre photogenic pic and a so-so portfolio you
know which to pick, right? Remember, the photogenic pics also need
to go in the portfolio. If they are mediocre, they won't help your score
* You can assemble a portfolio over time using the same
photographer who does your head shots or a different one(s). A
variety of looks is required so it is good to use more than one
photographer. The same rules apply for natural(modeling) portfolios
and pageant(glamour) portfolios.
* You need head shots, 3/4 length (showing part of the body) and full
length shots. You also need a balance between B/W and color.
There are a lot of looks out there so do your research ahead of time to
make your time spent with the photographer most productive.
* Assemble a variety of outfits, accessories, props, etc. Try to avoid
those popular ones that are overdone. You also want to show a
variety of expressions, "looks" etc. so remember that these shouldn't
all be "glamour looks". Talk to your photographer for ideas. Here is
also a place you can cut costs. Many local photographers can shoot
good portfolios if you do the props, H/M, etc. and show them examples
of the things you want. Again, I know many talented moms and dads
who shoot their children's portfolios. You need creativity, a patient and
willing child, a good camera and, hopefully, a good computer package
such as Adobe and a good printer for best results. Many of the shots
in my daughter's portfolio were taken by me and they score well.
* Assemble the completed pictures in a good quality binder. Most use
the zippered ones with handles (although I do hear judges don't like all
of the zipping and unzipping). Definitely do not do a cutesy,
scrapbook type. There are those who swear to a certain order. Here
is the one that I have heard. Start with your best head shot and end
with your second best head shot. Alternate with B/W, color, 3/4 and
full length. Generally, place pictures so that they look "into" the middle
of the page. I will also include my modeling agent's advice - you are
only as good as your worst head shot. Therefore, do not include any
"less than great" pictures. It is better to have 10 awesome pictures
than to have 20 pictures where half are not very good. Many people
also like to include a "personality" head shot - one that you wouldn't
use for photogenic because it may be too "busy" or "zany". Again,
make sure all of the pictures are 8x10 or 8 1/2 x 11.
* Pay careful attention to the rules of the individual pageant. Some
limit the number of pictures that you can submit in a portfolio. Make
sure you eliminate the ones that you aren't using while at home before
you go so they won't get lost or damaged.