The finished product
Last week I got a call from our agency that Caleb was "on hold" for a Babies R Us (BRU) shoot for the following day. Being "on hold" means the client is interested in you but isn't sure if you are available for the shoot or if they will need you at all. Sometimes clients have the tendency to book more than one child or baby especially since kids can be sooo unpredictable. I confirmed that Caleb was available and went about my day. Although Caleb hadn't auditioned for this particular job, BRU has frequent open calls in which hundred of babies and kids attend for various projects.
The studio shoots not only store signage, marketing materials, photos for the website and mailers, but also email blasts and newsletters. Because of the sales and promotions that occur on a weekly basis as well as the seaonal changes in clothes and toys there is a steady flow of work available which requires keeping a lot of babies on file at a moments notice.
Around 6pm I got an email and phone call confirming that Caleb had indeed booked the job and was to show up at the studio at 9:30 am the following morning. This was Caleb's 3rd photo shoot with Babies R Us and the first as a toddler.
We arrived 10 minutes early and Caleb got his make up done almost immediately - just a little powder, lip balm and color for his cheeks. Then they tell us he needs to change into a white t-shirt - without getting make up on the shirt....so we manage to get him dressed in the cutest little rocker outfit without ruining anything. Caleb gets his instructions for when he goes on set - the baby wrangler comes out and tells him to jump and then to turn around. Caleb was full of energy and ready to go. He practiced his jumps and even had me follow along!
A few minutes later another cute little boy arrived. He and Caleb quickly connected and started sharing toys and playing with one another. A few minutes later however one of the stylist came out and said Caleb had to take off his outfit and give it to the little boy. They said that Caleb was going to shoot after him. Sigh....here we go.
So we tried again to get the only white shirt off of Caleb's head without rubbing off the make up. And Caleb tried to hang on to his energy...but as we inched closer to his nap time I began to worry. We'd been at the studio for almost an hour before Caleb was asked to get dressed for the 3rd time and go on set for his photos. At first he was having a good time with the wrangler and it didn't bother him that me and my mother had disappeared into the shadows. I could see the pictures with each flash of the camera appear on the monitor and Caleb looked great!
But after about 15- 20 frames it hit him he was "alone". Although he never moved, or spoke or cried, he slowly began to start frowning. I could tell this was going downhill fast so I asked permission to step on set. As soon as he saw me his eyes lit up and screamed "Mommy!" he ran to me and gave me a big hug. I asked him if he could take a few more pictures. He went back on set and took a couple more, but his focus was frazzled. The photographer said he'd gotten enough good ones and we were wrapped.
I was a little disappointed - not at Caleb, the other family, or the photos but the way in which the shoot had been handled altogether. They work with babies all day and they know the window of opportunity is so small - especially with toddlers-that you literally have to seize the moment!
At the end of the day - I realized that since Caleb had been called at the last minute that he was most likely the back up - just in case the other little boy didn't show, or was having an off day on set. And even though he'd arrived late, they decided to shoot him first anyway. But ultimately it was fine. Caleb got paid ($100) and he got two adorable pictures for his portfolio. Even if they don't use him for the email blast, (we will find out on 4/13/11) It was still a great opportunity.
One thing about the industry is that it is just as unpredictable as the kids and babies they photograph. You never know what is going to happen and you have to be prepared for anything. You have to manage your expectations and make sure you put your child first at all costs. That is truly the only thing that matters!