I can assure you that one of the biggest things authors worry about once their book is written is – the cover!! A good cover is a blessing – like winning the lottery. Lately, I think all the Harlequin Romance covers have been lovely but I was particularly thrilled when I saw the beautiful cover of The Bridesmaid’s Baby (on sale in UK and North America this month). I remember showing it to you here and receiving lovely comments from you. The hero and heroine are nice, but I think we all fell for the sweet little baby.
Imagine how excited I was when the baby’s mother contacted me telling me that she was excited, too, as this was her son’s first photo shoot.
Until then, I hadn’t even realised that real babies were used as models for our covers. Duh! So I was extra thrilled when baby Owen’s mum, Lesley, agreed to answer some questions for me about the whole business of being a baby cover model. I found Lesley’s story fascinating. I hope you do, too.
Here’s what I asked and what she had to say…
Did you have any knowledge of the modelling industry before Owen was born?
Owen has two older brothers, ages four and three. They both model as well. Owen was actually "grandfathered" into the business! It was the natural thing to do. We started when my oldest was six months old. I thought it would be something fun for us to do together. I figured if they didn't get any jobs then oh well, no loss. We have been doing this for about four years now. The kids enjoy it, and I am very grateful for the confidence that modelling has instilled in them.
I assume there’s an agent involved. Does Owen now have a portfolio?
Owen has a wonderful agent that we book all of his jobs through. It makes things a lot easier! I do keep a little portfolio book, with photos from all of Owen's modelling jobs (or "tears", as they are called in the business). It is a great baby book to keep!
Was The Bridesmaid’s Baby Owen’s debut modelling gig? How old was he?
Yes, The Bridesmaid's Baby was Owen's very first professional modelling job! He was one day shy of his three month birthday. I remember that they needed Owen to be asleep for the shoot and I did not know ahead of time. When Owen has a job, I always try to bring him fed and well-rested from a nap. So he was wide awake and there was a LOT of waiting around at this particular shoot. Finally he got sleepy and they got the shot that they needed!
What actually happens at a photo shoot?
Shoots are a lot of waiting around! They can be a lot of fun, too! Once we have booked a job, we are given a call time. We show up to the studio, and the first thing they do is give us the wardrobe. Sometimes they do hair and makeup but with babies, the most they do is a little bit of loose powder to even out their skin tone and cover up any scratches, and use a bit of water to tame their hair. After they are dressed and ready, there is usually more waiting. Eventually the baby is called to the set and they begin shooting. Sometimes it is quick and sometimes it takes hours. But the babies are always given lots of breaks to eat and rest. There is usually a big table set up with catered food, snacks, and drinks for everyone. On the more kid friendly sets, there is a separate table with juice boxes and fun kids snacks. Most always, the companies that we work for take great care of the kids and make sure that the parents and children are comfortable and happy. It makes for a smooth shoot.
Was Owen happy to be handled by strangers?
Owen is usually content to be placed on the set, but like all babies, he sometimes gets a bit fussy. That is where the baby wrangler comes in. At most shoots, there is a 'baby wrangler' whose job is to keep the babies (or children) happy on the set and get those big, winning smiles that are needed. They sometimes blow bubbles, or use hand puppets, or squeak toys to keep the baby's attention and keep them happy.
We all know little children are unpredictable. Have there been any humorous or difficult moments?
We have never had anything crazy happen to us, but my friend's baby did a shoot with a VERY big celebrity and she has a great picture of the actress holding her son, while catching his spit-up in her hand. Good thing she was baby-friendly and not a diva! Now that photo's a great keepsake for the baby book!
What other assignments has Owen had?
Owen is currently in an in-store display at "The Children's Place." He was also recently on the cover of Newsweek magazine. He has worked for companies such as Target, Earnshaw's magazine, Baby Talk magazine, Vogue Bambini, Red Heart Yarn, and Coats and Clark. He will be on the cover of another Harlequin book called "The Texas Billionaire's Baby" coming out early next year.
Owen's brothers have worked for companies such as Company Kids, Land's End, Nationwide Insurance, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Simplicity Patterns and Nestle Good Start.
Any plans for the future?
I have no long term plans to do this with my children as they get older, unless they WANT to continue. If they choose to pursue sports or another activity instead, modelling will take a backseat to that. I started with them when they were babies as a fun thing to do, and it is great that they are building their bank accounts while having a good time. But as they get older, they have to want to do this.
Thanks so much Lesley! And all the best to you and your three handsome and talented sons.