Test Shoots Are Important for Portfolio Building

Photographing for free can hurt your brand or build a whole new business branch. There are photographers who work for free because they are afraid to charge. Then, there are photographers who work for free in the form of test shoots. 

Test shoots are a collaborative effort between the core crew and model. Traditionally, everyone signs on to work for free. They are building towards a unified effort to boost their portfolios. The portfolios are what help them book the paid jobs. In this video, I am showing the first parts of working with a team on a beauty shoot. Even though we have a wardrobe stylist, the focus is actually on the face and makeup.

Why Should We Invest Time in Test Shoots?

Brands hire you based on your past work. Brands also water down the creativity that photographers present, and it makes it difficult to showcase your true potential on a commissioned job. Their job is to present a campaign that that is palatable for their audience base. 

Imagine wanting Rihanna's Fenty to see your full potential, but you've only been hired to capture images for a simple Neutrogena ad. Booking either brand would be incredible, but they are not the same style. The photographer cannot expect the Fenty Creative Director to see their potential from a Neutrogena face wash ad. 

Create the Opportunity to Get the Attention of Fenty

Since said portfolio may not have the examples to grab Rihanna's attention, we create it. That is the test shoot. We find the right hair, makeup, wardrobe stylist, and model who need the same type of work. Since brands have a hard time seeing our portfolio the way we want them to, we must present them with an example. In this video, you will see me working with a small team to get the type of images we needed for our books. 

The video will show you how I selected the lighting, the final outfit, and all the requirements for setting up the photoshoot. 

You Are Still Working for Free

Yes, we are, but it's free with a purpose. Photographing any model under "collab" and hoping they tag you will likely not move the needle. Photographing with a purpose in mind to gain the attention of future clients is a test shoot. One is taking advantage of your skills. One is leveraging your skills to build your brand.

Feel free to watch the video and see how I run a small test shoot with my team. The images were meant to be commercial but with a slight edge. I want to photograph for more beauty brands, and this will add to that gallery in my portfolio. I hope you learn something and add those skills to bolster your own work.

Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment