In this blog, I will tell you how photography test shoots are the savior of your career.
Photographing for free can hurt your brand or build a whole new business branch. I’ve said this over and over on my Instagram account and all my youtube videos. 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. The latter is the better one!
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 and all of their portfolios will benefit from the same type of photo shoot.
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. Yes, they are working for free but the images are intended to book paid jobs, and the images fill a void in the portfolio. It’s a strategic decision.
Create Your Own Photography Opportunity
Brands hire you based on your past work. This is exactly why test photography test shoots are vital. They need to see that you’ve already had success in something before they invest their own resources into you.
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.
This is why you’ll benefit from test shoots. If former clients haven’t yet given you opportunities to flex your creative style, then create the opportunity yourself. I’m doing my best not to type “If you build it, they will….”
Photography Test Shoots are Not 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.
Instead of thinking of it as “free” switch the mind to thinking it’s an investment towards your future.
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.
Working with Your Photography Team
Working with your team is vital with the test shoot and the paid shoots. The reason why I’ll bring it up is that with a test shoot everyone is giving you their time and expertise. Another way to say that is a free product.
When my makeup artist, hairstylist, and wardrobe stylist give me their free product then I will make sure they have an almost equal voice. ALMOST EQUAL? Yeah, I’m the photographer and director. I am going to direct the job but every single person contributing will have a voice and vote. And if I’m going to have their talent on my shoot, I am going to respect their voice and choice.
Make sure that every person who contributes to the test shoot feels heard and respected. This is one of the basics of building a solid career. It all starts with the photography test shoot!
Can You Help Me Build my Photography Business?
Do you need help? Amazing! Did you watch the video and think “I could do this!” and now you are inspired? If so, I’m smiling for you and excited about the future you will create.
Here is the first place to start: Sign up here for my free newsletter. I know…another newsletter?! Well, mine is different. I don’t see your information and I won’t bombard you with nonsense. You might get one this week but not next week, and that’s because I’m only sending newsletters that will serve you. Sometimes it’s full of infographics, has cheatsheets, or just lets you know about a new video that might change your business for the better.