In order to be a successful model, you must 'test' or shoot with different photographers to keep your portfolio fresh. From Ashley Graham to Heidi Klum, all models do this! These shoots are typically paid for by the model- unless you're incredibly sought after. However, when you're starting out most models have to pay. Think of them as an investment in yourselves, these pictures are an opportunity for agencies & clients to see you in a new way. In order to have a successful test, there a few different factors that you need to consider:
- Choose your photographer wisely. Make sure that you have done your research on desired photographer; checking out their website, Instagram or have talked to other models about working with them. It's important that their photography style aligns with the look that you are going for.
- Know what you're getting. Be sure to ask the photographer what is included in their rates. Some photographers have different packages to select from. It's important to know how many different looks/outfits are you shooting, if hair and makeup is included, how long they take to get the pictures back to you and how many final retouched images you get back from them.
- Styling matters! In most cases, models are expected to style their own shoots. This means you are required to bring your own clothes, shoes and jewelry. It is always helpful for me to go on to Pinterest and search ideas that I have to get inspiration. This way, the photographer and hair/makeup artist know what your vision is. If you don't feel comfortable styling your own shoot, hire a clothing stylist. Jenesee Utley, Heather Dinneen and Maxey Greene are a few of my favorites. I have hired them all for my test shoots and highly recommend all of them!
- Hair and makeup matters! This can make or break the shoot. In my experience, it's always best to start with light and simple hair and makeup for the first couple of looks for the shoot. Clients want to see what you really look like! From there, you can add a little more dramatic makeup to enhance your beauty, not distract from it.
- Know what you want. Test shoots are an opportunity for the model to express herself in a new way that hasn't been seen before. It's important to have a good grasp on the art direction that you'd like to go in. You are in charge of where things go- it's extra helpful to have pictures of inspiration to show the hair and makeup direction.
- Be a part of the selection process. You are your best advocate in the modeling industry! AND you are paying for these! Therefore, you need to be a part of selecting your final images to be retouched. Once I make my first round of selects, I pass the images off to my agency to look through and pick their favorites. If you don't have an agency yet, work with the photographer to select the images that make you seem the most marketable.
- Use your images wisely. Once you have your final images, now it's time to share them! Your agency should update their website and create a new comp card for you to market your new pictures to new clients! Hopefully with these new images, you will gain some new clients. Also, feel free to share your new photos on your social media platforms! Just be sure not to post them all at once! Use them as an opportunity to show your followers what you've been up to!
- Do it all again. I try to test every 4-6 months, averaging to 2-3 times a year. This is to keep my portfolio updated and looking fresh! You never know what picture will make a client say "I want to book her!" Testing frequently is also great way to have content to post on social media.
I hope this helps you! I've been testing with different photographers for about eight years now, not every shoot has been a success. Don't get discouraged. It's important to keep trying new things to see what works! You never know until you try. Nonetheless, test shoots are excellent practice for aspiring or younger models. After all, it is our job to be comfortable in front of the camera!