Using Test Shoots to Build Your Portfolio

When working with new models my first step is scheduling a test shoot that typically takes two hours during which I’ll usually make two hundred photographs. I start the process with interview where I’ll look at her portfolio (if she has one) and go on to show her the kind of images I produce. This exchange establishes rapport and the model has a chance to give feedback on my photography that can affect the kind of images made during the test shoot.

dahlia.colorDuring the test, I shoot in both color and black & white images. (I’ve mentioned my philosophy of shooting B&W and color at the same time; you can read it here.) These days, more often than not, I’ll be shooting mirrorless with a Lumix GH4 or Olympus EM-5 Mark I, sometimes both during a session. For lenses, I’ll use the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (90mm equivalent) or the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (28-90mm equivalent.)

As far as lighting is concerned: There are photographers who prefer  using available light meaning “every light that’s available” but I prefer to work with as few lighting tools as possible and concentrate on the model, not the equipment. For the photographs shown, I worked with Westcott’s Two-Light Daylight D5 Softbox Kit that uses daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs for soft, continuous lighting.

I don’t have a formula for posing. I try to accent a model’s good points and minimize the ones she’s self-conscious about, even if I think she’s wrong. I tell each model—and wholeheartedly believe it—that I want to make each of them too look as beautiful as possible. And that’s my goal of a test shoot, to make great pictures that makes the model happy and one that helps us toward a longstanding partnership in creating glamour photographs.

Posing bookJoe is the author of Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography that’s available at your favorite book or camera store as well as Amazon.com. A limited number of signed copies are available for $25 (including shipping) and include a signed 5×7 print of one of the images from the book. Would make a great Christmas gift for your favorite photographer; To order click on CONTACT above.

Author: Joe Farace

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