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 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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