Tips on how to arrange successful photo shoots using models
The first thing any aspiring model needs is photographs. A portfolio of test shoots or promotional shots is an essential component of the models CV for finding jobs.
If youre with an agency, they may arrange a test shoot for you, but if youre working freelance and doing everything on your own, its up to you to arrange it.
Test shoots are good not only for building a portfolio, but for giving you experience in front of the camera and helping you understand how a photographer works, what a shoot involves, what a set or location looks like and whats expected of a model.
Dont be conned into spending lots of money on test shoot packages from photographers. Although its true that the better the portfolio, the better the job prospects, this doesnt mean that you have to go to a great deal of expense. All you need are a few well chosen photographs to get you going. Go for a small selection of varied prints that show off your flexibility in different locations with different styles, rather than a suite of studio photographs taken all at once by the same photographer, which will all look very similar and wont give a good impression of your full potential. Vary your clothes, make-up, hair and poses as well as the backdrops for your photos, which should ideally be from a range of different photographers.
Often photographers want to arrange test shoots themselves to check out new equipment or experiment with new ideas, so if you can find a willing photographer, you could trade services and both get a good deal out of it free or reduced-price photographs for you and a free model for them.
Bear in mind that its normally beginners or photographers with little experience who tend to offer such deals, but this shouldnt really be a problem when youre just starting out yourself. The photographs dont need to be of the absolute best quality, as long as they show off your features clearly to give agencies and potential employers a good idea of what you have to offer.
If youve got any friends or family whore keen amateur photographers, you could always ask them to take some snapshots for you. Alternatively, find out if there are any photography clubs in your area and approach them to offer your services as a model in return for some prints for your portfolio. Or you could even put up a notice on the bulletin board in the photography department of your local college or university to look for willing student volunteers.
Once youve found a photographer, youll need to think about how to handle the photo shoot. Photographers are like directors theyre in charge of the shoot and can be quite demanding, so its important to understand what to expect and how to behave in the shoot.
At least a few days in advance of the shoot, speak to the photographer to discuss the plans for the shoot and what it will involve, in case there is any preparation required on your part. Ask whether you need to bring anything of your own props, clothes. Its particularly important to check what the situation is regarding make-up. If youve to provide it yourself, it will save the photographer a great deal of time if youre already made up before you arrive. Put it on (or have it done) freshly just before you leave for the shoot for the best results. If the photographer will be providing the make-up, its best to arrive without any make-up on, to save the make-up artist time so that they dont have to first remove your existing make-up to get a clean base.
If youve to provide your own clothes, dont wear them on your way to the shoot. Get changed after you arrive so that the clothes are fresh and uncreased.
On the day, make sure you arrive in plenty of time, looking your best and in the most relaxed state of mind for a successful shoot (no big parties the night before and no flustered last-minute dashing to the location!) Shoot schedules can be tight, especially if the photographer is hiring the studio, which is normally let at an hourly rate. You want to get off to the best start possible so it helps if you feel calm and confident. It also helps to get into the right frame of mind for the shoot if you have time to chat with and get to know the photographer a little first.
When the photographer is ready, get in front of the camera and listen carefully to their instructions. Youll need to pay attention constantly as the photographer will be snapping away rapidly and will expect you to be able to change pose or position in an instant.
Try to understand what the photographer is aiming to achieve in terms of lighting and effects so that you can work along with their objectives and get yourself in the right positions and poses. Think of yourself not just as a prop, but as a partner. Know the purpose of the photograph so you can capture the right mood, and know what types of shot the photographer is taking, for example full body, portrait or close-up, so that you concentrate on getting the right look in the right area.
After the shoot, check with the photographer when the photos will be ready and say goodbye politely. This is also a good opportunity to check other upcoming projects and whether there may be any work for you. Dont linger too long though, as the photographer may have to tidy up in order to rush off to another job and could be pushed for time.