Professional Model Test Shoots by OyOy
While I or any commercial fashion photographer prefer that when we pick up the camera we are shooting garments/accessories for a client, an element of our work is “Test” shooting. In a “Test Shoot” the client is the model (the model’s agency if represented) – rather than a designer. The shoot is just as important as for a designer, but the needs and objectives are very different.
Read more about this part of the business relationship between a fashion photographer and model (or model agency) after the jump.
In a commercial fashion shoot we are photographing the clothes that a model is wearing – our client is probably the designer, or maybe a retail or wholesale company of some kind. The goal is to accurately photograph the wardrobe in the style that our client wishes to portray; the wardrobe or accessories are the most important elements of the photograph. The wardrobe is normally worn by models, but the focus and results of the images are on the product rather than the model.
Models and the agencies who represent them would like to attract more bookings. Models book photographers for “Test” shoots – photographs that highlight the talents and skills of the model. The images are all about the model, and not about the wardrobe, accessories, hair/makeup, or locations.
Test Shoots are normally set up at important change points in a model’s career: a potential model getting ready to visit agencies and arrange representation for the first time; a new model just recently signed by an agency (“New Face”) and needing professional ‘agency style’ portfolio photographs ; a career model who needs to launch or capture a new ‘image’ (change in style, hair, adding a new type of modeling, etc.).
A common question is who pays for a Test. In every case, the model pays – somehow. While some model agencies might advance fees for a professional Test Shoot, the expense is booked against future revenues of the model and deducted from the model’s account once earnings materialize.
Some amateur and hobbyist photographers will ‘trade’ services, where the model pays with talent and time. Quality comes into question when an inexperienced model shoots with an inexperienced photographer, but occasionally good results are obtained.
Models will occasionally arrange “trade” shoots with photographers and other creatives (makeup artists, hair and wardrobe stylists, etc.). However, the needs of the professional model and those of the creatives are often quite different; the typical agency style portfolio images are rarely of interest to the creatives who would like to display their creative range. Unfortunately, highly stylized creative images are seldom utilized in model agency portfolios – where the desire is images that feature solely the model and the talents of the model.
It is unfortunate to see models – normally freelance models – with a portfolio of highly creative images that serve to display the work of the creative teams they have collaborated with, rather than showcase their personal skills, posing talents and figure/physique.
The booker or agent of a model will normally provide guidance for the style of images desired from the Test Shoot. In almost every case, the instructions will include the word ‘simple’ to describe the lighting, wardrobe, makeup, and location. Models should follow the same plan if preparing for representation.
Below are some images excerpted from an actual Test Shoot for Muriel Villera, a model originally with Wilhelmina Miami. Although already represented by Wilhelmina with a few years of experience, she needed a complete portfolio update, as well as extension of genre to less conservative images in preparation for agency visits in Europe to expand her representation to the European market. These images are from a single standard agency test, planned for a range of looks and styles. Muriel V. is now represented by Front Model Management in Miami and the Bella Agency in New York City.
Models who wish to arrange a Test Shoot with OyOy can start the scheduling and planning process by filling the form and selecting “Standard Agency Test” at this link. Tests are available for models of all types and include options for both still as well as video productions under OyOy’s direction.