How To Convince Top Photographers For Test Shootings | Become a model #4

Looking for photographers to get a strong model book? How will you find a good photographer for your test shoot? And how many do you need? If you are already with some good agencies, you will get enquiries from them. That is how you get in touch with photographers. You will get your first photoshoots and first pictures, which will help you working. Once photographers, agencies or yourself post pictures, you will quickly get new requests from other photographers. But now you should be careful: keep in mind – quality!

Tips by Stephan M. Czaja, CM Models. Author of The Model Book. Listen for free Model Podcast!

Quality before quantity! Select different styles

A lot of models think that taking as many pictures as possible will help them be successful. But is that true? If you are a young model and shooting with a lot of photographers at the beginning to build your book, you will still end up using only a few shots. Time for planning and shootings is wasted. On social media, there will be too many pictures of you once photographers or others post the editorials. If there are a lot of photoshoots with you, like unpaid tests, why should somebody pay for you? As a model, you have to be selective when it comes to photoshoots for your book. The level and quality should always increase. You should also focus and maintain your exclusiveness. This also applies to jobs. You should select your jobs, clients, and photographers carefully. Modeling agencies will ensure that clients fit you as a model. As explained, jobs on trade shows or for music videos do not usually come from agencies. As a model, it is vital to have a versatile book. A good model management will have great contacts and photographers so that you can build up your book step by step and improve the same way. Nobody will be a star overnight, even top models started from the bottom and worked their way into the modeling Olymp. And that is just the same way you should work on your dream of becoming a model.

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Enquiries after the first photoshoots

I would like to explain this a bit more. Once younger models are being accepted at an agency and take their first pictures, enquires from photographers will follow automatically via Facebook, Instagram ets. Of course, you will be happy about that but it might get too much. You should always forward all enquires to your agency. They know exactly who is reputable and who is not. And you will also show that you want to work with your agency and not alongside your agency. You will get even more enquiries for jobs. Those are not reputable. Job enquires via Instagram will only be posed by companies that want to save money (and which might not include working hours, don’t use contracts or buyouts etc.). It is your manager’s job to tell you to be patient, which is difficult, because even smaller jobs are interesting for new faces. But: enquiries will come and go. Getting the best and most profitable once is the way to do it. Only by quality you will be a successful model in the long run and be able to get good payment. This applies to clients, media and editorials. Too much of one thing will lower your value and therefore, soon enough you will have to look for photographers who fit your book perfectly by yourself. For example, if you need commercial or sports pictures. Every photographer has a speciality in which he/she is best at. And as a model, once you want to improve your book, you have to look for the most suitable photographer. You will earn enough money then to even consider paid photoshoots with top photographers. We will talk more about that on page 104, about paid photoshoots (paid photoshoots with photographers).

Test shoots with photographers for your book

First of all: What is a test shoot?

All test shoots will be considered unpaid work. In United States test shoots are also called TPF (time for print). This term is mostly used within hobby photographers/models and the international term would be test.

What does that mean?

Photographers, models and make-up artists will work without getting paid. All parties involved use the pictures for their own portfolio. Photographers may take pictures with models they need for their portfolio. For example, pictures he/she won’t get with a job. With new pictures, you will get new clients.

The variety! Test shoots are vital for new faces as they will be your first pictures for your book. Later you will even be paid as a model to do test shoots. For example, if a photographer is looking for a certain type of model for his/her project.

Tipps for your first test

There are some easy steps that will help you. First it is important to convince photographers to shoot with you. Like modeling agencies, photographers get lots of enquiries from models. If you are showing that you are committed and think about your test shoot beforehand, your chances will increase of getting a good photographer for your test. The less time they have to invest, the better for them. On one side, you are nervous as a new face because it is your first test shoot. At the beginning, you don’t really know what you have to do. I have some easy tips for you from fashion the photographer, Oliver Rudolph. He knows exactly what clients want to see and what pictures are needed, what facial expressions are good, because he has been in the industry for quite a while now. In order to get test shoots, you have to convince photographers about yourself and your idea first.

How do you convince photographers?

Convincing photographers takes time, because YOU are the new face!

As I said, it has you to be your aim to get better photographers for each shoot. Better photographers mean for you also that you have to improve each photoshoot. The portfolio of the photographer will be better than yours. He or she has already worked with clients and gained a lot of experience. The higher the expectations of the new pictures, the better the quality of the photographer.

Therefore, you have to convince the photographer of yourself at the photoshoot. Great preparation will help you achieve this goal. You have to plan the entire photoshoot: type, styling, location. Before you now start to think about the photoshoot, keep in mind that it is not only about you. You meet the photographer and you might have to make little adjustments here and there. How can you offer him/her something that he/she maybe hasn’t done so often? Will a make-up artist be at the photoshoot? She/he might have some ideas as well. A test shoot should always include the interests of all parties involved, even when planning it. Additionally, you should collect pictures (moods), which are part of your preparation. If you know how to work with Photoshop, you can create a little mood board yourself. It is enough though to send an email with attached pictures. Keep in mind that you can attach a maximum of two or three pictures per theme (style, styling, location).

Checklist for your mood board:

  1. What kind of pictures to I need?
  2. Sporty, fashion, lifestyle, commercial, family….
  3. Which styling will I get on set?
  4. Brands, colours, clothing, ….
  5. Which location will be nearby?
  6. Surroundings, light, approvals, ….
  7. Collect moods
  8. Sample pictures for what you have in mind

Get in touch with photographers

First, you will write a short, friendly, and clearly structured email with moods, in order to present your idea. Your email will include all your thoughts in short (style, styling, location).

This will be a good template for all your email. Then, you should look for good photographers nearby your location. Often it is enough to use Google and search for “Photographers Berlin”, “Photographers Munich” etc. You can also look on Instagram or in Facebook groups about modeling. Write a separate message to each photographer and try to put in an individual sentence about why you want to shoot with him/her. This makes the e-mail more personalised. You should also have a look at the portfolio of the photographer or the website, Facebook, or Instagram page.

Why is this so important? Many of models just thing about themselves when looking for a photographer. No photographer will get back to a kind of automated email. But if you show that you took the time and looked at the work, and present a structured concept of the shoot, chances are good that you will get a positive reply from the photographer.

By using more strategies, you will get better photographers more easily, because they will see that you want to work with them.

Checklist for e-mails to photographers:

  1. short email with max. 100 words
  2. start with a personal introduction like “Dear Katharina…”
  3. describe your concept, styling, location
  4. explain why you choose him/her as photographer
  5. try to find moods in the internet, which will help the photographer to get an idea of what you want to do
  6. attach a maximum of 3 pictures of each theme
  7. send each photographer an individual email (no CC or BCC)

Facial expressions in the photoshoot

After a few photoshoots with good photographers, your chances of getting better will improve and your abilities will increase. Within the first test shoots or the first visit of the agency, you might be a bit insecure when they are taking snaps of your or when shooting with the photographer. Many of models are nervous and only think about posing! But they forget about their facial expressions. The body is moving, arms are swinging, hands in your face, shoulders in the air. The facial expression however stays the same. At the end, every picture will look the same. Maybe that will work with your first set, because it looks “cool”, but with the second set, it will be boring. That is why a lot of clients do castings for their commercials and campaigns. They will see live if the model is good and can convince them if she/he is more “boring.” We, as humans, always pay attention to the face first, at the first meeting or when looking at models on big billboards in the city. Facial expressions are everything!

Facial expressions tips

For good facial expressions, I spoke to the fashion photographer, Oliver Rudolph. His tips will help you as a new face for your first photoshoot to show that you are versatile. Again, moods will help you here. You will know what the shoot will be about. Collect some moods for each set for each photoshoot you will do (with regards to posing). You will be inspired with what you can do with your body and likewise inspired with your facial expressions. To make them vary, as a model, you can practise your posing in front of a mirror, like actors or presenters do. But before posing, there are the facial expressions! Once you have these moods you can always get back to them and look at them and get even more. During test shoots and jobs, you will have outfit changes, sometimes even location changes. If you now have a plan in your head of how everything will go, and what the photographer expects from you within these looks as posing and facial expressions, the pictures will turn out better, more versatile, and stronger. For your first shoots, always look at moods and practise different emotions, angles, and facial expressions, which you will use during the real photoshoot.

Checklist for different facial expression:

  1. Put your head down, looking on the ground and then up and focus on the camera. Play with your lips.
  2. Like number 1, but one glance from left to right and camera.
  3. You can close your eyes and “feel”.
  4. Imagine you are kissing your friend, or eating the best pizza you ever had. You are standing on a mountain and breathing in fresh air. The “felt” emotions will help you!
  5. And know you can look “sweet“, or even “fragile“.
  6. The contrast to the usual, edgy, hard fashion expressions of many models in their first photoshoots.
  7. Sweet view and smile.
  8. But don’t forget: move your body and use a mix of different poses and expressions. You can always broaden your expression portfolio by training in front of the mirror.

Invest in good photographers

One day you will be perfect in hundreds of different expresions. Maybe after you have had ten or fifteen tests or jobs. And your expectations regarding test shoots and jobs will also increase. You earned your first money and can now choose, whether to spend the money or to invest it. If you earned your first money as model, you might want to think about investing your money into good photographers. Top photographers don’t do tests, like many top models. Therefore, models should invest at a certain stage in their career into better, newer pictures, polaroids and videos. You should always do this step first if you have already earned money as a model. The basis for new faces are great snaps. That’s it. With great polaroids you will make it into a great modeling agency and get good photographers and clients to work with you, and will be sent to castings in United States or worldwide.

Quest Author: Stephan M. Czaja / CM Models (Head Booker) from ‘The Model Book’