What are Test Shoots? – Benefits for Models and Photographers.

Photographer and model test shooting


Models and photographers alike need to stay current, sharp, and on the edge of their industry. Test shoots are a great way for both parties to do this by working together to get what they need; whether it be new photos, experience, and or the ability to simply try something new without wasting a client’s time and money. Test shoots help with all of this by giving the model and the photographer a chance to collaborate and benefit mutually.

Test Shoots have taken on somewhat of a new meaning in recent years. Back when, test shoots took place when a professional photographer would “test” out new models at an agencies request, to see if the model had what it takes to make it in the industry. These photo shoots were not free. But as the years go on, a test shoot has become more of a photo shoot where money is not the incentive, but rather photos and or experience is the mutual outcome. Typically, this arrangement is free for both parties. Some test shoots are paid, but generally money is not the incentive as both parties are trading services. It is much more about the mutual benefit of photographers getting new photographs, experience, and the opportunity to “test” out any new ideas or equipment they have, and likewise, models get fresh photos to update their portfolio as well as valuable experience in front of the camera. This is also a great time for a model to make new connections which may help out down the road. It is important to note that test shoots routinely involve amateur models and photographers, so getting that great shot may be slightly more difficult. But even advanced models and photographers may test from time to time.

In the end both parties win. The photographer gets new photos, gets the opportunity to test any new lighting, background, equipment etc. and can also indulge in some fun, ambitious, less dictated by clients type of shots. The model gets valuable modeling experience, fresh photographs, and the more connections to photographers a model has, the better. This is why it is always a good idea for beginner models to find and jump on test shoots. Advanced models will have a surplus of photos and credibility so they may be less inclined. But in the end it is not about the money when it comes to Test Shoots. It is about the mutual benefits between a photographer and a model.



  • Claire

    Reply Reply July 4, 2012

    As a model, this is a great way of building your portfolio and for free. There’s always photographers looking to gain some experience and there’s always models looking for an opportunity to get some new photos. I just wish Craiglist was more relevant and safe like how it was 5-8 years ago.

    • admin

      Reply Reply July 5, 2012

      You are exactly right Claire, testing has changed over the years, but it still remains one of the best ways for new models and photographers to get the experience and confidence they need.

  • Wendy

    Reply Reply January 7, 2016

    Is it common for the model to pay for for postage and 4 prints of the pictures at a test shoot, this test photo shoot they said the fee covers sending out the pictures to the interested clients? Really interested but I was always told not to pay anything up front, they said I can put a down payment of $50 to retain my daughters spot then pay the rest a week before the photo shoot. Just need a little advice

    • Jonah Levi Taylor

      Reply Reply January 10, 2016

      There is nothing wrong with paying a little for good help:) The key is to make sure it is Good Help. Without knowing them it is hard to say, but if you don’t feel right about it, stay away from it. Praying always helps me and perhaps it can do the same for you Wendy:) God bless.

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