How I organise & prepare test shoots!

Test Shoots!

Something that all student photographers and even professional photographers will organise or be a part of at some point in their career. 

For me, test shoots began with friends and family to help build my portfolio and skill level before I started to have the confidence to message models and model agencies.

This blog post is a simple itinerary of what I do/ provide for a test shoot and how I would organise the shoot!

Step 1: Organise a date! 

Once you have set your date and timings of the day, you can begin to organise models, styling, theme, other creatives and basically plan plan plan!

Step 2: Make a mood-board/finalise the concept of your photoshoot

Mood boards are key not only for you to get your ideas & themes set but for the model, other creatives and agencies to understand what type of shoot you are conducting. 

My mood boards consist of three categories.

  • The main body includes the overall theme of photos - poses, photos I think fit the similar style etc
  • Makeup & Hair - This is a sub category for the MUA to be able to get a clear idea of what kind of makeup you expect on the day.
  • Styling/Clothing - make a sub category to help the models style themselves or if a stylist is involved allow them to make a category on the board by collaborating!

Here is an example of a mood board from a recent shoot!  Valentines day Mood board

Step 3: Get messaging Models/Agencies & Creatives

At university, messaging model agencies was something I found scary. I refused to do it for a long period of time and instead resorted to messaging people directly on instagram. Instagram has a wide range of creatives and is a great way to network with people who may also want to collaborate. MUA, stylists and models are always keen to get creative, especially if the photoshoot is going to be submitted to magazines or is suitable for their portfolios.

When messaging agencies, be confident, be knowledgeable about the photoshoot you are doing and what images will be created. 

I message a few different agencies depending on the style of my shoot. Different agencies fit different genres of photography with some models being more commercial and others being high fashion or editorial. 

^ Do not take rejection or no reply as the end! Keep messaging, keep trying and I promise the more your portfolio builds the more agency represented models you will be able to book.


Include the team, times, location, contact info

Any requirements, things they should bring

^ I send this to everyone who is involved in the photoshoot

Step 4: The Shoot

I find that the shoot is the easiest part! The organisation beforehand is key for everything to go correctly. Once your models are booked you can start shooting the style you were hoping to achieve. 

Do not be fixated on creating one look!

I shoot various looks with a group of models within one test shoot to develop my portfolio but to also add diversity to each models photos they take home with them. 

Experiment with your ideas, your angles, poses, clothing!  This is how the best photos are made.

Step 5: Selection, Editing, Sending

Test shoots consist of a team working on a time for print basis usually. This means everyone receives the photos for the portfolios.

I choose my selects, create a contact sheet and send to the team.

Each person (dependant on the number of people involved) picks 2-5 images that the feel work best in their portfolios and I edit. 

^ If it’s for an editorial I edit only the photos I am using for submission. 

Magazine submissions prefer for the photos to stay exclusive to the magazine and un-posted on socials/portfolios before the release of the magazine.

Here are some of the photos created at the Valentines day themed shoot with the amazing models and Charlotte doing makeup!

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