Sources Fashion Head Shots / SUPPORT SERVICES



A Need for Photos

You will need photos as your marketing materials – for your composite, your portfolio and web presence. If you are able to be accepted by a legitimate Modeling Agency chances are that they will assist you in finding test shoots. Working as an independent freelance model you will have to track down your own test shoots. Test shoots or testing has become a generic term for photographic shoots where a model acquires photographs to use for the model's own promotion.


This can be a single piece of paper with a headshot printed on one side and more photos and your vital statistics on the back. At any rate, this is your basic marketing tool. You give it to photographers, art directors, casting agents and others. It is your sales brochure and business card all in one and it is hard to get far without it.


Before we were speaking of the case necessary to carry your photos, now we will speak of your portfolio as your second marketing tool. After someone shows an interest in you, hopefully, they will want to see more photos of you. This is where your portfolio comes in. Your portfolio should contain an assortment of photos and tear sheets showing ‘you look' and what you have done. They all, of course, should be of excellent quality. Start with a good clean head shot. It needs to show both your physical appearance and personality. If you have it right the remainder of your photos will produce the ‘Wow' factor.


The larger agencies will have their own portfolio cases sporting their logo. Generally they will charge you for this case which would be a simulated leather case in appearance. Most of the portfolio cases are 10” x 13” or 11” x 14” in size and normally hold 20 or 40 photos or tear sheets. The main thing is to secure something that will provide you with a professional presentation. Keep in mind you will be dealing with people who are visually oriented such as, photographers, art directors, creative directors and fashion designers. It is essential to keep in clean and be sure to glue everything down so nothing falls out. Make sure to keep your portfolio protected from rain and coffee stains, etc.

The Value of the Test Shoot

You also have to have experience working in front of the camera. The experience in front of the camera is how you truly learn to be a model. During your first few photo shoots you may be just trying to get comfortable in front of the camera. As you do more shoots you will pickup how to move, how to work in the light, how to hit your mark, and the routine of a studio. After you have 30 to 50 shoots you will have a handle on working in front of a camera. At this point you become a valuable asset to a shoot and no longer a wannabe. Well established modeling agencies send models out on test shoots to gain experience and build a portfolio. That is how they start and train the top professional models. Tracking down test shoots is essential for a beginning model.

You have two basic goals when doing test shoots. One is to get good quality photos as fast as you can to start getting work. The better quality (more professional and creative) photos you have in your portfolio the better paying jobs you will get. The second is to get experience in front of the camera and learning how to find your way around a studio or location shoot.

Definition of a ‘Test Shoot'

By definition a ‘Test Shoot' (also refereed to as a photographer's test shoot and Time For Prints [TFP] shoot) is when a photographer wants to try out a new creative idea, test some new equipment or film, wants to build the photographer's portfolio, or just wants to practice and figure out how to take pictures, he sets up a photo session. In the case of a fashion or people photographer he needs a warm body to put in front of the lens. This is where the volunteer model comes in. This can work out well for both parties. The photographer does not want to pay for a model and the model does not want to pay for a photographer, so by trading services both get images for their portfolio and gain experience. In some cases the photographer might give you a couple of prints for your services, in other cases you may have to pay for prints. In all cases you will not get the original and don't even ask to borrow them.

General advice

There are several problems you will find with this arrangement. A beginning photographer may be eager to do test shoots, but he or she is still learning, so the quality of work may not be that good. You may end up with just so-so prints in your portfolio. In the case of seasoned professional photographers, they are often too busy with paying jobs or burned-out on doing new-model tests to do any test shoots. Thus it might be hard to find someone who is capable of producing good work and wants to do a test shoot with a new model. On the occasion when a seasoned photographer has a burning desire to do something new and creative, he usually turns to a model he already knows and with whom he enjoys working. So to just set your sites on securing free quality photos fast may take valuable time and this also must be considered.

Is it a total waste to do a test shoot with a beginning photographer? No. When you are starting out any chance you have to get in front of the camera and see some results is valuable. It is a chance to gain some experience, try new make-up, poses, expression, wardrobe, and see how the photographer sees you. And once in while you and the beginning photographer may even hit upon something that will produce an outstanding photograph. For a model this 'learning by doing' is the best teacher. So although it can take time it does help to accomplish your second goal of gaining experience.


This is where the warning should come in when looking for test shoots. There always seems to be these "semi-pro" photographers out there. These guys are more then willing to do test shoots with new young models. These guys are more interested in hanky-panky than in producing a great photograph. At some point they want to get your clothes off or they are all over you like an octopus, saying they are trying to show you how to pose. This is where professionalism on both the model's and photographer's part is needed.

Finding a Free Test Shoot

Look in various directories in your area and email them asking if they do any photographer test shoots (TFP). Try the local University or College and check with the Photography department. You might put an ad in the University bulletin board. At all times make it clear that you are not seeking or interested in doing ‘Glamour Shots' unless that is what you are seeking.

Anyone 18 or under take extreme caution and only pursue this avenue with one of your parents.

Arranging your own Test Shoot

You may find that you are unable to track down any free shoots; or, after you have done a number of test shoots with beginning photographers and have your act together, you know need some outstanding professional photos for your portfolio; or, perhaps you don't have time to do what is necessary.

Unlike a photographer's test shoot you are now the boss. You will need to shop around and check photographers' portfolios to find the one that is doing the type and quality of work you would like in your portfolio. Again checking photographers' web sites can help with this. You also may need to find a make-up artist and hair stylist, if you are not fully experienced at doing your make-up and hair. You will want to plan out with the photographer what type of looks you want, what your wardrobe will be, and the costs. In this case, since you are the paying client, you should expect to receive all original film or transparencies. Be sure to work this out before the shoot and be sure what rights will transfer.


445media Hollywood, California
Acosta, Alex Winter Park, Florida Woodland Hills, California
Anderson, Robi Rancho Mirage, California
Anita Zvonar Photography Toronto, Ontario
Aqua Matrix Photography Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Arthur Cohen Photography New York, New York
Aziz, Jutta Los Angeles, California
Bella Donna Photography Orlando, Florida
Bendele, Aaron Chicago, Illinois
Berger, Jason Brooklyn, New York
Bigger Picture Pictures, The New York, New York
Brion Price Photography Winter Park, Florida
Brown, Richard Seattle, Washington
Buckley, Victoria Merritt Island, Florida
Cain, Kimberly North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Cain Images Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Caperture Redwood City, California
Chad Hillman Photography Santa Monica, California
Chaloupka, Christine Crestview, Florida Orlando, Florida
Cooper, Clark Salt Lake City, Utah
Craig Huey Photography Orlando, Florida
Crawford, Steven New York, New York
Creative Images Photography North Palm Beach, Florida
D'Ambrosio, Carolyn Hamtramck, Michigan
d'Estes, Katelyn Los Angeles, California
Daniel Nadelbach Photography Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dave-E! Photography Sarasota, Florida
David Beyda Studio New York, New York
Dawn Elizabeth Modern Portraiture Fayetteville, North Carolina
Digital Behavior Phoenix, Arizona
Emodels1 Santa Fe, New Mexico
Engage Design Studio New York, New York
Essential Photography Orlando, Florida
Ewton, Terri Austin, Texas
Extreme Talent, Inc. Tampa, Florida
Fink, Jordan Atlanta, Georgia
Flare Photography Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fox Photography Lincoln, Rhode Island
Gibson, Kat Austin, Texas
GirlStudio Photography Nashville, Tennessee
Glam Squad Production Artists Hollywood, Florida
Goodman, Rod New York, New York
Grierson Photography St. Paul, Minnesota
Hinkle, Jerry Miami, Florida
internetactors.evisionsite Los Angeles, California
Jill Porter Photography Winter Park, Florida
Joan Lauren Photography Los Angeles, California
Joe Edelman PhotoGraphics Lansdale, Pennsylvania
John Maio Photography Albuquerque, New Mexico
Katano, Nicole Los Angeles, California
Kauffman, Jeff Austin, Texas
Kern, Dan Winnipeg, Manitoba
Kuntz, Christian Whitehorse, Yukon
Loeffler, Bruce Beverly Hills, California
Lucassian Photography Troy, Michigan
Lundy Photography Phoenix, Arizona
Lure Image Photographic Design Vancouver, British Columbia
Maguire Neblett Photography Richmond, Virginia
Marc Cartwright Photography Los Angeles, California
Martin, David New York, New York
Mazzucco, Lisa-Marie New York, New York
McGaha Miller, Glenn Fort Collins, Colorado
Mendes, Mary Anne North Plainfield, New Jersey
MESS Makeup New York, New York
Michael Wolf Studio Whippany, New Jersey
Michaels, Jill Carlsbad, California
Millions, Trevor Edmonton, Alberta
Misztela, Ted Bedford, Nova Scotia
MovingHeadshots Los Angeles, California
MyTalent Orlando, Florida
Neumann, William New York, New York
Nikkanen, Carolyn Mississauga, Ontario
O'Dwyer, Rob Boston, Massachusetts
On the Edge Media Group Spokane, Washington
Peter Hurley Photography New York, New York
Peter Konerko Photography Brooklyn, New York
Photo Atelier, Roberto Pasadena, California
Photography By Lasky North Miami, Florida
Photography by Paul Joseph Melbourne, Florida
Photoscan Orlando, Florida
Q&A Productions, Inc. Orlando, Florida
Quiet Tip Entertainment Company Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
RGB Digital Services Los Angeles, California
Riccitelli, Beverly Union, New Jersey
Riccitelli, Bruce Union, New Jersey
Rice, Jr., John Orlando, Florida
Robert Michael Photography Keyport, New Jersey
Roman Salicki Photography Los Angeles, California
ruggeri, lawrence Clarksburg, Maryland
Saavedra, Jen Land O Lakes, Florida
Sanchez, George Alexandria, Virginia
Sandoval, Jasmine Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Santa Fe Models Santa Fe, New Mexico
Scene Interactive New York, New York
Sedwick, Beaux Los Angeles, California
Seiji Photography Honolulu, Hawaii
Serra, Christopher Wilmington, Delaware
Shadowcasting Studios Seattle, Washington
Shapntzer, Tal Brooklyn, New York
Silverstein, Erika Brooklyn, New York
StarrShots Studio Altamonte Springs, Florida
Strait, Jonathan New York, New York
Studio Tew Orlando, Florida
Susan Foster Photography Tampa, Florida
Szczesny, Shirrita West Palm Beach, Florida
TC Theatre and Film St. Paul, Minnesota
That's The Shot! Canyon Country, California
Tom Hawkins Photography Vancouver, British Columbia
Ussel, Gina Lorin Chicago, Illinois
Vera, Daniel New York, New York
Whitfield, Kimberly Grambling, Louisiana
Widerman, Jennifer Pasadena, Maryland

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