I CAN still remember vividly the first few test shoots I did. It was horrible and embarrassing when thinking about it now. But when you try to look back at your beginnings, it will also shows how much you’ve progressed. We call it fun shoot back then, I didn’t really know the terminology used in the industry. It was only in the later part while working with wider players involved in the industry that I was corrected.
Test shoot is the best way for you to learn in a lot of ways. It is a complete learning experience that cannot be learned through workshops or YouTube university. The idea is to simulate the shooting experience so when the actual commissioned job rolls in, you can handle the problems like a pro.
In the set of a commissioned work, there will be a lot of issues that will pop-up such as hardware malfunction, light spills, posing and a lot more. Problems in the set are inevitable and the only way to remedy it is through experience. If you try to learn all trouble-shooting woes on a paid shoot, it would be unprofessional. Clients deserve expertise from photographers who claim to be professional.
Of course, the idea of producing images that would finally brand you as a photographer and the pride to put it in social media is one of the reasons you want to do a test shoot. It builds up your portfolio and all for your potential clients to see, but you can also make it work for you in terms of added experience.
In my workshops, I always emphasize that setting up your own shoot and experiencing the difficulties of coordinating with a lot of people involved in the shoot are part of learning. When something goes south, it is your responsibility and you have to find a way to end the day producing the images that you planned to come out of the shoot.
It is understandable that in the beginning you go with your friend photographer and join a shoot because you’re still trying to understand how it works, but as soon as you can, you have to do it on your own. There is no sense of getting stunning portfolio if you can’t manage a shoot from start to finish.
When you’re doing test shoots, it’s important to note that there will be a tendency for you to keep on doing the same shooting style. Sometimes when you mastered a look or style of shooting, you tend to apply it in all your shots. Nothing wrong doing it but the learning part becomes less in these situations.
Try to put yourself in challenging concepts, something that you haven’t done before. This way you’ll be on your toes all the time and always in a good learning environment. It is scary I know, you have no idea if you’re going to pull it off, but the learning is an important tool in photography.
Keep on shooting, everyone!