This blogpost is for the most basic of beginners, so feel free to skip the beginning portion of this post if you’re an intermediate photographer.
First and foremost, here are some lingo:
Test: This means to shoot for free in exchange for photos.
Book: This is your portfolio or website. Back in the day before digital, photographers would have to print out their work and literally bind it in a book so thats why they call it a book.
MUA: Shorthand for makeup artist.
Mood board: This is a short series of images you need to send over to the agent and team so everyone is on the same page about what the shoot will be about. Read more about mood boards here.
Call Sheet: This is a 1 page doc you need to send everyone on the team after the shoot is confirmed that contains info about the date, time, address, schedule and any other notes and reminders to the model and team.
If you’re an amateur photographer without a book whatsoever, these are the following steps I would recommend to get your book to a place where you can test with models. Steps 1 and 2 are for super basic beginners so feel free to skip ahead if you already have a portfolio and you’re just wondering how to get into the modeling testing world.
Shoot your really attractive friends and family. If you don’t have a portfolio, it would be really hard to reach out to agencies so you have to build up to it with family and friends. Block out time on the weekends and just get familiar with posing and directing!
Reach out to really attractive strangers (no, seriously) I actually did this in a coffee shop once. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your network and just offer to shoot! If you’re still new to photography and looking to expand your book, I would definitely recommend this. Instagram has made it SO easy to reach out to attractive strangers. Just slide into their DMs. (lol)
Cold email agencies and ask them if they have new models (new faces) you can test with. Here is a sample of an email you can send:
“Hi there, I’m a photographer based in Los Angeles looking to build my book. You can find my portfolio here (Insert link). Are there any new faces in your agency that I can test with? Looking forward to hearing your response. Thank you!”
I always like to include my website link within the body message link because you don’t want to assume they’ll look for your portfolio in your signature. I like to make things as easy for agents as possible because they’re probably going through hundreds of emails from photographers asking for tests every day. Reaching out to agencies to test with is a numbers game, so be sure to reach out to a few different agencies— one is bound to say yes. Comment below if you have any other questions!