Make-up Photo Shoot Behind the Scenes
HOW CAN A PHOTOGRAPHER BOOK CLIENTS?
One of the most impactful things a photographer can do, is to appreciate and embrace the test shoot. Those that continuously create photographs to solidify their body of work, to expand on their expertise and branding will win the race in the long run. Test shoots are what give direction to your career.
While it’s a safe bet to assume that most photographers know what a test shoot is, lets do a quick rundown for those that are newer. A test shoot is essentially working for free. It’s usually instigated by the photographer, and the entire team collaborate to create beautiful images for their portfolios. Makeup, hair, stylist, photographer and model all work for free. There are 3 ways to do a test shoot:
WHAT IS A TEST SHOOT?
Good Test Shoot: Any photography session can be good. If you are contributing to your skills, this is wonderful. Shoot and be happy!
Great Test Shoot: The better way is to photograph with intention. For example, shoot the type of jobs you hope to book in the future. Those hiring you need evidence that you’re capable of handling their needs. Show them by creating a test shoot that will impress! Many that hire are not a creative type. They cannot visual the end product and giving samples of what you have created increases your odds of getting hired.
Awful Test Shoot: Lately big companies, including many record labels lower the rate of photographers by saying it’s a test shoot. By mislabeling it, they are saving a lot of money by paying a smaller fee to the photographer. Since they call it a test shoot, they can pay below your standard rate. If they like the images, they’ll pay a little extra for rights. If they don’t like it, the record label lost a small investment only and your images are dead.
PERSONAL STORY ON TEST SHOOT
I once photographed a “test shoot” for the record label. It was a small budget, and I organized the production to take place inside my home. Then the head of A&R came to my home, the head of the record label and VP of marketing showed up also. All those people came to an unimportant test shoot? Test shoots can be great, but do not allow others to abuse the definition and use it as a ticket to paying you less.
HOW DID WE CREATE THIS PHOTO SHOOT
For this photo shoot, I wanted to create a test shoot based around beauty/cosmetic. Those are the clients that I want in the next year, and creating tests around it solidify my portfolio. We photographed at my friend’s apartment. She was also my hair/makeup artist and our model came from LA’s Wilhelmina Agency.
The lights that I used were one Alien Bee/Paul C Buff head, an 86” parabolic silver umbrella and then Lee Filters for the colors gels. My camera is the Canon 5DII, yep she’s an oldie and I’m perfectly fine with this camera until it dies.
The goal was to keep the photo shoot at the lowest cost possible, and keep it to a skeleton crew. Both Cassie (glam) and I need additional beauty images in our books. I also wanted to keep my personal style alive, which is more dramatic and the usage of shadows are very important.
For this reason the background was a large denim cloth that I purchased from the garment shops of downtown LA. An $11 purchase gives me a dark blue front and grey background, is generally wrinkle-free and can last for years. I’ve pinned it to the wall, taped it and used it to block the sun. Get used to using readily available materials that are cheap. I don’t shop for the shoot usually. I purchase backdrops when they’re on sale and then find a use for them later.
The trend in many photo shoots are the colored gel visors. They give a pop of color and also cast a color shade on the model’s face. I’ve seen a variety of them, most all are great but I wanted to use gels different than what was out there. As you can see in the video, we held the gels either very close to Haley’s face or near the light source. Putting it closer to the model threw color on a particular side of her face. Holding the gel closer to the light colored the overall light, in a less powerful way. It gave a general orange light or any other color. The video shows how we did this more.
BEHIND THE SCENES TO MY POST PROCESS
The post process is a rare moment that not many allow visitors into. I believe that a makeup artist or stylist giving their input can only help the process. The key here is that the photographer is the ultimate vote. You seek the counsel of others but the final decision is the from the photographer who directs the entire project.
It is also important to speak honestly during the sessions. You need every’s honest point of view to select the best photograph for the goal of the shoot. Remember, we’re trying to do test shoots with an intention and I often catch myself asking myself what the intention of the project was.
Hope you enjoyed the glimpse into my photo shoot process.
The red rose is from the front yard! I photographed it on my iPhone, with a little mix of natural light and flash. The same rose is in every photograph as either a mohawk, hat, hair, or just some part of the image.
This video was edited by Keith Driscoll. He is available for fashion films and commercial content in Ireland and the UK.