In the world of photography, testing, sometimes referred to TFP shoot, is a highly debated issue that have supporters and opponents. We are probably amongst the stronger supporters to the idea of testing. Today we will give you 5 good reasons why we so strongly support the idea of testing.
First of all a short definition of a test shoot: a photo session, where everyone involved, joins together to collaborate for a common result. The payment is generally managed in terms of portfolio images, or photographs for self promotion.
A test is often referred as “TFCD Shoot” (Time For CD) or “TFP shoot” (Time For Print) as it indicates that everyone’s time is paid in final images. Despite being the old school terms, as it referred to the physical prints for portfolio photographers gave out, a test shoot is still commonly known as TFP shoot.
As professional, you need to be paid to shoot, but there are exceptions to this rule. So, what are the 5 reasons why you should make the most our of TFP shoot?
1. With a TFP shoot you can experiment
It is correct that you can push the envelope a little bit when shooting your customer; however, the main goal while shooting a customer is producing great images for them. They know the work you produce and publish, and if they are in front of your camera, it is because of those shoot. You can certainly try something different for them, but you do not want your customers to be the “scapegoats” of your tests. Give them your signature shoots and make them happy!
But if you want to experiment; if you want to understand how a new pose will look; if you want to push your creativity to a new level, bring a creative team on board and organise a TFP shoot!
2. With a TFP shoot you expand your portfolio
I am sure that if you have read this blog for more than a couple of weeks, you are already aware that we never publish images of our customers, if not in very rare exceptions, but we still need our portfolio to be always up to date. We want out blog posts to be filled with our images, to give everyone a better idea of what we can do in terms of imagery!
For this reason, we need fresh photos as they are our signature on this blog and we do it through TFP shoots.
3. You meet new creatives on a TFP shoot
Do you know which makeup artist is more skilled with dark skins? Or who do you pick if you need to satisfy the needs of a customer who is very into her hair? Is there any creative you use if you need to be really quick in the preparation? For us, testing through a TFP shoot means meeting new creatives and understand what are their strengths. Can we use someone new with our customers, or are they more suited for editorial works? Whenever you test on a TFP shoot, you have the possibility to expand your network, which is always a great thing!
Do you know that we never use new makeup artists with customers? We want to test them on a TFP shoot before placing them in front of our customers, and when some artists feel they are already at the stage that they “don’t need to test any longer” it means that they don’t have the attitude we are looking for in someone to bring in for our customers.
4. You learn
There is a quote from Gandhi that I particularly love:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
In so many years behind the camera, I am still learning every time I shoot. I may learn one particular lighting condition, I may discover a new way to give my subject a relaxed experience or I may just only learn to shoot better.
Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” and it is very true. The more time you spend behind the camera, the better your photographs. Testing of a TFP shoot gives you the perfect opportunity to get better, so even if you are not earning money from it, you are earning the experience that allows you to sell yourself better on the market.
5. It is Fun!
If shooting is not fun, I guess you should consider another career. Photography is a challenging business, and if you don’t do with passion, you should not do it at all. I love shooting, I love having that feeling of telling a story through my camera. Being a professional photographer means that you have to care a lot about your business, and that, apart from rare cases, this means you will not spend the majority of your time behind a camera. So, the least you can do, when you are shooting, is to make sure to have fun. A TFP shoot is a perfect moment for this!
In the end, being paid to shoot is what we all focus on, but testing gives us the possibility to become better photographers. Tests allow us to make the mistakes we don’t want to do when shooting customers. They give us the possibility to get better, to have more experience.
Do You Test?