How to organise a Test Shoot: The Idea

 In For Photographers

We would have loved to write an article about organising a test shoot; however, we realised that one article alone would have been way to big to be easily digested and understood. We decided to write a series of articles on this, focusing every single one on a particular area of the organisation. We hope you will be able to dig deeper in every area for the next couple of weeks, so to organise great shoots.
There are two rules we will stress on in every article of the series: your organisation and your communication skills; both of them are vital to create a well orchestrated test. These are the foundation stone of every good shoot.

Your Organisational Skills

One of the critical element of a well organised shoot is… well your organisation. It may seem obvious, but more often than not it isn’t.
How do you keep the information regarding a shoot organised? How will you keep track of the applications? Will you rely on your paper notebook? Or are you going to keep the information regarding the possible team members in an application? These are things you should decide before starting organising a shoot.
When we organise large shoots with many applicants and various roles, we rely on a spreadsheet to contain all the information we need. Models, Makeup Artists, Hair Stylists, Stylists, Assistants and everyone we may need. Name, website, email, mobile phone, notes, personal evaluation.
Make sure you can access all the information you need promptly and in the easiest way!

Your Communication

Another extremely important task that will be on your shoulders is the communication. Organising a shoot means that you will dictate the tempo, from the casting call to the confirmations, and your timing is critical. If you usually reply in a couple of days, I would strongly suggest thinking back. What are you going to do when you will receive a hundred of applications?
In this industry, a lot of people think “no reply is a clear reply“. Let me tell you that this is just an unprofessional attitude you will meet a lot of time. It may happen that you forgot to reply to someone, but it should be an exception, not the rule. Our rule is to reply to everyone who applies to a casting call, even if to say “sorry, you do not have the look we are after for this specific shoot“.
This is, in our humble opinion, a professional behaviour.

Mood Board

You may have the most amazing idea for a shoot, or you may just only be focussed on your usual style, but as long as you are not able to make others embrace your vision, your shoot is not going to fell through. One of the elements of a successful casting and test shoot is the fact that everyone is in the know of what will be shot, and the best way of making this is to have a mood board.
A mood board is a collection of images that you keep as inspiration for the shoot. They are not images you will copy verbatim, but a list of images that contain element you want to re-use, making yours, for your test. Make sure to understand that a mood board is not a posing manual or a list of images that will be re-created. A mood board is indicative of the mood you want to give to your shoot, with your style! The best way of creating a mood board nowadays is Pinterest (please make sure to follow their rules)!

Posing Manual

If you are starting up and you want to make sure to capture everything you really want, you can prepare, for yourself and yourself alone, a posing manual. Have a list of images with poses you want to recreate is a good solution if you are not confident of remembering everything you need to do. If this happens to you, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Managing a shoot, especially in the beginning of your career, is a tough task, the important thing is the result!

Do you need help in expanding your portfolio or do you need coaching for shooting women? We have workshops for your needs!

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