Test Shoots & FAQ

rev.  Jan 2020

Chloe in London

A Test Shoot or TF* (Time For) projects is where I give my free time to shoot my personal and experimental work. In the past, it was mostly all about getting work published, but these days its more about the relaxed side of shooting. For me, it’s about travelling, meeting new people and creating some cool images with them without the stress or hassle of big teams.

The style of shoots I’m looking to do are the natural, raw and edgy. I want to keep it simple, work with cool people who are confident, enthusiastic and great fun!. Those are the 3 ingredients that make a great shoot. Everything else falls into place after that.

  • Confidence – Getting your picture taken can be a personal thing for some people, especially when in lingerie or nude. You need to be able to be confident in your self and trust my direction – Rock What You Got! Everybody is beautiful and it is my job to help you see it.  The “I need 2 more weeks in the Gym” excuse doesn’t cut it.
  • Enthusiastic – Where there is a will there is a way. My time is limited for test shoots, so I need to work with people who up for shooting and putting the effort into prepping clothes for it etc. There is nothing better for a photographer setting up a test shoot when a model is firing ideas and suggestions his way and have the clothes / looks all ready to go etc.
  • Great Fun – Test shoots are fun shoots! I’m a chilled out photographer generally and I love a good pun and stupid jokes. Working with people who are good craic and fun is a must! I try to get as much planning and prep done before the shoot as we can in order to leave the actual shoot day as relaxed and fun as possible.

My schedule is pretty full with my corporate work so it is for this reason I have to be selective with test shoots. If I approach you asking to do a test shoot, it is more than likely because I like your look and have some ideas for you which I will share.

If you want to shoot with me,  approach me with a great idea for a shoot, preferably something I have not done before and should suit my style of photography.

Test shoots are an opportunity to try out new:

  • Shooting styles
  • Work with different models
  • Equipment & Light setups
  • Hair and Make-up Team members
  • Potential models
  • Potential Locations
Christina in Dubai

Is this only for agency Models?

Most of the tests will be with agency models or people who have some experience. Occasionally though, there will be an amazing new face out there that has never had a good photo taken and whom would be great. I, in particular, want to work with these people.

If your an agency model and you need permission to test shoot, I will leave it up to you to organise that. If your booker needs the photographer to contact them, let me know their details.

Where do the shots go?

These are test shoots – not commercial shots, magazine shoots or commercial gain. They are relaxed shoots where we both can try out and experiment with new looks or just get some updated looks for your portfolio, Instagram, FaceBook etc.

  • We will both sit down at the end of the shot to pick the final shots to use. So don’t worry about that terrible out of focus shot being used or that experiment pose didn’t look good.
  • You will have free shots to use the shots for your portfolio ( online & print) and I will have the same
  • If any magazines or publications want to use the shots for any reason, they need to talk to the copyright holder with is me ( photographer always owns the copyright)
  • If you change carrier in a few years and need photos taken from my website here – that is no problem.

Larina at Home

Test Shoot Ideas

We need a plan. The first stage is to decide what we are going to shoot and where. Depending on your look and style of shoot you have done in the past, we can exchange some ideas as to what we might do and take it from there. For example it is see what level you want to do e.g. .ingerie, implied nude etc.. Please don’t be offended if I send you an idea you are not comfortable with. Just let me know that this is not something you are interested in doing.

WhatsApp is generally the best way to chat and swap ideas as photos can be easily looked back on and referenced. Instagram can be a bit of a pain as you can’t send images from some folders on your phone.

If we can find common ground on some things that we want to shoot, great we can move on. If we can’t then that is no problem and we won’t work together. No harm done.

Kirsty at home

Test Shoot Location

These days I like to travel for shoots. Studio shoots can be boring ( sometimes) and shooting on location can give me a different look for each shoot.  Shooting in models or friends houses or apartments is no problem all my gear is portable. Once the location has some little bit of interest, we can make it work (lighting and the model can do the rest)

  • If we are shooting in my studio it is HERE. I can pick people up from the bus at Gorey
  • If using your location, send me some pictures of it first and see if we can have like a 3-4 hour window of no interruptions
  • Show me Pics – You might straight away say your place is terrible… but I might see it differently was I can imagine it with the lights etc.
  • Hotels & AirBNB – Often when travelling, I rent hotels or cool apartments for shoots

Test Shoot Prep – Looks & Clothes

As mentioned above, my test shoot time is limited. I have 1 day in total to allow for a shoot including prep, shooting and retouching. It is for this reason that we need to have as much planning done as we can so that we don’t waste time on the day shooting. So… you have some homework to do 🙂

This is a casual shoot, so there is no need (usually) to go out and buy clothes. The style will be simple and sexy, its all about showing off you as a person and your attitude…. not so much about your clothes. Most of the time, test shoots are just me and the model with no style team involved, so the model has to style themselves. The best way to do this I found is:

  • Based on our shoot ideas, have a look through your wardrobe and pull 10 looks that you think suit the style we are going for
  • Try on the looks and take a picture and send them on
  • *Remember* What looks good in person does not always look good on camera, so pic help
  • From those 10, we can narrow it down to the best 5 to shoot

I generally need to know what you are going to wear / bring to the shoot so I can plan for that. Setting up lights can take time, so when I have my list of shots that I want to get, it makes things faster.

Not only does this excersie help us to prep and plan the shoot, it also shows that you are enthusiastic and invested in the shoot and putting in the work.

* Don’t bring a Suitcase Full of Clothes *

This is generally a terrible idea as it means that of the 3 hour shooting time, we spend 1 hour just looking through your case to see what you have and what looks good. All you need is a bag with the 5 best looks and maybe some other stuff that you threw in afterwards.

Hayley in Studio

Hair & Makeup

If you are great at doing your own hair and makeup – great. Remember, this is not a magazine or glamour shoot – it is about you, your confidence and attitude. Try to keep things as natural as possible to let the real you shine through. Don’t cake on the makeup that looks terrible on camera. Don’t have your face a different colour do you your body under flash. This is a common mistake, having a white pal face in comparison to a brown fake tanned body.

We don’t want rock hard hair full of spray as it limits us to the kind of movement that we might want to try. Hair extensions can look awful for this type of shoot as if your trying to run your hands through your hair for a moody look… the bonds can be on full shoot.

Big mad Fake Eye Lashes are a NO NO – Big fake eyelashes are a no no. They look terrible and they are so big that they can actually block light getting into your eye and make your eyes look dead. Not to mention they can be heavy.

In general, arrive at a shoot bare and fresh and we can build it up from there.

Can I bring someone with me?

Absolutely – If you have never worked with a photographer before, it is never a bad idea to bring someone along. Just note the following:

  • They are not to interfere with the shoot unless they are directly involved i.e. makeup or hair. We don’t need any armchair directors
  • Make sure they are not under time pressure – in case we get delayed and shoot a bit extra etc.
  • If your partner is the jealous type or not cool with you doing shoot… then it might not be wise to bring them with you. We want good vibes only 🙂
  • Sometimes chaperons/friends can actually be helpful if they are needed to hold a light or reflector
Hayley getting some hair adjusting in Studio

Lets Chat

If we haven’t met before, let’s make sure to chat on the phone at some point before the shoot. It is always great to have verbal communication as it is a form of ice breaking. It is the start of the report & trust building and it instantly helps things on the day of the shoot.

Let’s chat to make sure we are on the same page with our ideas so avoid any confusion

Picking the shots to use

One thing that I have done since the very start of my shooting ( 8 years ago now) is to show people the picture that we have taken and allow them the chance to pick their favs. I hate hearing about people who received their photos from another photographer and they hate the photos for whatever reason.

  • Allow 2-3 hours after the shoot to chill, relax and go through the pictures with me
  • We will delete the trash on our first viewing ( 90% of the shots)
  • On our 2nd time around we will pick the 4* shots, the ones we really like
  • On the 3rd viewing, we are picking the 5*…. the fav shots. These are the ones to be retouched and used.

We may not always agree on which shots to use, but we can always compromise.

140108_ madelinem_faces
We will go through all the shots on a computer together, picking the best

Final Shots Delivery

Picking up prints ( note the tan on the hands tough)

The aim is to have zero retouching needed for images. If that happens, then the shots can be delivered straight away that day so it is done and dusted. Less retouching time means the more shots we can pick and use. If there is anything to be retouched, then it can take up to 28 days to get to it.

If we are shooting in the studio, I generally like to give people some prints going home after their shoot. These are usually not retouched shots, but 90% of what the end image will be.

Remember, keep the Face Tan off to ensure less retouching time.

Fake Tan

Fake tan — Don’t do it!! The key to a cool shoot is attitude and confidence. Learn to love you – the real you and not what comes out of a bottle onto your skin.

99% of the time fake tan for shoots is a bad idea. You actually don’t really need it and it can just look bad on camera. What you may think you need and looks good in a mirror, does not always look the same on camera under lights.

See below an example of a clients shoot ruining tan – used with permission of a client. She already had a natural tan but still wanted “to be browner”. She would not use take tan but arrived brown and claiming to have the best spray tan ever….. This what was the result.

“But you can fix it in photoshop” – This is not the attitude. I use Photoshop ( very little) to enhance images, not fix them. Time is valuable, something like this can take up to 30mins per photo to fix.

  • Most of my work is Black & White – So your skin tone does not have that much of an effect
  • Time is Money – I allocate approx 3 hours in total to retouch a shoot. The less retouching per photo means we can use more photos
  • Confidence – Confidence is key, you are an amazing person and YOU are not judged on your skin tone. Nowhere in the world does it really say “You are a better person brown”

fake tan -1

Jesus Richie…. what’s with all the rules?

You are probably thinking that this is too many rules for a test shoot and that I sound like some dictator. If you think that then no problem. This is not for you. I just value my time now ( as should you) and when all the information is here, it reduces the amount of confusion, cancellations, n0-shows etc.

If you have done a few shoots before, then you will know that all of the above is just common sense and natural 🙂


  • My Studio is based in North Wexford (Map)
  • We shoot for quality over quantity
  • You will get 4-6  edited images, depending on the shoot and how many great shots we get
  • We sit down after the shoot and edit the shoot together narrowing down the list and decide which ones will be retouched
  • I own copyright i.e. you cannot edit, sell or have images published without my permission
  • You cover all your own costs getting to and during the shoot and I cover mine
  • Some handy information for new models here:

If you have any questions regarding a test, Contact Me. Remember to approach me with an idea for test.


Shooting in LA