Model Testing is an opportunity for a photographer and model to build their portfolios together. It is foundational to nearly every career in beauty and fashion photography. Working with professional models and modeling agencies can be an intimidating step for many photographers, but by understanding their needs as a business, photographers can gain confidence knowing when to ask and how to contact modeling agencies for model testing.
Elizabeth Wiseman is a fashion and commercial photographer with studios based in St. Louis, MO and Knoxville, TN. Before her photography career, Elizabeth actually worked in a modeling agency. Her experience on both the agency and photography sides of model testing gives her an expert perspective on how to contact and collaborate with modeling agencies to produce effective, marketable images for the agency and your portfolio alike.
In this Model Testing tutorial, Elizabeth covers:
Welcome to Model Testing with photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman. In this tutorial, follow an industry leader, to learn how to build a solid foundation in fashion photography, through model testing. Learn how to create a relevant and effective portfolio that satisfies industry expectations. Create effective marketing material through images that create opportunities for the models and ultimately, you the photographer. Create a pathway for yourself to break through the editorial and commercial barriers, with a meaningful production approach. Learn agency language and develop a repeatable workflow to deliver consistent, energetic, intentional images in editorial and commercial context. Build a fashion photography career by laying down a firm foundation with model testing.
Approaching Model Tests (3:15)
Join photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman in a candid sit down, as she defines model testing. Hear her industry insight as she discusses the importance of aligning with agencies and models to build an industry standard portfolio of work. Begin to lay the foundation of a fashion photography career.
Understanding Modeling Agencies (5:01)
To begin building a foundation, understand what modeling agencies do. Understand their central role in staffing a photographer’s shoot with professional, diverse, and industry aligned talent. Conversely, understand the photographers role in helping to build successful model portfolios that align with all of those standards, so that everyone benefits. Gain a high level perspective of an agency’s business and marketing approach.
Model Categories (5:47)
With a foundational understanding of the purpose of a model test and the integral role of a modeling agency, listen as Elizabeth defines two of the main agency model categories - Editorial and Commercial.
Approaching Modeling Agencies (5:36)
With language and insight, learn how to properly approach a modeling agency for your model test production. Identify the components of your portfolio that will position you to attract agency attention and begin winning model testing work.
Establishing Principles (3:43)
Winning an agency model test is only part of the process. It is important to define your approach and principles as a photographer as you create a portfolio around this genre. Learn the importance of owning every detail of your production and aligning with agency feedback.
Posing Tips (7:43)
With a vocabulary and solid industry base of knowledge, go in studio with photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, as she breaks down the fundamentals of effectively posing a model.
Choosing A Location (3:58)
Join photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, in the first editorial photo shoot of this series. Before beginning production, learn to identify what elements to look for in selecting a successful and appropriate location for your photo shoot. Examine the relationship of the wardrobe, background, and overall aesthetic to the location you choose. Plan with intention and purpose to create an effective model test portfolio of images.
Executing A Shotlist (12:30)
Follow photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, as production begins. See her approach for creating a high quality, editorial model test. Build consistency and a plan for every look by following an intentional shot list. Capture 4 main shots - a headshot, three quarters shot, full body shot, and sitting shot. Utilize a consistent process of image capture with intentional goals that supports any creative look.
Utilizing Makeup (14:46)
Transition to a new editorial look. In this setup, re-enforce executing a shot list, observing Elizabeth’s process. Learn to direct your model, give visible feedback and clear direction. And hear Elizabeth’s insight on the value and importance of having a professional makeup artist as a part of your production workflow.
Move into another editorial look building on your experience with pose, directives, giving verbal feedback to your models. In this shoot, listen as photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, shares her industry experience and insight in working with stylists versus managing your own styling decisions. Define the importance of a neutral color palette, body type, creating clean lines, and integrating texture into your wardrobe decisions.
For this editorial shoot, focus on the importance of simple lighting in a model test. Leverage natural light and a single strobe for clean, beautiful, professional results, while maintaining an efficient and speedy workflow. For this editorial look, focus on prompting the model to leverage a monochromatic and layered look, to create clean lines, emphasize angles, and variance in pose.
For the final editorial shoot, distinguish the characteristics of editorial posing. Learn to emphasize the length of a model’s body and the beauty of their face. Develop the ability to see and create interesting and professional posing that will communicate the possibility of a model in any editorial context.
Utilizing Makeup (13:37)
Switch focus to a commercial model test shoot. Follow photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, as she employs the same strategy in communication, interaction and goals for a shot list. But in this context, identify and differentiate how make-up and directives for the model diverge from editorial shoots.
Watch as photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, perfectly integrates the model choice, wardrobe, and location to create a textured, layered, and very natural series of images. Learn how to prompt and guide your model through body language, clear direction and directives. Continue to implement a dedicated shotlist to create a variety of options for the collective portfolio and agency approval.
Transition to a different setup and wardrobe for a new commercial look. Focus on how to position your model using natural light and a single strobe setup to create a clean aesthetic. Learn what details of lighting separate this commercial context from an editorial one. Define the characteristics that create a clean, approachable, and intentional lighting setup, with the goal of establishing a connection with your model. Master your ability to create imagery evoking an aspirational image in a commercial, advertising context.
Compare and contrast commercial posing with editorial aesthetics. Follow Elizabeth as she identifies the characteristics of commercial posing - with an emphasis on energy and movement. Define the goal and purpose of a commercial model so that you can effectively pose and create the correct mood and energy with your models.
Photoshoots Retrospective (4:08)
With the editorial and commercial shoots complete, join photographer Elizabeth Wiseman as she recaps and reviews her process and philosophy. Review her approach to her lighting, gear settings, image composition and communication style before transitioning into post production phase of the model test process.
Editorial Culling (9:17)
Enter the post production phase of the model test by culling through Elizabeth’s editorial captures. Listen as she describes and defines what she is looking for from the photographer’s perspective, as well as what interests an agency.
Editorial Edit (8:07)
After culling, move forward into retouching an editorial image select. Watch Elizabeth’s entire process, adjusting color, retouching subtle skin details, recomposing and finishing to create a balanced, professional image. Learn to define where to draw efficient boundaries to keep your retouching workflow simple and focused.
Commercial Culling (9:07)
Cull through a series of commercial captures to find the ideal select. Listen and observe as Elizabeth defines the character traits of what she is looking for as a portfolio piece and fulfilling agency expectations for a commercial model test.
Commercial Edit (7:08)
Using Photoshop, follow Elizabeth as she enhances and exhibits the natural, vibrant energy of a commercial model test shoot. Adjust color, retouch minor skin details, and apply dimension to the image for a finished, professional look.
Homework Assignment (1:44)
It’s your turn to implement all of the lessons learned. Utilize the included RAW select, curated by photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman to stretch your retouching capabilities. With the included image, retouch a single image into two different variants. Create a commercial and editorial aesthetic and share your results with us!
Foundations of a Fashion Photography Career (6:11)
Gain inside industry perspective. Listen as photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman, reflects on her career. Hear how she used her foundation in photography to identify a market, identify an industry need, develop a portfolio, and build up a business to create a portfolio for a successful fashion photography career.
Analyzing Your Market (7:47)
Create a mindset and approach to analyze your own market and establish how you want to define your own fashion photography career. Identify your market and develop a sense of how you can be effective to create images that are industry standard and aligned with agency and model needs to advance your portfolio and create opportunities.
Closing Thoughts (2:24)
Congratulations on completing Model Testing with photographer, Elizabeth Wiseman. We hope that you enjoyed the tutorial. The best way to retain all of the information is to put it into practice. We’d love to see your work and encourage you to share your results with our community. Never stop learning!
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