If you're a photographer, I encourage you to consider shooting personal and test shoots, and I will explain why. If you are a business looking for a photographer - check the photographer's portfolio to see their style of work and attitude.

Personal shot, Levitating doughnut queen.
Personal shot, Levitating Doughnut Queen.

Someone could ask why an experienced photographer with many clients would do personal and test shots. And there is a good explanation for that.

As a creative, a portfolio is a must. Even when the photographer has enough clients, the work constantly evolves, style changes, or we, the creatives, even get bored watching the same photos all the time. That's where new personal shoots come in.

Build a portfolio that attracts the desired clients

Personal shoots are a great way to build a portfolio and attract the desired clients. That's the opportunity to showcase what the photographer can do to potential clients, to show them creativity, style, and the ability to capture fantastic images.

Personal photo shoots are an excellent opportunity to try something new before a customer decides to order. It is the time to try different lighting setups, styling, compositions, and editing techniques. This will help to find a unique voice as a photographer.

Network with other creative professionals

Also, personal shoots are a great way to network with other creative professionals. They are a chance to try new stylists, assistants, and collaborations with other photographers. These relationships can be invaluable for future projects.

Being a professional photographer requires continuous effort and is a full-time commitment. We need to train "our muscles" and minds to be prepared for the days when working with a client.

The best source for self-advertising

Personal shoots are also the best source for self-advertising and marketing content. Being the boss from the idea to the final release is a unique chance. In today's fast-paced social media, that's the only way to keep your profile active in media such as Instagram and connect with potential customers.

Behind the Scenes at home studio
Behind the scenes at my work corner.
Chilli topped tortilla chips on bright yellow background
Test shot, testing the light setup, colours and some camera angles.

What is the difference between personal and test shoots? 

In personal shoots, the photographer expresses his/her ideas and thoughts. The test shoots start with a specific task from a client but upfront of an incoming session in a safe and experimental environment without the pressure to deliver on time the end photograph. It is a way to face possible problems and prepare for the actual shooting day. That is crucial for every photographer and will give confidence and make the process more relaxed on a busy day with the client.

A few tips for getting the most out of the test shoots:

Plan ahead.

Before I start shooting, I take some time to plan. Maybe sketching the scene? Do I have everything I need to achieve that photograph? I stock all the props, food ingredients and techs I need and know if I have to rent more.

Test the equipment

If I have to buy a new piece or rent one, it is mandatory to know how it will work with my existing equipment and what to expect from it. I would rent it for 1-2 days in advance to try it out.

Time to experiment

Not to be afraid to try new things and experiment. This is the chance to find the best picture.

Make sure everything is stocked

Especially when I am responsible for the styling, I need many bits and bobs. Some deliveries need days.

Manage the time

Once the job is already done once, that saves time when setting everything on the day of the real shot.

Have fun!

Test photoshoots should be enjoyable. If it doesn't happen the first time, stop, think and try differently. Change what needs to be, tune, move, and take another angle, and also, take time to think of a plan B.

It makes the work later faster and easier under pressure if you have experience with the task. Also, showing the test photos to the clients gives them the certainty the photographer can create exactly what they want. Showing them a professional approach, having pleasure in the work and reaching the goals, can't be missed.


On the day with the client

Curious how the above test turned into a real shot with a client? Check out some of the final images I've done for Doughboys Pizza. It is not the same, isn't it? 😉

Client shot for Doughboys Pizza. Lifestyle photo with retro summer vibes. Picnic
Client shot for Doughboys Pizza. Lifestyle photo with retro summer vibes. Picnic
Client shot for Doughboys Pizza. Lifestyle photo with retro summer vibes. Cheesy pizza
Client shot for Doughboys Pizza. Lifestyle photo with retro summer vibes. Cheesy pizza
doughboys-veggie-retail
Client shot for Doughboys Pizza. Product photo. Veggie Giardino pizza

If you want to know more about my work for Doughboys Pizza, check my Client's page.