Scheduling Model Test Shoots

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

My first step when working with a new model is to schedule a test shoot that usually takes two hours during which I’ll typically make two hundred photographs. I start the process with interview where I’ll look at her portfolio (if she has one) and go on to show her the kind of images I produce. This exchange establishes rapport and the model has a chance to give feedback on my photography that can affect the kind of images made during the test shoot.

During the test, I shoot in both color and black & white images. (I’ve mentioned my philosophy of shooting B&W and color at the same time; you can read it here.) These days, more often than not, I’ll be shooting mirrorless using a Panasonic Lumix GH4 or Olympus EM-5 Mark I, sometimes both during a session. For lenses, I’ll use the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (90mm equivalent) or the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (28-90mm equivalent.)

As far as lighting is concerned: There are photographers who prefer using available light by which they mean “every light that’s available” but I prefer to work with as few lighting tools as possible and concentrate on the model, not the equipment. For the portrait of Dalia, I used Westcott’s Strobelite Plus with a 36-inch umbrella. The background is a Savage Infinity matte black vinyl backdrop that I like to use for these kinds of shots because it’s non-reflective. Exposure for the above portrait was

I don’t have a formula for posing. I try to accent a model’s good points and minimize the ones she’s self-conscious about, even if I think she’s wrong. I tell each model—and wholeheartedly believe it—that I want to make each of them too look as beautiful as possible. And that’s my goal of a test shoot, to make great pictures that makes the model happy and one that helps us toward a longstanding partnership in creating great photographs together.

Joe is author of Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography that features information about using minimal equipment demonstrating how to shoot glamour portraits in available light situations or using minimal lighting like speedlights. Affordable new and used copies are available from