Japanese Hair and Make-up Artist Ryoko Ushio had only just moved to Cardiff when she was confined inside thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Newly released into the outside world and wanting to improve the variety in her portfolio, Ryoko organised a pair of collaborative test shoots with other Freelancer Club members on a tennis court in north-west London.


Having worked in her native Japan for over 8 years as a professional hair and makeup artist, Ryoko Ushio has experience in everything from magazines and music videos to product campaigns and fashion editorials. She draws her inspiration from the models themselves,


capturing their lifestyles and personalities into each carefully crafted shot. Keen to get into the beauty industry, she has been taking in some essences and successful artwork from this sector to inform her own work.

For every project, Ryoko makes a series of mood boards to capture her vision. She combines her first impressions of each model and their portfolio with inspiration from Pinterest, categorizing them into concept boards allowing her to decide on the colour tones. Once these base ideas have been chosen, she makes a point to think carefully about the way she wishes to express her chosen aesthetic and how to make it appeal to the world. 


She pulled out all the stops and made over 7 different concept mood boards for her most recent collaborative project series. They focused on an effortless and playful style with iconic red and smoky colours as well as glitter and metallic tones.
Sourcing almost her entire creative team from Freelancer Club, Ryoko headed up the shoots as creative director and project manager, as well as doing the hair and make-up for both models, Patricia Palazsnik and Kearnna. The rest of the creative team included photographers Jodine Williams, Victoria Chetley and Amelia May Cox - who was keen to note that they all “worked very well as a team considering we had never met each other before!”

Everybody involved thought the shoots went very well despite the cold weather! Jodine Williams said that “Ryoko was very easy to work with” whilst Amelia May praised the beauty of her looks adding that “Ryoko’s concepts and make-up looks were great and all our skills worked hand in hand to create some strong and unique photos showcasing the make up.”

While the first shoot took place in Bright Banana Studios in London, of which Amelia said it “was a great little creative space”, the second took place in Golders Green park in north-west London. Jodine thought the location “acted as a lovely backdrop for the photos. We first used the tennis courts and then continued into the greenery of the park. The tennis courts provided a great location for the images and made them pop.”


Altogether, Ryoko was able to get some stunning images for her portfolio that really showcased the wide range of skills in her make-up and hair looks. She maintains that having a strong portfolio is key to landing jobs “because we must prove our creative skills and aesthetic sense to our future clients. That kind of thing won’t be approved by texting or talking by month.”

Test shoots are one of the best ways for freelancers to create new pieces of work for their portfolios, no matter their experience level! Your portfolio is often the only thing standing between you and that dream client. When asked about the importance of portfolios, Amelia May explained:

“I believe having a strong portfolio is one of the most important factors when it comes to landing jobs. Your portfolio should be a place to showcase your best work as well as to express your style and creativity. Clients will want to see a portfolio that demonstrates variety, skill and creativity so by ensuring your portfolio shows this, you give yourself the best chance at landing a job!”


Just like many of our members, Ryoko often uses collaborations to further her freelance career. She believes working with other freelancers “has various beneficial aspects. The work itself will help you appeal your creative skill and passion to other creators or clients. Also you can widen your networking which you aim to approach and sometimes it will directly connect to a new job.”

Amelia May thinks that joining forces with other freelancers is vital when starting out. “Doing collaborations with other freelancers has been a massive part of building my career as a freelance photographer, especially back in the beginning of my career! It allowed me to meet other creatives in the industry, build and expand my portfolio, land extra paid jobs and get my name around as a photographer - as it’s not always what you know but who you know!”


There’s nothing like getting expert advice from seasoned test shoot professionals, especially if you’ve never done a test shoot before. Ryoko and Amelia both gave us some great pointers for anyone about to list their first test shoot.

For Ryoko, having belief in yourself is the key to success. “Be confident in your creative skills. Also, I bet any shootings or meetings will allow you to have new findings and a path to your goal, so don’t hesitate!

Amelia May thinks that it’s important to remember to have fun. “It's completely normal to feel a bit nervous before a test shoot because you’re having to work as a team with people you’ve never met before! Communicate with your fellow creatives beforehand and discuss in detail the concepts, inspiration and outcome of the shoot. Remember, don’t put too much pressure on yourself- it’s supposed to be fun! It’s an opportunity for you all to be creative, build/expand your portfolios and network so it should be fun, not scary!”

Collaborating on test shoots with other freelancers is the best way to get ahead in your career whilst learning new techniques, tips and tricks from other industry professionals that can help you create new, unique work that will set you apart from the competition when applying for jobs. 

If you’d like to browse the available test shoots or even set up one of your own, don’t forget to check out the collaborations board.

Want to read about other exciting test shoots from our members? Check out our recent feature on the ‘Complete the Brief” competition winner Juliette Chidwick and her monochrome Fashionballet concept.

Photographer Credits:
Preview Photo: Jodine Williams
All images taken from Test Shoot

Photographers: Amelia May, Jodine Williams and Victoria Chetley
Models: Patricia Palazsnik and Kearnna
Hair&makeup, project management: Ryoko Kamito
Also special thanks to models Katya and Chelsea from 25 model management for being part of the project