Juliette Chidwick is one of those uber creative, multi-talented freelancers you occasionally meet in life. Not only is she an accomplished photographer but she also works as a stylist and a makeup artist.



Juliette won our very first ‘Complete the Brief’ competition after she blew our team away with her Swan Lake inspired submission in October.

As a part of her prize, Juliette was awarded a day in the reputable Simulacra Studios in London where she brought her creative vision to life.

In this piece, Juliette explains the origin of her concept, brings us behind the scenes of her test shoot, and shares some of the striking shots she captured on the day.


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A Ballet and Fashion Inspired Concept

Creatives are always encouraged to make art that’s informed by their own experiences, passions and interests and this is precisely what Juliette did when she developed her concept, Fashionballet. 

Throughout the past few years, Juliette’s been making a conscious effort to intertwine this concept into a variety of her projects. 

 “I love ballet and I love fashion, so I’ve been combining these two loves of mine in ongoing Fashionaballet projects for a couple of years now,” she explained.

The monochrome aspect of the ‘Complete the Brief’ campaign challenged her to develop a new look that she hadn’t yet explored as part of her Fashionballet concept. To create this aesthetic, she tapped into well-known characters within the world of ballet.ballerinas. Test Shoot Photography, Test Shoots London, Test Shoot for models

“With the ‘Complete The Brief’ competition having a Monochrome theme, I wanted to loosely translate this using the characters of Odette the white swan & Odile the black swan from the Swan Lake ballet as inspiration.” 

Creatives like Juliette tend to use a number of mediums to communicate their concept. To ensure that her ballet concept was effectively portrayed throughout her shoot, Juliette selected garments with a particular material and detail which reflected the essence and aesthetic of the characters Odette and Odile. 

“The clothes for this were intended to have a balletic & swan-like vibe with feathery material, tulle, net skirts, fringing & layers whilst looking like they could also be worn independently as quirky/fashionable clothes in their own right.”

It’s clear that Juliette left no stone unturned when it came to planning her shoot - she knew exactly what she needed well ahead of time.


Sourcing an Ambitious Team

When it comes to test shooting, experienced creatives know one thing for sure:

Strong creative teams produce strong work.

In other words, your work is only as good as the creative team you surround yourself with. 

As freelancing can be quite a solo pursuit for many creatives, test shooting allows us to elevate our work through collaboration with others who are experts in their fields.

If you’re a photographer, test shoot photography is a great way to develop new skills, ideas and techniques while adding to your portfolio. And as for models? We’d always recommend a test shoot for models who are looking to gain experience, improve their confidence and build up their portfolios.

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In Juliette’s case she turned her creative brief into amazing shots by working with talented makeup artists, hair stylists and models - many of whom she sourced through our platform and really enjoyed working with. 

“Three of the creatives for the shoot came from fellow Freelancer Club members: Lorna Fagan & Julia Dursun came along as two of the Makeup Artists and Melissa Magalini came along as the Hair Stylist. I have to say that the hair and makeup were fabulous, I was so impressed by their efficiency & the results. I would definitely work with any of them again.”

The rest of Juliette’s creative team included MUA Jessica Willard, and her mum Lisa Willard who ran the floor (a very valuable addition for any freelancer planning a test shoot!). She also brought in three dancer-models for the shoot, Natalia Dwyer, Sophie Morris & Grace Horneall, all of whom Juliette said “were equally fabulous in their ballet-modelesque performances for the camera.” 


Shooting in Simulacra Studio

The beauty of shooting in a professional studio like Simulacra Studio is they have facilities and equipment that enable shoots to run smoothly and comfortably for everyone involved. 

Want to organise a test shoot for models, MUA’s or other creatives who are keen to bring their creative concepts to life? Want to get test shoot photography experience? If you're looking for a quality studio for test shoots in London, you can find out all you need to know about Simulacra Studio here..  

It’s fair to say that Juliette was more than impressed with the experience and welcome she received there.

“The studio staff at Simulacra Studio were great. Maia, the Studio Manager, and her team were so helpful in getting the background supports/backdrop and lights set up for us and ensuring that the dancers had a private area to change in. There was also a dedicated and kitted out hair and makeup room which was really useful.”

Whether or not you have a professional studio to shoot in, it’s really important that the running order of a test shoot is established and shared with all members of the team before any work starts. In Juliette’s case, where she had multiple subjects and wardrobe changes, a clear, well communicated schedule was key.

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“I had 21 different wardrobe changes altogether for the 3 dancers, 7 outfits each. So I prepared a schedule, listing all the clothing changes and timings for each of the dancers and labelled up all the outfits with the dancers name and number sequence.” 

“As there were so many changes, a written schedule was used to ensure the day ran as efficiently as possible and Lisa made sure we kept to our timings as best as possible by taking charge of making sure each dancer was on set in time for their next shoot session.”

Key takeaway: Do up a schedule ahead of time to ensure that your test shoot runs well without any major blips.


Collaborations = Career Development

Like many of our members, Juliette has used collaborations with fellow creatives to advance her freelancer career.

The more contacts you make within the industry, the better chance you have of landing new opportunities where you gain experience, learn new skills, and make even more connections - it's all cyclical! 

Juliette is keenly aware of the importance and value that can be gleaned from working with fellow freelancers. As a result of doing this test shoot, for example, she was offered an opportunity to work on other jobs.

“From this collaboration, one of the makeup artists has asked me to work with her on a future upcoming music video shoot for a model who is also a musician. She also has me in mind for further editorial projects to use my additional styling expertise as I provided all the outfits myself for the ‘Complete The Brief’ shoot & she liked my style.

While Juliette’s primary offering is photography, “collaborations help to bring into focus additional creative services that I supply in addition to my Photography work.” 

It’s safe to say that Juliette has plenty of strings to her bow.

  ballerinas. Test Shoot Photography, Test Shoots London, Test Shoot for models

Using Test Shoots as Learning Experiences

Whether she’s hosting her own test shoot or partaking in some else's, Juliette views these collaborative experiences as spaces to take onboard new learnings. 

“Test shoots are always a way to integrate into a team, absorb and observe other people’s ideas & creativity.”

To illustrate this point, Juliette referenced a test shoot she did with a fellow Freelancer Club member.

“I was running a Glitter & Crystals beauty shoot and wanted another photographer to do the photographs while I concentrated on applying the makeup, glitter and crystals to the models - as being a makeup artist is another of my services. The photographer was also sourced from the Freelancer Club at the time, Clive Thompson. The test shoot was an opportunity to work with another photographer & to see how they operate.”


Practical Advice for Nervous Freelancers

We love sharing advice from seasoned freelancers on test shoots and Juliette’s advice is no exception. In fact, we really appreciate the frank and honest way in which she delivered her three top tips - she gets straight to the point:

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  1. Do your research on the subject matter of the test shoot. Make sure you fully understand the test shoot brief & what is required of you. Everyone else there will be like you, whether it’s their first test shoot or their tenth, they are in it with you. The whole point of a test shoot is that all the team pull together to make it work. So be confident in your abilities, you will have been invited in the first place because they like what they’ve seen. 

  2. For Meetups and Showcases etc., if you really need answers to things, have some questions prepared in advance, but also listen to others and take on board useful advice that is given to you and take note where you can, have a supply of business cards with you and ask others for theirs. 

  3. Whether it's a test shoot or a Meetup etc. be enthusiastic, be your friendliest and most professional version of yourself just as you would want people to be towards you. 

We’d recommend you copy and paste this advice from Juliette into your notes. The next time you're nervous about attending a test shoot or an event you’ll know exactly how to combat those nerves.


We’re so appreciative of the insights, advice and experience that Juliette generously shared with us for the purpose of this article.

Whether you’re someone who's looking to gain test shoot photography experience, set up a test shoot for models, stylists, makeup artists etc., or simply want to learn more about what’s involved in a test shoot, I hope this article has helped. 

If you’d like to get involved in test shoots London or elsewhere, we’d encourage you to post a test shoot here or join an existing test shoot here