Test shoots can take up a lot of time but get it right and it can be really worthwhile. A successful shoot can result in a great day with loads of images in your portfolio. However, it’s not always smooth sailing, mistakes are made and it can be a complete waste of time. Here are our Top Mistakes that are made when test shooting and how to prevent them:

Before we dive in, it's important to know what a test shoot is. In simple terms, it's a photoshoot with a group of people looking to add images to their portfolios. It is NOT unpaid work as nobody is making money from the images and everyone involved should be contributing in some way. Okay, now that's out of the way, let's look at what not to do! 

1. Going in without a concept. If your concept or idea for your test shoot is not clear, confusing, or non-existent, the day is unlikely to be productive, the images won’t be to a high standard and you will have no one to blame but yourself. Use moodboards, storyboards, cutouts or anything that you can visually show the other members of your team to make them understand exactly what you are trying to achieve. 

2. Choosing the wrong team. If you’re the one organising the test shoot and in charge of assembling the team, make sure you choose wisely. You don’t want a team with mixed levels of experience or single-minded personalities - too many cooks and all that... You also don’t want people with clashing ideas because that will throw the whole day and atmosphere off. Try to put a team together who are at similar levels with similar ideas so that you produce strong work that meets everyone’s expectations. A good chat beforehand and a meet up often puts that to rest. 

Quick tip: ask everyone to write down what they'd like to get out of the shoot before you start. If anyone raises concerns during the shoot, take out the piece of paper and check if it was listed to begin with. 

3. Don’t micromanage. You have handpicked your team because they are talented; don’t restrict them. Instead, let them express their creativity. It is a collaboration and everyone should have an input. However, if you find that on the day there is a weak link, have a private word and see if you can steer them in the right direction. The best leaders are those who can cope with situations in a calm and friendly manner, not shout out a freelancer and blow the shoot.  

4. Don’t be late. Aside from not showing up at all, turning up late to a test shoot is the worst. You wouldn’t do it for a paid job because people are relying on you, so don’t do it at a test shoot, where people are, well, counting on you! It’s a collaboration that can’t start until the whole team is there. If you can't make it, let the team know as soon as possible and do everything you can to find a replacement. Burying your head in the sand will harm your reputation. It's a smaller industry than you might think! 

5. Be serious when you’re working, be fun when you wrap. A lesson that often takes years to learn is that when you work with real pros, they focus when on set - no messing around. True, it's not a paid job nor is it life or death - it's much more important than that, it's fashion darling! So, work as a team when you start and be professional. Once you wrap, crack open the champers and douse yourselves in the glory of a job well done. 

Test shoots allow you to make very strong connections and the collaborative nature is a powerful thing so enjoy each other and happy test shooting! To set up a test shoot, use our new Post a Test page to set up your team. 

You may also like Top 5 Tips for Testing, What is a Test Shoot, how to set up a test shoot and Tips for Concepts.