Besides being an opportunity to add some quality photos to your portfolio and improve your set of skills, a test shoot is also an opportunity to build lasting relationships with professionals in the industry. It helps to have people on set who know you like the back of your hand, making sure the production process turns into a symbiotic partnership. Just ask Cincinnati-based photographer Jeremy Kramer who collaborated with his most trusted clan of creatives in the commercial and editorial space.
Jeremy decided to set up a test shoot in conjunction with his go-to hair and makeup artist Ariani Victoria and brought along his main assistant of around five years, Andrew Doench, whose insight Jeremy has relied on for productions of all kinds. Also tagging along this time was wardrobe stylist Sydney Murdock.
This was only my second time working with Sydney Murdock, our wardrobe stylist. It had been a few years since we had linked up the first time but after seeing some of her recent work (including an amazing shoot with fellow Wonderful Machiner Clay Cook) I had to get back in touch.
After some conversations with Sydney about the wardrobe, Jeremy was able to figure out the right template for the set and lighting, choosing a backdrop that integrated well with all the elements of the shoot. The pre-production process was a breeze as wardrobe, lighting, and the backdrop were the only significant components needing much attention. With the goal of adding some fresh new images to the team members’ portfolios, Jeremy and his crew were more than ready to snap some images.
Since the core team for this shoot was people I work with a lot, the vibe on set was super relaxed and we all felt very confident we would create something awesome. I always have the model pick the music on set as well, I think that helps them feel just that little bit more relaxed.
Shooting in a studio definitely had its advantages. There were no major calamities that befell the group barring a small issue with the first set having dappled lighting. No worries, because Andrew was able to stand by the gobo to make sure the model’s face wasn’t shrouded in darkness.
Without any distressing problems regarding the shoot, the images turned out great. Responses to the photos on Jeremy’s social media accounts have been overwhelmingly positive. This has encouraged him to enter the project, along with some others, into award competitions, feeling that his work will have greater longevity in print formats.
Either way, the importance of test shoots can’t be understated, giving photographers new opportunities to better themselves and take the initiative.
Test shoots are invaluable for a few reasons to me. They give me a low-pressure opportunity to work with new talents or try out new techniques. A lot of the client work we do either cannot be shared or can’t be shared for a long time so test shoots give me an opportunity to consistently share new work as I progress.
This project was one that felt perfect for Jeremy right from its conception to the very end when the images were ready. The response on social media and beyond is evidence of this, and since Jeremy has booked gigs directly from his test shoots before, we’re certain his next client is picking up the phone right now.
Hair and Makeup: Ariani Victoria
Wardrobe: Sydney Murdock
Assistant: Andrew Doench