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Testing

Spec Work

Q:

In the directing world, spec work is a way to break in. In photography, would you recommend photographing specific brands on spec to build your portfolio, or using no brands whatsoever?

A:

In the photo world, clients want to see your overall style match their brand. Build your portfolio to show the look and feel your favorite clients cater to, and use this “spec” concept to incorporate the products your ideal clients will need to see. If you want to get beer campaigns, put in some cans or bottles and show off how your shiny condensation skills fit your cohesive vibe. Displaying the type of product is more important than the specific brand of the product.

Testing for a Client


Q:

What are your thoughts on testing for a client, at the client’s request. Should you ask for your costs to be covered?

A:

Testing for a client is not an industry standard request. I’m reluctant to encourage you to test for a client because it will most likely mean you won’t have the proper budget to do it right, and the image quality might suffer. If the quality of your work is at risk then I would say it’s not worth it.

New to the World of Commercial Photographers


Q:

I am relatively new to the world of commercial photography. I am currently employed by a marketing agency as an in-house photographer to work on clients like Dickies. I am able to execute the multi-tasking nature that is required in this job serving in the roles of producer/photographer/creative director, etc. I am basically a freelancer on a full-time payroll. I recognize that my growth potential here is limited, and ultimately I want to be pursuing commercial photography full-time. However, I’m having a hard time reaching the right clients outside of work. What would you advise?

A:

This is the type of scenario that could help you in the short term and hurt you in the long term if you don’t keep your portfolio growing. You need to do that on your own, after work. Focus your test work on showcasing the exact kind of job you want to book. Your full-time job won’t do that for you. Take advantage of the financial security of a full-time job to test as much as possible.

Test Shoots for New Photographers

Q:

For photographers “just starting out,” what are some test shoots every photographer should have in their portfolio? Liquid? Automotive? Lifestyle?

A:

Photographers starting out should choose the area that really interests them. Do the tests that really intrigue you when you see others. One way to do that is to go through other photographer’s websites to check out all the different industry options.

Advice for Aspiring Photographers


Q:

What advice can you give to aspiring photographers?

A:

Explore. I don’t even call it testing anymore. Explore and expand your look without losing all that specific edge to your style. As I said before, all photographers need to rediscover themselves on a regular basis. Educate themselves, look at others, assist and learn as much as possible. 

 

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of social media but I think new photographers could really benefit from thinking beyond social media for their marketing as well. Send emails. Write people on LinkedIn. Go to lunch. Meet people in person. Aspiring photographers may need to get creative by finding ways to connect.

 

Guest Post: Interview w/ Mara Serdans

www.MarasMix.com