How to Shoot a Model Test

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You have reached the archive of articles posted on my personal blog. This blog is no longer updated, but you can read my latest articles at my new website The Creative Photographer and find my photography ebooks at my new store.

Thanks for reading! Andrew.



Model test by Alba Soler

Note: The photos in this article were taken by Alba Soler, whose work was also featured in my ebook The Natural Portrait.

What is a model test?

When agencies contract models they need to assemble a selection of photos for the model’s book to show to clients. The book has to show the model’s natural beauty, physical qualities and her acting skills. The photos are an advertisement for the model and a good book becomes part of a model’s brand.

Agencies often use experienced photographers who understand the style the required. Tests are also a chance for a new model to gain experience in front of the camera, and a good photographer will teach the model how to hide her weaknesses and play to her strengths.

The job of the photographer is to create a series of strong images containing three different looks:

Natural: A natural look with natural attitude. Photos with minimal make-up are okay – the idea is to show the client what the model looks like and let her natural beauty come through.

More personality: Lets the personality and the attitude of the model come across more strongly.

Dramatic: Here you can take a risk and go for a more extreme look, or make the lighting more dramatic. Don’t take it too far though and lose sight of the the goal of a model test.

Here are examples of each style, all shot by Alba Soler of a young model called Claudia:

The natural look

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

More personality

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Dramatic

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

Model test by Alba Soler

What do you think? These photos were taken without a hairdresser or stylist, and most of them in natural light. They show what you can achieve with limited resources.

If you are good at taking portraits then perhaps one day you will get the opportunity to shoot some model tests yourself. Alba wrote about them in more detail (and with more photos) on her website. You can read the article in English here and in Spanish here.

Further reading

More interviews with portrait photographers:

Light and Landscape: The Portrait Photography of Sarah Ann Wright

Winter in Italy: An Interview with Portrait Photographer Anna Karnutsch

Colour and Light: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Alessio Albi

Colour and Contrast: An Interview With Portrait Photographer Cristina Hoch

The Creative Portrait Photography of Tori Mercedes

An Interview with Miss Aniela

An Interview with Photography Patrick Wack

Click the link for a list of all my interviews with photographers.

The Natural Portrait

The Natural Portrait ebook coverThe Natural Portrait teaches you how to take beautiful portraits in natural light. This 240 page ebook, published by Craft & Vision, takes you through the entire process of natural light portrait photography through from finding a model, deciding where to shoot, working with natural light and post-processing your images. Click the link to learn more or buy.

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« Light and Landscape: The Portrait Photography of Sarah Ann Wright |  Amongst the Shadows: An Interview with Portrait Photographer Alex Benetel »

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