13 Jan

What is testing?  It’s putting together a photo shoot for strictly portfolio and website use.  It’s basically doing all of the hard work that you normally get paid handsomely for, free of charge.  A misunderstanding that a lot of people have is that working for free stops when you reach a certain level.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t work on personal work.  The almighty gods that hire you want to see what you have to offer other than tear sheets.  Furthermore, testing is a great way to create an image for your website that represents the jobs you hope to get.  It’s also a great opportunity to go through a test run of working with a new crew.  It’s hard when you’re assisting to create your own work because you don’t have the time.  You can’t use the images you’ve assisted on in your portfolio, therefore you need to test yourself silly to create images that you can be proud of to put on your website.

When the economy hit the fan in late 2008, the industry slowed down to a snails pace and everyone was a little freaked.  I saw this as a great opportunity to approach all the photographers who normally didn’t have the time to test to work with me.  I would be up in the middle of the night coming up with fun test ideas that I wanted to approach some of my favorite photographers in the city to collaborate with me on.  My plan really worked and I built a lot of great working relationships and friendships for years to come.

It’s important to know that not all tests become portfolio pieces.  Since everyone is working within a really tight budget, sometimes not everything comes together.  The hardest part is getting a crew together on a day where everyone is free.  A lot of times there are last minute replacements that don’t work out in your favor.  The thing to remember if something goes awry is that it’s never a waste of time.  You’re still working with new people, making personal connections and learning.  That’s why you test and will always need to test, even if you’re portfolio is already stocked up with amazing images.

To hear more about the transition from photo assisting to photographer or other crew member, attend Life After Assisting Seminar on January 22, 2010 at Columbia College, Studio East, 3rd Floor 1006 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL

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