“Testing” in the modeling industry is a term with a few meanings. It can be used to describe a photo session where a model uses pictures obtained by a photographer for their own promotion in their portfolio or composite card. Testing may be recommended by the modeling agency to go to specific photographers that they prefer to work with. In this type of “testing” the model usually pays the “test photographer” for their service. Whether or not the money is paid up front by the model or the modeling agency depends upon a variety of factors. What is the policy of when their new models need testing? This is a question that may only be answered by each individual agency.
The location of the modeling agency, how many models they represent, the types of clients and models that they use, and some other financial policies are all factors in whether the agency will pre-pay for a model’s testing. Learn this lesson, now, that only a very, very small Oahu photographers amount of modeling agencies are willing to use their own money when paying for a model’s testing “up-front”. They want to be absolutely confident that the model will work for them, be a strong earner of money/prestige for the agency, and then the agency will deduct the testing fees later from the model’s first paycheck. The money for testing is ultimately paid for by the model sooner or later.
Some good news is that there are times when a photographer hires a model for their own testing. Sometimes they may “test” to either experiment with new equipment or photographic techniques. The photographer may even just want to test a new model or experiment with their own artistic freedom without working for a paying client. Depending on the experience and financial situation of the photographer, a model may or may not be compensated with any money, but maybe just prints for their portfolio. This type of testing may be referred to as TFPs (a.k.a. Time for Prints, Testing for Prints) or TFCD (a.k.a. Time for “picture” CD). Many of these opportunities are found on the Internet through social networks for models.
Most likely, though, the model is the one paying the test photographer, so the model must ensure that they are investing their money properly and wisely for their services when they are required to pay. Not all “testing” photographers are reputable, so always ask area modeling agencies which photographers they recommend or if there are ones that you should avoid. Some photographers may be new to working with models, so their rates should be equivalent to their experience. If you are paying a photographer to give you “Commercial” looks and they seem to have only fashion looks in their portfolio is an indicator that you should have them show you examples of their commercial work. You’ll be wasting your money if you are in a smaller, commercial area and you only have high fashion or editorial looks in your book. Commercial clients want to see specific types of “looks”. It may be very vague when you are going to a go-see, so even with commercial looks you should keep working to build you book with photos of a variety of commercial looks. Testing is exactly that…testing. Testing how you photograph, how you move in front of the photographer, or if you take direction well is part of this “test”. It’s not about sitting and posing and not being inspiring.