How to Use Test Shoots to Build a Wedding Portfolio

By Stephanie Williams on May 23rd, 2017
Stop Taking Blurry Pictures

It takes time to develop a great wedding portfolio that will get you hired by the best wedding photographers and eventually, the right kind of couples. Begin by studying gorgeous detail imagery from well-styled magazine shoots. Grab the latest Martha Stewart Weddings or Real Simple Weddings and really pay attention at how the product photographers shoot the cake, invitation set ups, and florals. These types of images are vital to your own brand and portfolio, especially to get jobs as second shooter, which requires a body of work filled with a lot of detail shots and alternative angles.

One great way to build your portfolio is by collaborating on test shoots with other vendors. Florists, invitation designers and bakeries are always in need of fresh images, especially if they are also just starting out in the industry. Partnering with them to shoot their products for trade is a really great way to practice shooting perfect detail images while creating beautifully styled content for your portfolio.

Stop Taking Blurry Pictures

Often a florist will be happy to collaborate with you and create a few bouquets or set up a mock tablescape in return for images. A cake designer will often be excited to have you shoot several dummy cakes and window displays to test you out as a collaborator. In addition, learning the ins and outs of setting up a scene will make you more confident when you’re shooting at a wedding and prepare you for capturing detail shots in high pressure situations.

Utilize vendor directories to find other wedding industry professionals and offer to do a TF shoot (Trade for Images). Many vendors will want to work with an eager photographer who is willing to put in the work to create a shoot. Look for up and coming stylists, coordinators, florists and cake designers on sites like Wedding Wire and Project Wedding, as well as directories on bridal blogs.

Stop Taking Blurry Pictures

Work with vendors to make sure things are scheduled or set up with the best light in mind, especially for styled elements. Tablescapes do not photograph well in harsh, mottled sunlight. If you can’t photograph it in the best light, get the angles that backlight the details as much as you can.

Make sure to get multiple angles on the tablescape — move around and get down to table level for some angles and then bird’s eye for others.

Click here to check out the second part of this series.

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