4 Things You Should Know Before Saying Yes to Testing With a Photographer

Jul 29, 2022
Things To Know Before Work With Photographer

 Does this sound familiar?


“The photographer I recently did a test shoot with is now requesting payment for 11X14 prints. Furthermore, she states that she never gives 11X14 files or print releases for test shoots.  She now states that she will only provide web size images––a complete flip from our conversation the day of the shoot.  This is on me because although this was an impromptu situation, I should have sent written correspondence to her prior to shooting. Lesson: never let the excitement of the moment and the opportunity overshadow the business.”

                                                ––Freelance hair stylist, Philadelphia, PA


If you’re a glam squad artist who is out there looking for photographers to build your book with, take this artists lesson to heart, you cannot negotiate anything with a photographer after a shoot. If you don’t get what you need in writing to safeguard the collection of images that feature your [makeup, hair or styling] contribution, you can end up empty handed with nothing for your portfolio or social media. The photographer on the other hand goes on to use the images to market themselves to other clients and unsuspecting glam squad artists.

Stop the madness. Here’s what you need to know in order to build collaborative relationships with the photographers you are considering working with.

1. Position yourself as a collaborator. Begin amassing ideas of your own by collecting and expanding upon pages you’ve torn from magazines, earmarked on digital magazines online or saved on Pinterest.

Share your passion about periods of history that you love and stories you’ve seen that you would like to put your own spin on and re-enact with your new collaborative partner––the photographer. 

When you come to the creative table with ideas of your own, the other players have much more respect for you as an artist. Showing up with only your brushes or wardrobe rack makes you a worker bee, not a collaborator.

2. Stand up for yourself. Once you’ve nailed down the details of the shoot, open a discussion about:

  • How and when you will receive your images.
  • Choose your own images.
  • The finished size of the images that you require.
  • The importance of receiving images without watermarks, logos or signatures.


3. Confirm everything in writing. Send over an email confirming the terms and conditions under which you are going to collaborate on the upcoming shoot and include everything in #2 above so that there is no ambiguity about your expectations.

4. Proceed with caution. Do not proceed with the shoot unless you have received a reply on your email. That reply, unless disputed in some way is an agreement to your terms and conditions and enforceable in a court of law.

Right now, you may be saying, “That Crystal Wright is crazy, the photographer is not going to go for any of this.” But the right ones will. If you enter into a negotiation believing that you’re at a disadvantage because your contribution as a makeup, hair, fashion stylist or manicurist is not worthy of receiving the images you need, the way you need them, then you are exactly right.

The truth is, a photographer who respects you as a collaborator understands that you need work to open [commercial] doors as much as they do. The right photographer wouldn’t think of tying your hands by adding unsightly logos and watermarks. Furthermore, they will want you to choose the images that best suit your needs, and they will provide those images to you in a timely manner, and at a resolution that allows you to showcase them online and in print in their best light.

Conversely, photographers who make their money by charging glam squad artists and models for images are typically only amassing images for the purpose of getting more work from glam squad artists and models. That is their business model. No pun intended.

If a photographer has not set their sights on working with magazines, on ad campaigns, catalogs or with celebrities, they will [in most cases] be completely unaware of how the commercial side of the industry works outside of model testing.

When it comes to testing, the photographer is your partner and collaborator. Whether you’ve been invited to participate, or you’ve created an opportunity that the photographer is excited about being a part of, the photographer needs you as much as you need them.

If you stay silent or acquiesce in the face of these kinds of challenges, you are screaming, “I have no rights. I don’t matter,” and alas you are rewarding bad behavior.

The industry needs strong, professional, creative artist collaborators. I challenge you to make your voice heard and take your place among the greats.  


If working in print, video, film and television is something that you just might want to get serious about, visit CrystalWrightLive.com, where you can take advantage of educational opportunities that will help you get to the next level in your career.


You can also grab a copy of Crystal Wright’s book,
The Hair Makeup & fashion Styling Career Guide.


Stay connected to Crystal Wright for strategy and tips to help you build your freelance business.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.