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Test Photoshoots - Try it you might like it.

One of the traps of being a professional photographer in New York City is that you only get to do what other people want you to do. That’s sort of the deal that you create what they want in exchange for money and that doesn’t necessarily mean that your creating the work that you want to make. One of the leaps that you have to make when you go from being a hobbyist photographer to a professional is to produce work for other people rather than just for yourself. And then the next step is to learn the business of photography and learn how to turn that skill into something that you can charge money for. For many people this leap can be creatively stifling and soul sucking. You’re making money and your achieving your dreams to become a professional food photographer but often the work that you’re creating no longer fulfills you spiritually. The advertising industry can be both a wonderful and fantastic place where the sky is the limit and at other times a crushing hellscape of repetition and boredom. Because this also has the tendency to make artists keep creating the same work over and over again because that’s the work that sells as opposed to the best work that they possibly could make.
a video of a dancer moving
As a professional food photographer or really any kind of photographer or artist it’s extremely important that you keep exploring and keep trying new things. Sometimes as a food photographer this means photographing things that aren’t food. Photographer’s usually refer to this as “testing.” Test shoots are non-paid jobs that you explore on your own or with a other creative professionals. This can be a great way to build your portfolio or try out funky new weird technics or ways to look at the world in an environment where you’re free to fail and try something else. When your a photographer and your on the job you often only have a very small window of time to impress your clients and the people that your working with. This can stifle creativity and causes a lot of very talented photographers to just create ‘safe’ work. It might not be their best work but they know that the client will like it. Test shoots are a free time. A time to try using that weird funky gel, create that dark moody lighting aesthetic with shallow depth of field. And if it doesn’t work out you’re only out the time it spent to create the work and not a hard earned client.
a dancer posing for a photograph
Finding other people to test with can be hard at times. Everybody is extraordinarily busy, overworked, overstressed, worried about money, worried about their relationships with others and finding others who are in the same creative head space as you at the same time that you are can be difficult. But rewarding. Never be afraid to ask to ask another creative professional if they’re free to test and never be offended when they say no.

By doing so you can learn more about yourself, more about photography and more about the world around you. Go out into the world and be awesome and do awesome things and awesome things will happen to you.

These are photographs that I took of my friend Shieri Yamafuji who is an amazing dancer and yoga teacher.
a belly dancer frozen in motion
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You own your Work You own your Work. Copyrights.

This is an ongoing project with more coming soon.

Have a question? Feel free to ask and I would be happy to help.
a portrait of Will Engelmann
Will is a Professional Food Photographer in New York who has taken a prolific number of photographs. If he takes one more photograph of food his eyeballs might fall out.

Check out his Food Photography Website
Thirsty? Cocktail Photography Website