Honestly? If I would say I don't, I would be lying. I do test (work for no payment), but much less than I use too, I now only test to add something different to my portfolio or network with people that can create opportunities.
What is testing?
A test is a collaboration between a photographer and a model/ MUA or any other member of a creative team.
No one gets paid, but everyone gets images for their portfolio.
Why is good to test (for all the creatives)?
Firstly it's always good to have your portfolio updated, experiment with new looks/ techniques and be creative.
When I started out all I doing was testing. I wasn't confident enough to get paid and I wasn't able to pay someone either.
This made me want to improve my work and make sure that I am good enough for people to want to work with me. It was a hard process, but I was lucky to meet so many lovely models etc wanting to work with me.
Testing makes you more confident with what you're doing, it teaches you how to work with different individuals and it's an amazing way to mingle and get known.
Is it always beneficial to test?
In the past years of shooting I have learned that although is great to collaborate, sometimes you won't get the results you wanted. I have heard many models complaining about the images they received from their test shoots with other photographers, also it happened to me and other people I know not to be as happy with the results.
Don't let yourself down, but try to improve! When you're shooting it is about the connection you have with the other members and everyone's skills.
If you had a bad experience, learn from it and just think what was missing and what was bad.
Get used to say "No" or get a negative answer
I am getting so many people asking me to test everyday. For me this was the hardest bit, having to say no. It's flattering to get people wanting to work with you, but also you need to take in consideration the time, costs and what you will gain. Is it just another shoot? Will you benefit from it?
For each test shoot I spend around 8h shooting- answering messages, plus 2-3h ( at least) retouching each image. Will that be worth it? Consider your travel costs, Studio costs, refreshments etc.
Everyone is "spending" their time and money when they do it, so don't be afraid to say no if it won't be something you can use for your portfolio.
Also, don't feel bad if you're asking people to work with you and they refuse or don't reply.
Maybe you're not exactly what they need at the time or they focus on paid work on that period.
Where to find people to test?
At the beginning, I was shooting everyone: friends, family...even children, just to practice. When I realised that all I wanted to do is beauty I started to understand the importance of a proper model and team.
PurplePort/ Model Mayhem:
There are special websites where you can find people to work with, all you need to do is make yourself a profile and make a casting call.
Facebook Photography Groups or Instagram:
You can either make casting calls on Facebook or approach the people you want to work with yourself.
Approach a modelling agency:
It took me some time until modelling agencies approached me or they gave me models to test. But once you have one and they are happy to sent you models, it's great. You just need to be persistent and make sure the images you have are similar with the ones they need.
Hope you find this useful. Feel free to tell me your own experiences with testing.