Call me, maybe.

Quick reminder: make it easy for people to contact you.

Something I see with many of my clients is that they don’t post their contact info on their websites or social media pages. I mean, do you even want a job? ;)

In the past, many of us (guilty!) have avoided putting our email addresses on our websites for fear of getting spammed. Contact me: amy (at) amyvcooper (dot) com. #tbt

Hopefully our evolved email spam blockers are now managing those fears.

Having a form on your contact page is fine, but why not make it a lot easier by posting and hyperlinking your email address and phone number? People are busy, make it easy! 

Your whole website should be easy to view, understand, and navigate. Bonus points for having your contact info right there on your home page.

Another thing I have noticed, photographers and other artists not wanting to put their location on their websites or social media. We know you ”will travel,” but not knowing where you are based can be super annoying to photo editors and art producers, and actually cost you a job. This is especially important for photographers and stylists, maybe less so for illustrators and graphic designers that tend to work remote.

So, if you are a photographer in Bend, Oregon, or a stylist in Lafayette, Louisiana, say it loud and proud… and also in your Instagram bio because, someone is looking for you.

One last thing, all of this contact information should also be in your email signature. Website, phone number, @Instagram handle. Easy.

Hey #ImRootingForYou!


Want some help hyperlinking your email address? Thinking you’re overdue for a portfolio review? Need a thought partner in developing a marketing strategy to
target your dream clients? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

Never miss a blog or event, sign up for my newsletter here.

Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.  

Test Shoots: Best Practices

Updating your portfolio on a regular basis is important. If you are not stacked with paid work, or perhaps you want to try out a new style, test shoots are great for freshening up your website and providing new content to share in your marketing stream. 

Test shoots have also been called “TFP” or trade for print in the past. Before digital, photographers would trade their services (and provide physical prints from shoots) to collaborators who worked with them for free; models, stylists, makeup artists, etc., who also need new images in their own portfolios. Win-win.

Anyone who has ever worked on a test shoot knows that setting expectations is incredibly important, especially since generally no one is getting paid, but everyone is providing a valuable service.

1.  Who is the producer? Generally the photographer will initiate the test shoot idea, but sometimes a stylist or modeling agency will ask a photographer to do a test shoot for/with them. Whomever is initiating the shoot, should also assume the role of producer. The producer should set and communicate expectations between collaborators, manage the schedule, cover costs or negotiate cost sharing, secure location, models, other collaborators, snacks, etc. The producer should also create a contingency plan and communicate final deliverables.

2.  Communicating deliverables. The photographer (and/or producer) should clearly define how many final retouched images will be provided and when exactly they will be delivered. All collaborators should have a say in how many and what types of shots they are interested in receiving. A makeup artist may need close-up shots while a model may want a range of mid to full length shots. A stylist might have specific needs for showing wardrobe and accessories. Defining these expectations in advance will help determine a shot list as well as help the photographer determine how much time they will need to shoot and post-process. Assessing everyone’s needs will also help the producer schedule the day to make sure all shots are achievable. 

The photographer should clearly define the usage rights granted to the collaborators, and if talent releases will be presented. They should also communicate any preferences regarding how the images should be credited, and if filters and cropping of the images are allowed when sharing. The photographer should also clearly define in advance if collaborators will be able to select images, how many, and when. If collaborators need or want more images than the photographer is willing to provide for free, a price and timeline per additional image should be offered in advance of the shoot. Retouching can be very time-consuming. 

Always remember that the copyright of the image stays with the photographer. Collaborators should be very careful in tagging third parties or allowing others to repost images without the photographer’s permission (especially businesses/brands.) The photographer should also practice the same caution when considering allowing a brand to repost without permission from collaborators (especially models and their agents!)

3.  Your stylists and models are not “the help.” All collaborators should be equally respected for their time and talents. Testing is not cheap for photographers, nor is it cheap for stylists who have to spend time gathering wardrobe, purchasing props, makeup, cleaning and prepping tools, etc. Inviting all collaborators to weigh in on creative ideas, inspiration boards, schedule, shot list, deliverables etc. goes a long way in showing respect and creating a positive, fun and supportive environment for a shoot.

4.  Treat a test shoot like it’s the real deal. Everyone is donating their valuable time and talent and should get rewarded with the best possible images for their portfolios. Testing is also a way of ‘interviewing’ collaborators for future paid work, so show up on time, dressed professionally, with a can-do attitude that would impress even the highest paying clients. Your team will remember how you showed up.

5.  Canceling on a test shoot sucks for everyone involved. All collaborators have cleared their schedules, sometimes sacrificing paid work, and if one person cancels, it can ruin the whole shoot and taint potential future collaborations. Of course, things happen, paid work comes up, but if you must cancel, do your best to let everyone know far in advance. Offer a replacement for yourself or a new date to shoot.

6.  Give everyone proper credit. When posting images from test shoots, credit everyone involved, every time. Photographer, model, model’s agency, stylists, location, etc., especially if you want the favor to be returned. It can never hurt to tag more people on social media, it means getting more eyes on your post, and potential future work. Ask people how they want to be credited, what their social media handles are, etc. Send that information with the final images, or even better, embed those credits in the image file info.

I often hear stories from makeup artists and stylists that never received their ‘prints’ from test shoots. I hope that all collaborators will know their worth and not value themselves any less than the photographer. It’s fair, and even critical that stylists, models, etc. set their own boundaries and expectations for test shoots. I even encourage stylists to come up with their own contracts for photographers to sign before agreeing to a shoot if they are working with someone new. Communication is everything. Don’t leave room for assumptions or interpretation or you will ultimately be let down… and if you are working with someone new, ask around to make sure they are good to work with or ask for references.

What have your test shoot experiences been? What would you add to this list? Weigh in on my Instagram post, I want to know!

Happy Shooting and #ImRootingForYou!


Want some help brainstorming a killer test shoot to expand your portfolio? Need a thought partner in developing a marketing strategy to target your dream clients? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

Never miss a blog or event, sign up for my newsletter here.

Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.  

Does anyone look at source books anymore?

I get this question all the time, is it worth the money to be in a photography or illustration source book? 

I’ve seen source books go the way of phone books, sad stacks of dead trees unopened from their packaging filling the recycling bins of ad agencies across the country. How many creative directors have the time to thumb through 500 pages of mostly randomly-placed single image ads to find that perfect artist for their next campaign? The answer is, less than 20% of them at best (based on my very non-scientific polling of art buyer and creative director friends.)

Of the creatives who still touch actual paper, most of them referred to AtEdge, and only a few more of them said that they look at online directories, mentioning AtEdge, Found, Wonderful Machine and Workbook

A much higher majority of them said that they occasionally use Instagram to search for photographers and illustrators. So I posed the question,

“What are your tips for artists using social media as a marketing tool?”

-Make it known that you are a professional photographer in your profile or bio. You can be cute or enigmatic in your IG bio, but if you want to get found, get literal. “Nashville Product & Still Life Photographer” is more likely to land a job than “Light Chaser, Mother of Cats.” Just sayin’.

-Take advantage of hashtags and location tagging to help target clients in a specific city. It’s more advantageous to tag the city where you shot something than a more specific location, i.e. 📍New Orleans, LA vs. 📍Old New Orleans Rum Distillery.

-Stay active, only post top quality images, let the work speak for itself.

This is not to say you should only rely on Instagram as your sole marketing strategy, absolutely not. I think directories can be valuable, especially for artists who do not live in major markets and those who are more niche. Also, purchasing a print directory ad usually affords you priority listing on the website or in the email blasts of the same source, and some directories also offer portfolio review opportunities. 

And never forget, working on your networking skills, mailing lists, and SEO should always be prioritized over time spent on social media.

Not sure where to focus your marketing? Shoot me an email or jump on my calendar for a free call, I’ll try and help you make a more informed decision before spending money on your next ad.



Want some help brainstorming a killer promo or developing a marketing strategy to target your dream clients? Shoot me an email or click here to schedule a free 15-minute call. Let’s chat and find out if we’re a good fit.

Never miss a blog or event, sign up for my newsletter here.

Get inspired, keep up with my pro-tips, and meet some of my favorite clients and artists: follow me on Instagram @amyvcooper.  

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