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“Setiquette”: How To Carry Yourself on Set as a Creative

Working on a set for editorials, commercials, or lifestyle shoots can be a rewarding yet daunting experience if you’ve never worked on a set before. All of the moving parts between the creative director, the photographer and their assistant(s), however many models have been booked for that job, the hair and makeup team, the styling team, the lighting crew, and anyone else that’s needed on a set can be extremely overwhelming. Whether you’ve booked your first editorial or you’ve been invited to assist on a set and have no idea how to prepare for it, we’ve created a self-help guide for the ins and outs of working on a set in the creative industry.

Firstly, one of the biggest pieces of advice we can give you is to arrive on time or early. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “time is money” and when working on a set, that statement rings true. Efficiency is key to a production staying on schedule and running smoothly; the longer the shoot is, the more money it costs, and if a mistake is made that tacks on more time, then more money has to be spent. Accidents happen, but if any disruptions to the efficiency of a production can be avoided, then the whole shoot runs more smoothly.

Another important trait to have on set is humility, whether you’re assisting on a small-scale production or for a big publication like Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar, being confident in your abilities and maintaining humility and respect is a good way to carry yourself. These characteristics go hand in hand with being friendly to everyone. It takes a village to bring a creative vision to life and having bad blood or negativity on set can cause personal and professional disruptions to a production. Additionally, try to avoid being the cause of any negativity because people observe and take note of how others act on a set, and you never know who’s watching and who has a certain networking connection. If you’re positive and genuine when socializing and working on set, you won’t have to worry about tarnishing your reputation or missing out on a connection that could benefit your career.

Moreover, being observant and absorbing your surroundings is crucial to turning your first time on set into a learning experience. As previously mentioned, all of the moving parts of a production can be immensely overwhelming, but if you take a step back and take in the atmosphere, you’re bound to learn something. Speaking from personal experience, my first time assisting on set for a magazine, I learned so many new words and terminology for the equipment that’s used. For example, I was asked to go and grab v-flats, which are made up of two foam boards that are used to reflect or cut the light out of a shot, and that sounded like a foreign word to me, so I politely yet quickly asked what a v-flat was. In most cases, if you kindly ask for clarification on what something is (but do it quickly because remember, time is money!), then someone on the set will be able to help you out.

Furthermore, another component of being observant of your surroundings is making sure you’re helping out but not getting in the way. Whether you’re working on a set for an editorial or a maternity shoot, lighting is everything and if you’re standing in the wrong spot, then your shadow could obstruct the image. Be wary of cables and cords on the floor because they are most likely connected to the camera, lights, or other necessary equipment. In addition, sometimes you’ll catch things like a stray hair on the model or smudged makeup that other people on set may not notice since everyone is busy with their own tasks. To make sure something like that is fixed, politely point it out to one of the hair and makeup artists, the styling team, or one of the photographer’s assistants, depending on the situation. Going to one of these individuals will help to keep the production running smoothly since the photographer or creative director will most likely be busy directing the model when you catch these small details.

Even though there’s a stigma around productions and whose job is more important, everyone’s participation and cooperation are essential to getting the final image that will be published or framed. When there’s good momentum and excitement on set, bringing a vision to life and executing it is such an amazing feeling. Learning and tapping into your creative potential on set is the true payment and reward of working in this industry.

Clothes rack with some of our in-house wardrobe


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