Eight Ways to Get Yourself Fired on a Photography Set

A lot of us are going to work on set as an assistant at some point in our careers, and with that job comes a certain set of responsibilities and expectations for behavior. Here are eight things you definitely shouldn't do on set. 

The conducting teacher at my school always says: "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. If you're late, you're fired." I used to think it was a bit of an overly dramatic sentiment to encourage students to learn to be professional, but the older I get, the more I agree with him. If you walk in the door right when something is set to begin, you'll be behind every time. Coming to you from Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens, this video details how a lack of timeliness and seven other behaviors are one-way tickets to never being called again. Really, it comes down to knowing your role on the set and respecting the time, authority, and creative direction of those running it. I liken being an assistant to being a sports official: if at anytime in doing your job you make what's going on about you, you're doing it incorrectly. 

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Elan Govan's picture

I would never hire a family member......

Anonymous's picture

I'd love to see you explain to your wife why she can't work for you. ;-)

Elan Govan's picture

Don't have to mate, she is smart enough to find work and make friends outside my line of work. Very independent minded.

Anonymous's picture


Dan Howell's picture

Another one that you'd think would be obvious and not an issue, but DON'T peek into the models' dressing room. I certainly thought that was a no-brainer. Unfortunately I was not made aware of the situation until the end of the day or I would have taken more immediate measures to stop it, but needless to say that assistant was never on another of my sets.

That assistant was basically a nightmare. Even if the peeping hadn't occurred, I would have never allowed him back on set for two other infractions I would have thought would be obvious DON'Ts
--giving model directions from behind me (wrong for so many reasons).
--soliciting my client for work in front of me.

That monster was a local hire on a location shoot. I have generally had excellent luck working with assistants in NYC.

William Howell's picture

That made me laugh, I can imagine, with his cup of coffee in his hand, shaking his head in the negative, saying, no like this, this is how you pose!

Jeff Morris's picture

I've had a few clients I wish I could have fired on set. :)

"If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. If you're late, you're fired."

Hmm. So, what your conducting teacher was *really* saying was:

'Your time is worthless to me, only I count. So when you donate your time for me for free, that's acceptable. When you arrive on time for what I expect and pay you for, that's barely acceptable. When you take my time, rather than yours, you're fired'

Wage slave, indeed.

Alex Cooke's picture

No, what my conducting was saying was: "professionals arrive early, and it's not acceptable to be late when you're working with 100 other people who rely on you." And there aren't wages when you're a student.