How to Properly Set Up a C-Stand

For the seasoned photographer, assistant, or grip, knowing how to use a C-Stand may seem like common sense. However, if you have never used or seen one before, there are a few things you should know about these multi-functional stands. The C-stand or Century stand can be used to hold lighting, cameras, and all sorts of other equipment, all of which are probably very expensive. If you make a mistake setting up one of these stands, it can result in injury to you, your crew, or worst of all your equipment, which may not actually be yours. I can pretty much guarantee that if you break a Photographer's equipment, because you didn't set up a C-Stand correctly, he or she is probably going to be very upset with you. To avoid any common mistakes, check out this video from the guys over at Rocketjump Film School showing you how to properly set up a C-stand.

A few months ago, I wrote an article on getting paid to learn. The article basically goes over reasons why you should spend time as an assistant. I will be honest, the first time I worked on a large set I had know idea how to correctly use a C-stand. In the video, the guys show you how to properly set up a stand, tighten the knuckles so they won't come loose, weigh down the stand so it won't fall over, and store multiple stands so the photographer, director, or whoever is in charge won't call you out for being a sloppy assistant. Like I said, I know some of you may think it is common sense, but when you are working with another photographer, a production company, or a high end client, you want things to go smoothly. The last thing you want is someone to get injured because of a stupid mistake. Take a second and check out this basic video on how to use one of the most common tools on set. 

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My path to becoming a commercial photographer skipped the assistant route, and unfortunately there were/are so many things I never knew or learned.

On a big shoot, a grip saw me moving stuff incorrectly, pulled me aside, and proceeded to scold me for 5 minutes about safety. I was taken aback, but so thankful that a) he took his job so seriously and b) found it important enough to stop the photographer and risk his butt to do the right thing.

Long story short: these videos are are not only entertaining, but could literally save thousands of bucks from a broken light or worse, an injured person on the set.


Dana Goldstein's picture

Thank you, super important practical info!

Here's a similar video by Shane Hurlbut that has a little more information, particularly about avoiding the pinch.

Justin Myers's picture

While I like the video, I feel some FS writers are getting a bit lazy in original writing.

Instead of talking about what they are working on, or sharing experiences, they post copy/paste videos from youtube.

Ryan Cooper's picture

In 2015 we have published about 700 "FStoppers Originals" which represent completely original writing.

Yes, there are plenty of repost type articles in addition to that which I think many people find incredibly useful but I'd say there has been plenty of original content on an ongoing basis. ;)

C Gentile's picture

it's good to see instruction in one of the very important and useful tools to a photographer. I would add that putting a tennis ball on the end of any points that are hazards or alternative, green painters tape to mark the hazard is a good add on when the stand is being used. All so when taking a flag out or any other item from the grip head, the arm should be dropped back down. Its very easy for a client or talent of all ages even with set experience get speared with a grip arm. Most commercial shoots are pretty dark on set and full of trip/eye hazards