Using Apple’s Airpods on Set

Using Apple’s Airpods on Set

You might think it’s rude, but there’s a time and a place that having a pair of buds in your ear can help you get the shot.

Recently I helped cover Fashion Week for a major cosmetics brand. It entails going to some of the biggest fashion shows in the world, over various cities, and nailing the shot every time. There’s a really wonderful team backstage, and it sort of feels like a work-family. You’ll always see the same photographers and videographers from show to show. At times though, that can be a distraction that will cost you a shot.

One day last year I saw a photographer with Apple’s Airpods in his ears. I thought it was a little rude – that he would be asking models to pose, without really being able to hear them. However, I brought my own pair the following season and I’ve been converted. In my eyes, there’s a time and a place.

Willfully Ignorant

I still don’t agree that you ask a model to pose while listening to your favorite podcast. I think it’s a bit rude and assumes that they want to pose. However, when I have my shots with the models, I don’t need to talk to anybody. Sometimes I want to run around between backstage and front of house without anybody talking to me. Sometimes, it’s the difference between getting the shot and not.

Over the course of a week, I realized that the other photographer was onto something. I would usually be the only person listening to music backstage, but it meant that nobody would bother me. Even when I just had them in my ears without music, nobody sought to talk to me. Security wouldn’t stop me between front of house and backstage; press photographers wouldn’t ask me to move in the pit (so long as I was rightfully in place), and there was no urge to start a conversation.

This meant that I could get my long and atmospheric shots without a hitch. I was in the zone, and everybody ignored me.

As everybody packs in for the show, nobody will bother me while I get my shots.


The other obvious benefit is entertainment. Occasionally during a rehearsal, I’ll see an angle that I really want to get during the show. In order to ensure that I’m able to get it, I’ll make sure to get there good and early while my colleagues continue to shoot backstage. I can get through a couple songs while I wait. When the show’s music starts playing, two taps on the Airpods stops my music and I can start shooting.

It also doesn’t hurt to get pumped up. I’m shooting 4K 60p video, that will fill a dramatic and powerful edit. It’s only apt that I’m in the same creative mood between shooting and in post. So I wasn’t listening to any chill acoustic playlists.

Sure, you could use any set of earbuds or headphones, but the Airpods are both ubiquitous and tangle free. Having a smartwatch handy means I can change the music without taking my phone out too, which isn’t necessary but certainly handy. I’m looking forward to using them at other events, where it helps to be ignored. Would you employ similar tactics when shooting?

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Johnny Rico's picture

Seems like a liability to me.

Dan Crowther's picture

Very interesting comment about the security. Need access to someplace? Act like you belong there and wear earbuds!

Adam Lee's picture

No one wants to talk to/get near a person wearing limp cigarettes in their ears. :P

Studio 403's picture

Humm, I have a pair of airpods. Damn things keep falling out of my ears. How would it look to have red tape holding them in.....oh no, another air-head with red ears,