No Flash Photography

This is actually an incredibly subtle joke, and I just wanted to point it out to anyone who might miss it. In the alt text.

As a general rule, don’t take pictures on set. Even if you’re not on Lost, the creators and studio execs, in agreement for once, probably don’t want you spoiling events/locations/casting new on your show.

Still, the self-imposed surveillance state we all live in now means that everyone has a camera attached to their cell phone. Or a texting machine attached to their camera, with occasional voice capabilities that don’t function all that well.1 Normal, everyday people take pictures at their work all the time, why shouldn’t you be allowed to?

For a very good reason that doesn’t involve arbitrary network rules or above-the-line vanity: your camera flash freaks out the electricians.

No, they’re not unfrozen cavemen, frightened by the bright lights and loud noises of our modern world.

Most grips don't look like this. Most.
This is an executive, not a grip.

No, the reason is, set lights flash brightly just before going out. Unless you’re looking directly at the camera when the flash goes off, the two flashes are indistinguishable.

If you absolutely have to take a picture (as the costume and make up departments do, for continuity photos), you should call out “flashing” before you take the picture. This lets the electricians know what’s going on. If you’re in a situation where you can’t shout, well… you probably shouldn’t be taking the picture at all. Just saying.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. Let’s be honest, it’s just a conveyance for Twitter and Instagram.
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4 Responses

  1. Or maybe the ADs were lying to me. But warning the crowd about this is a great way to try and control a crowd.

  2. Oooh, good point. But to add to that, it’s not just a light going out that scares people…

    Let’s say we’re rolling on a night exterior and the neighborhood came to watch. They’re quiet and respectful, and for the most part it’s fine. Until one of them breaks out their camera and takes a picture with flash. Oh man, they just ruined the shot. For that split second, the whole scene just got brighter and now we have to do another take.

  3. Indeed, using a flash without preceding that click of the camera by saying (in a loud voice) “flashing!” is a serious breach of on-set etiquette. Sometimes our lamp bulbs flash just before blowing and sometimes they don’t, but when we see any kind of flash out of the corner of our eyes, we instantly assume the worst. We then drop whatever we’re doing to look up and check all the lamps and cable connections to see if a lamp has blown or there’s electrical trouble (arcing causes flashes too) in the cables. That slows things down on set and raises our blood pressure considerably.

    But if the picture-taker says “flash” in a loud voice, well hear that and will continue working without freaking out. This is basic stuff — and for all you newbies trying to get started in this business, using a flash camera without a loud verbal warning is a sure sign that you’re greener than the fresh spring grass.

    And you don’t want that…

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