I have been able to be a part of the beauty industry for five years now, photographing different hair and makeup artists portfolios and it wasn’t until I told my baby sitter that “my call time was at 10 a.m.” that I realized that not everyone understood my current lingo. So let me give you five terms that you need to know when working a big production whether that be with HMUA (Hair and Make Up Artists), stylists or video team.

  • Call time — this is the time that you need to be at work. This is the time when everyone else is going to be ready too. This is actually the time they want to take the first photo so you actually better be there 20 minutes before your call time so you can get everything set up and tested.
  • Key or lead — Whenever someone asks where the key or lead is, they are wanting to talk to the one in charge of makeup, hair or both. Key makeup and key hair are normally separate people, but not always. If you have a team of makeup and hair people there should normally be a “key” in charge. It is your job to know who that person is and to make a connection with them before shooting.
  • Stepping in — What people say when you are stepping on to the set in front of cameras. I didn’t understand why people actually would say this until I was on set. As a photographer, I sometimes get so caught up in shooting that I forget other people are around me. I start moving lights and cords that if someone doesn’t announce that they are coming into my little zone it startles me. So I have come to love and appreciate the courtesy of someone saying, “hey I am stepping in to fix this” as it makes my job way easier.
  • Hard out — This means that the talent and/or crew needs to be packed up, cleaned up, and ready to leave at a specific time and not a minute later. This could be the time that everyone wants to be done or the time that the location is closing. Either way, people get really upset when you go over this time. I like to set an alarm for 30 minutes before hard out and then one every 10 minutes after just so I am personally aware of the time because no one else is going to tell me. Trust me, I learned that the hard way.
  • Money shot — I feel like this term is used in photography quite a bit, but when used on set it has a whole other meaning. When someone asks to see “the money shot”, they are asking to see the shot that will bring in the money FOR YOUR CLIENT; the cover shot, the best shot. The one that they are going to pick. They don’t want to see your favorite or the models favorite they want to see their favorite and they don’t want to see 10, 30, 50 images. They only want to see one, they want to see the money shot.


I completely understand that the beauty and fashion world can be a bit intimidating for people and then hearing their language/slang can make it even worse, but trust me when I say they are some of the most welcoming creative people I’ve ever met! So don’t be shy to enter into their world and when you do I hope you find these terms helpful in the process.