Cinematographers, the camera operators who film motion pictures, compose shots that accurately capture scenes according to a director's vision. In larger films, the cinematographer is also called the director of photography, or DP.

The Work

A cinematographer works with the director on set or location during filming. He or she makes decisions that affect the look and feel of a movie. Cinematographers choose the film stock, lenses, filters, lighting, aspect ratio, depth of field, and camera mount (stationary, steadicam, cranes, or rolling) to achieve the shot that helps tell the story. Cinematographers also give input on other aspects of filming and editing to improve scenes.

In larger productions, cinematographers manage the camera, grip, and lighting crews.

Location shoots can be uncomfortable or, depending on the location, even dangerous. But most cinematographers and camera operators do not suffer unduly harsh conditions. Many, however, must work long and irregular hours to meet production schedules. And if the filming is done outside, there can be long waits in inclement weather.

Education & Training

A bachelor's degree -- often in film or cinematography -- is necessary for most cinematography positions.

Coursework should cover videography, digital imagery, computer technology, camera equipment and techniques, and some business areas. General film training will also cover the artistic aspects of filmmaking, which is helpful to cinematographers in working with directors.

Along with a degree and experience, sucessful cinematographers and other camera operators need good eyesight, artistic ability, hand-eye coordination, good communication skills, patience, and accuracy.

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