Cinematographers and Directors of Photography

The cinematographer, also known as the director of photography or DP, is a master of the movie camera and lighting equipment. This professional is instrumental in establishing the mood of a film by putting the narrative aspects of a script into visual form. The cinematographer is responsible for every shot's framing, lighting, color level, and exposure—elements that set the artistic tone of the film.

Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) DPs
Duties Research and design all aspects of a script from storyboards to locations to rehearsals in collaboration with the director; plan a budget; hire crews; determine best way to compose and light shots; review filmed scenes with director, producer, and crew; adjust elements in post-production (sounds, special effects, etc.); review final cut of film
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Indoors/Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago; opportunities exist in all regions, but primarily in urban centers
Minimum Education Level
  • Bachelor's Degree
School Subjects
  • Art
  • English
  • Journalism
Experience Several years' experience
Personality Traits
  • Artistic
  • Hands On
  • Technical
  • Digital Media
  • Drawing/Design
  • Leadership
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements Good eyesight; enough strength to carry equipment
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Cinematographer
  • Assistant Director of Photography
  • Camera Operator
  • Assistant Camera Operator

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