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.

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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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  • 25
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