How to become a Cinematographer – a full guide

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Nowadays, the job of Cinematographer is very significant in film creation. A Cinematographer works with the director and is often known as the director of photography, in short DoP. A career in Cinematography is one of the most important and coveted jobs in film making.

Cinematographers are the people who are responsible for the camera and light crews to make sure that the camera is capturing the action the way that the director is planning it to.

Why is Cinematography important to Filmmaking?

Cinematography represents the visual aspect of a film or television show. Cinematography is about reading the story from the script and turning them into viewable images.

By making decisions about the camera and lens choice, angle width, aspect ratio, or other visual elements, cinematography leads the audience to understand events that convey a variety of information like emotions, psychological relationships, etc.about a scene.


What does a Cinematographer do?

A Cinematographer has various responsibilities depending upon different stages of filmmaking.

The pre-production responsibilities of a Cinematographer are:

  • The primary responsibility of a Cinematographer during pre-production is to look upon the key elements like the look, feel, and visual storytelling techniques of the film along with the director and other heads of different departments.
  • A Cinematographer along with the location manager search for locations to shoot the film. Here the role of the Cinematographer is to assess the location for its natural light, its space and the set up of tools and equipment to shoot the movie.
  • The next job of a Cinematographer is to decide about the camera and lens choice. A Cinematographer makes a list of all the camera equipment required for the filmmaking to rent or purchase.
  • Now after everything is decided and set up the final job of the Cinematographer in post-production is to assemble a team who can work efficiently in filmmaking. The team includes camera crews and lighting crews who work as per the direction of the Cinematographer.

The production and post-production responsibilities of a Cinematographer are:

  • Once the filmmaking is in its production and post-production stage the responsibility of the Cinematographer is to determine how to shoot a scene. This includes deciding the ideal depth of field for the shot and discussing with the director which shots should be close-ups, medium shots, or wide shots.
  • The Cinematographer along with the director review the raw unedited footage of the shot and compare it to whether it is as per the original vision of the motion picture.
  • The post-production responsibilities of a Cinematographer is to apply their cinematography skills to the process of colour grading. Colour grading is used to enhance the look and colour of the film or television series.

Tips To Become A Successful

  •  Pursue Higher Education –To become a successful Cinematographer and to enhance your cinematography skills and techniques, you must pursue your higher education in a film school. In a film school, you will get exposure to the technical side of a cinematography career, drench yourself in film studies and opportunity to build a network with future Cinematographers.
  • A film school will provide you with an overview in all aspects of filmmaking, including lighting techniques, film & video production, and directing.
  • Spent most of your time in film sets – Spending time in Film sets will provide you with invaluable experience to observe and learn the best cinematography practices. Even if you don’t get an immediate job as a Cinematographer, you can apply for other jobs in film sets which can help you develop skills by observing the work of a Cinematographer. Working on the film sets will help you achieve the right visual outcome with the lighting and camera equipment as well as the overall practice of filmmaking.
  • Upgrade your technical skills –A successful Cinematographer always tries to hone their skills and learn new techniques. The easiest way is by listening to podcasts or reading articles on cinematography. You can practice shooting at different times of day by using your phone’s camera to experiment with the look of different lighting on your video or image. Cinematographers must be excellent in how to manipulate light, colour and shadow of a video or image along with a closely familiar with the equipment.

Is Cinematography The Right Career

In the era of OTT platforms where you can see a release of new series or film every other day and hence the requirement for Cinematographers are in high demand to make short movies, documentaries, web series and TV serials. If you have a mix of innovative perspectives and have a visionary disposition to learn and imagine things extraordinarily then Cinematography is the right career choice for you.

To make a career in Cinematography you can initially join as an assistant dimension cinematographer. When you accomplish a decent amount of experience and make enough networks in the film industry then you can look for senior-level of cinematography. There is a bucket full of opportunities for cinematographers in the coming times as the film and television industry is growing rapidly.

                                                                                                              By – Koustav Banik

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