Career In Cinematography – Film School Or No Film School, Salary And Job

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In this digital world we are living in, Cinematography has made a huge progress in the world of content creator’s, filmmaker’s and especially in Film Production Industry and many more. A Cinematographer also known as Director Of Photography are getting recognized worldwide for their brilliant work.

Back in the days, when people used to watch movies or television show not many used to think how they have shot a particular scene or the whole movie and tv show itself. Nowadays everybody voice their question on how to make movies or in this case how to become a Cinematographer or Director Of Photography.


As I mentioned above, not many people used to know who is the man behind the camera. As we progressed, everybody now knows that there is more than just actors and directors who make the movies. There is a full production unit and a huge team behind the success of a movie.

Well Known DOP Roger Deakins

Now, great cinematographers like Roger Deakins are getting recognized by the world for their brilliant work. Each and every day the competition standard is stepping up in simple words the competition is getting harder and harder everyday.

So, the main objective of this article is for you to understand whether or not Cinematography is a good career choice and if the answer is yes then Where to start? or How to become a Cinematographer or Director Of Photography? and What is the salary? to be expected and also Is there a career scope in Cinematography? Now let’s begin.


What Is Cinematography?

Before you decide it is important to know What actually is Cinematography? The basic definition of this question is “Cinematography is the art of motion-picture photography and filming either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock.”

In simple words, Cinematography basically means using any method for capturing a scene it could also be your mobile phone camera or it could be your high end professional camera. It doesn’t matter what equipment you use.

Free Images By Pixabay

Cinematography comprises all on-screen visual elements, including lighting, framing, composition, camera motion, camera angles, film selection, lens choices, depth of field, zoom, focus, color, exposure, and filtration. Cinematography finds uses in many fields of Science and business as well as for entertainment purposes and mass media.


Who is Cinematographer Or Director Of Photography (DOP)

Cinematographer or Director Of Photography (DOP) is an individual who uses the knowledge of Cinematography and apply it in their job to give output. Which basically means that the person who has knowledge in Cinematography and can apply it can become a Cinematographer or Director Of Photography.

Job And Responsibilities Of A Cinematographer Or Director Of Photography (DOP):

A Cinematographer or Director Of Photography (DOP) is an individual incharge of the camera crew and also the one who decides which camera and lens to use for a particular scene. A good cinematographer will introduce ideas and concepts the director may not have considered.

When filming scenes for movies, television, or instructional or educational videos, a cinematographer fills a key role. He or she acts as the eyes of the director, typically working with that person to figure out what the vision of the film should be. The cinematographer then brings this vision into being by choosing the different ways and techniques the filmed or video project will be shot.

Cinematographers will typically have to process a great deal of information. Depending on the type of project they’re shooting, they will typically have to be completely familiar with the script, and will work extensively with the director on any themes or tones. Many directors will specifically set certain parts of scenes to be filmed, and the cinematographer’s job is to essentially film what he or she sees.


They are also responsible for choosing the lighting setup for a scene. Although, there is a different crew for lighting it’s their responsibility to decide where to put which light and when not to use a particular light. A cinematographer uses lighting to create the right visual mood the director aspires to achieve. They must know how to enhance an image’s depth, contrast, and contour to support the story’s atmosphere.

A cinematographer determines the visual style and approach of the film. For example, a cinematographer on a documentary film determines whether to use re-enactments, or to rely heavily on photographs and found footage.

A cinematographer decides which types of cameras, camera lenses, camera angles, and camera techniques best bring the scene to life. Additionally, a cinematographer works with the script supervisor and, if necessary, the locations manager to scope out each scene and design what the most effective vantage points for the camera will be. This helps preserve the intention and scale of the film.


Career Scope Of Cinematography

As I have mentioned at the start of this article that we are living in this new era of the digital world. This just means that the demand for Cinematography is increasing daily and not just that it has a wide scope of flexibility. What I mean by that is, Cinematography is just not used in filmmaking but also in many other sectors.

Cinematography is basically used almost everywhere for example: Advertisement for a business, Real Estate, Science, mass media and many more. By learning Cinematography you can work at many different types of industries and not just Film Production Industry. Which results in high demand for Cinematographers.

So, the answer is very simple that there is scope in choosing cinematography as your career. Now it’s up to you to decide what line of work you want to use you cinematography skills in whether to work at live news channel or work with an advertising agency or any other many options available to you. The bottom line is there is career scope in cinematography.


How To Become A Cinematographer Or Director Of Photography (DOP)?

There are many ways for you becomming a Cinematographer or Director Of Photography (DOP) stay tuned for my next article for detailed information on How To Become A Cinematographer Or Director Of Photography (DOP)? and How To Land Your First Job? Until then here is a short version of it.

While there are many ways to become a Cinematographer or Director Of Photography (DOP) the most simple one would be is joining a course of cinematography or taking admission in a Film School and choosing Cinematography as your major.


Persons interested in this career typically seek a degree in cinematography or related discipline from an accredited university. A cinematographer may then put his or her skills to work immediately on small-scale projects.

However, to work in television or movies, it is normally necessary for a person to acquire practical experience. This is done by working with second units as a camera operator or a similar position that works directly under a cinematographer on a set. This is a job that typically requires both work in a studio and on location, and it may have irregular hours, depending on individual contracts.

Film School Or No Film School?

While, there are many who ask this particular question: Film School Or No Film School? Here’s a simple answer for that, it doesn’t matter how you do it what matters is how good your skills are.

One more important thing to remember which most of the influencer usually forgets you to tell is having any sort of certification, education, diploma or degree in Cinematography will give you a career boost as a beginner and remember it will only help you to land an interview rest is up to how good your skills are.


Salary Of A Cinematographer Or Director Of Photography (DOP)

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What a Cinematographer earns will depend on his or her level of experience. Freelance Cinematographers working on indie or low-budget projects will obviously earn less than those working regularly for a certain production company. At the top of the hierarchy are the “name” Cinematographers working on big-budget TV shows or studio films.

An early career Cinematographer with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $47,963 based on 69 salaries. A mid-career Cinematographer with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $60,632 based on 51 salaries.

An experienced Cinematographer with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $70,000 based on 37 salaries. In their late career (20 years and higher), employees earn an average total compensation of $75,600. Some might make even more than $100,000.


Note: USD TO INR: $1 = ₹72.91, it keeps changing everyday.

Salary also depends on the location you are working in for example in India, an entry-level Cinematographer with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of ₹270,000 based on 6 salaries.

An early career Cinematographer with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹369,730 based on 54 salaries. A mid-career Cinematographer with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹600,000 based on 10 salaries.


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