What is the Process of Becoming a Cinematographer?

Last Updated on November 29, 2023 by Asfa Rasheed

DP (Director of Photography) or cinematographer is the most highly regarded job in the filmmaking industry. Similar to directors, they are the most important individuals in filmmaking and are obligated to develop a general visual impact of films. Most aspire to be behind the cameras when choosing commercials, TV shows, movies, and music videos. Besides, the work encompasses having control over the visual elements of filmmaking. So if this sounds like an appealing career, the following are some of the ways to become a cinematographer:

1.      Pursue a Course

Studying for a degree in the cinematography field can be the first step you need to achieve your dream of being a cinematographer. A cinematography course can familiarise you with the filmmaking process, the ever-evolving film technologies, visual effects, and camera composition.

It is also important to keep yourself in touch with the innovations in the field and not drag other people. Similar to every field, the filmmaking industry is both unreliable and has some risks.

As far as cinematography courses are concerned, you may explore a vast of diploma, postgraduate, and undergraduate programs.

2.      Hone Your Technical Skills

There is no way around this. The job description of cinematography needs immense technical skills and expertise. According to Mark Murphy Director, cinematography is basically the art of controlling the light. Bounce, colour, and shadow are also important tools to highlight the story.

However, if you are not able to understand how to use those technical elements, you may consider directing a crew to use them. Alternatively, you may begin with YouTube tutorials that may give you a basic understanding of lighting.

3.      Spend More Time on a Film Set

Spending more time on film sets is an excellent way to immerse yourself completely in filmmaking and observe the right cinematography practises. If you are unable to immediately land a job as a qualified cinematographer, it is okay. Many cinematographers of feature TV shows and films started as production assistants and worked their way up through dedication and hard work. 

Even when you work on a set of low-budget short film and indie music videos, the time you spend on it can give you a good introduction to camera equipment and lighting. Fortunately, film sets are no longer confined to Los Angeles and New York because of the tax benefits these two states offer. So get involved with local film scenes and do enough research. You can also opt to rent a Philadelphia film studio if you want to gain experience on how to shoot a film or music videos in an indoor studio. This can be a helpful way for you to experiment on your style and technique in filming.

4.      Put Together and Oversee a Camera Team

Video and film productions are basically a team effort, and a great component of the filmmaking crew directly works with a cinematographer. Usually, cinematographers are responsible for putting together a camera team that may help members based on the budget and project. On the other hand, those crew members will help with camera work, lighting, and electricity.

The Takeaway

Cinematographers make choices in the camera angles, lighting, and other aesthetic elements, which make up a frame. In most cases, the responsibility of a cinematographer is filled by just one person. In order to succeed as a professional cinematographer, you must be creative and have a stronger interest in arts and cinema.

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