Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How to Become a Cinematographer

A cinematographer is considered by some to be more important than the director and the magician of the big screen.

Cinematography is an art form that has evolved through the years, and a cinematographer is a highly coveted position in the entertainment industry. Follow these few steps to become a cinematographer and hold one of these enviable positions.

Research trade schools or vocational institutions that teach cinematography or filmic photography. Find one that meets your financial level and is relatively accessible to you.

Learn about film emulsions (film chemistry), camera types and uses, lighting techniques and basics and film lenses. Attend classes at a school or institution so you can see these various aspects in practice.

Stretch your artistic eye by taking many still photographs and filming as much as possible. Become a consumer of photography. Learn to distinguish between good and bad lighting as well as the emotional effects of camera angle and film development.

Check local listings for films or television programs being produced in your area for jobs as camera specialists or lighting specialists. These jobs will get your foot in the door. Inquire with news stations or movie studios about internships, which are the best way to become acquainted with the business.

Shoot as much film as possible on super 8mm film. Distribute your film projects through networking at your internship or learning institution. It will help get your unique work to the people who would be able to start your career.

Watch as many great films as you can. Research the Academy Award winning films for cinematography and study the craft of lighting and framing. Continue to make your own films and work on some level in the camera or lighting industry of the market.


Cinematographers are sometimes referred to as Director of Photography. There is not much difference but the title and the amount of responsibility and sometimes, the pay. Know the title you are undertaking when taking a job, since it could mean a difference in your pay rate and billing on the end product. Work as many jobs on a film crew as possible as this will prepare you for working as the main cinematographer on a film. Experience and apprenticeship are a big part of the cinematography business. Any way you can get your foot in the door on a movie set will be helpful to you, even if it means being an assistant to the caterer. Then you can see how they use the film equipment and possibly get some valuable networking contacts.