- Manage the camerawork and capturing of footage for TV shows, film and video productions
- Develop both creative and technical skills
- Exciting and demanding work, with the opportunity to travel
As a Director of photography you'll work with directors, camera crews and lighting departments to get the right frame, lighting and mood for a film or TV programme. You'll plan camera angles, shot sizes and lighting. Before filming, you'll discuss with a director how a script will be translated for the screen. You'll then visit a location (known as a recce) before filming to check its suitability, order filming and lighting equipment, test equipment, manage all aspects of filming, sometimes operating a camera, supervise the camera crew to decide on any special camera moves, work closely with the lighting team to decide on lighting techniques, and review film footage with the director.
- Work with directors, camera crews and lighting departments to get the right frame, lighting and mood for a film or TV programme
- Plan camera angles, shot sizes and lighting
- Before filming, you'll discuss with a director how a script will be translated for the screen
- You'll then visit a location (known as a recce) before filming to check its suitability
- Order filming and lighting equipment
- Test equipment
- Manage all aspects of filming, sometimes operating a camera
- Supervise the camera crew to decide on any special camera moves
- Work closely with the lighting team to decide on lighting techniques
- Review film footage with the director
You'll usually work freelance and be paid a fee for each individual contract or project. Rates will vary based on the type of film and budget. Your hours will be long and irregular. You may need to work 12 to 14 hours a day during filming, including evenings and weekends. You could be based in a film or TV studio, or on location and you may need to travel in the UK, or overseas.
You'll usually need creative ability, communication skills, the ability to lead and motivate others, an eye for detail, a steady hand and IT skills to become a director of photography.
There are no set requirements for this role but it'll help if you can get paid or unpaid experience with community film productions, amateur or student film projects, independent film production companies or camera equipment suppliers. You can search for film and TV companies to approach for experience through media business listing services like PACT and The Knowledge.
You may be able to get training through one of the new entrant training schemes that broadcasters and film bodies offer, for example: BBC trainee schemes, Channel 4 training scheme, ITV Careers or BFI. You could also take short courses in camera operation run by film schools, regional screen agencies and private training providers.
Joining an organisation like the British Society of Cinematographers for industry news and latest developments in camera techniques and technology may be helpful.
Alternatively, you could start first as a runner, then as a camera operator trainee and work your way up. You'll need a lot of experience before you can move on to become a director of photography. You can improve your prospects by developing specialist filming skills like aerial, night-time or underwater photography.
You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject such as photography, art, drama or film studies to gain some experience.
You could also take a college course to develop your camera skills before looking for work. Relevant courses include Level 2 Diploma In Creative Media Production & Technology, Level 3 Certificate in Media Techniques and Level 3 Diploma in Photography. It may give you an advantage if you can find a course that offers practical experience and possibly a work placement.
With experience, you could work on TV and film productions with bigger budgets, or become a director or producer.