What does a Director of Photography do?
The Director of Photography (DoP) is responsible for the look and feel of a film or TV show. On productions, they are the expert for all things lighting, framing and camerawork. The Director will set out their creative vision for the production and the DoP will set out to achieve this.
They lead the camera and lighting crews, rehearsing movements and changes they may need to make during shots, ensuring the technical team are ready when it comes to filming for real. As a head of the technical department, DoPs will work closely with the Directors throughout the production process and flag up any shots which aren’t usable.
What skills does a Director of Photography need?
Technical Knowledge: An understanding of cameras and each one’s specific limitations.
A good eye: As they’ll be leading the camera teams, they need to be able to frame a shot and create its composition.
Decision making: Running the technical department of a production is quite a challenging feat, however a DoP needs to make decisions quickly and change things where it doesn’t go to plan.
Communication: Like all leadership roles, communication is crucial. DoPs need to ensure everyone in their team knows what they need to do.
Who does a Director of Photography work with?
The Director of Photography will oversee everyone in the technical team for a production. That will include Camera Operators, Focus Pullers, Grips and trainees.
They’ll also work closely with the
How much does a Director of Photography earn?
DoPs are some of the most senior staff involved in a production and nearly all of them can set their own rates depending on the production, schedule and budget. A DoP with a strong list of credits that they’ve worked on will command a far higher day rate than someone who’s just reached that level. For comparison though, an equivalent salary may range from £50,000 to £300,000.
How to become a Director of Photography?
As a senior role, there are multiple routes to become a DoP. The most common routes are starting out in the technical team as a Camera Operator, Grip or Focus Puller and building a strong portfolio. Making the leap from purely operating a camera to a DoP can be difficult, so another route is by becoming an Assistant Director before transitioning to a DoP.