How to Become a Director of Photography

Many DPs come from the camera department. As with all the departments on set, the specific responsibilities of each position depend entirely on the size and nature of the shoot. Generally speaking, though, there are three primary positions in the camera department: the camera operator, the first assistant camera, and the second assistant camera. The camera operator is the individual physically working behind the camera, their eye in the viewfinder. While some DPs prefer to work the camera themselves, it is usually to their advantage that someone trusted does it for them while they watch the shot from a monitor or with her or his own naked eye, getting a better sense of the shot. Since the camera operator is one of the few positions a DP may want for his or herself, it goes without saying that many have made a direct jump from here to cinematographer.

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