Have you ever watched a movie and thought, "How do they do that?"

Woman watching movie with wonder in her eyes.

A cinematographer is the person that makes the magic happen!

Man gesturing magic and caption that says razzmatazz.

You could be the one creating the look, color, and lighting for a scene, if the job is right for you.

What Is A Cinematographer?

A cinematographer creates a film's look, color, and lighting, and frames every scene.

Two people crouched down staring through a camera at a scene. Photo by Natalie Parham on Unsplash Photo by Natalie Parham on Unsplash

What Do They Do?

A cinematographer is responsible for:

  • Working closely with the movie's director to execute the director's vision of the story

  • Camera movement and placement for a scene

  • Lighting a scene

  • Managing both camera and lighting crews

Two men with a large camera, lighting, and microphone filming a woman laying on the ground.

Where Do Cinematographers Work?

Cinematographers work on films or television shows. They may work on a film set or in a studio but sometimes they may travel to a specific location like a desert or rainforest to shoot a specific setting for pre-production or post-production.

A film set in a desert location. A camera sits on top of a wooden box. Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

How Much Do Cinematographers Earn?

The average salary for a cinematographer in the U.S. is $62,000 USD.

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The average salary for a cinematographer in Canada is $52,000 CAD.

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You'll Enjoy This Career If:

  • You're interested in HOW a shot visually appears on film.

  • You're a good storyteller. Cinematographers support the director's vision and help further the story in a movie.

  • You have good communication skills. Cinematographers must communicate with the director and give direction to both the camera and lighting crews.

  • You like to travel. Cinematographers often travel to different locations around the world.

Man making a box with fingers and saying I am a storyteller.

Quiz

A cinematographer is responsible for:

Consider Another Career If:

  • You don't like change. Cinematographers have to adapt and balance many changes daily to support the director's vision.

  • You'd prefer a 9-5 schedule. Cinematographers often work at all hours of the day. You might have to be up early to film a sunrise or work late into the evening.

A woman wearing a lanyard, shrugging her shoulders

Take Action

A man holding a camera and shooting an image of a person standing on a staircase. Photo by Steven Van on Unsplash

Does being a cinematographer sound like an interesting career to you?

It does? Great! Then:

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This Byte has been authored by

JT

Jes Thompson

Learning Designer