Career Opportunities in Cinematography - Check here (2022)

  • Written By Aaron_K
  • Last Modified 09-06-2022

Career Opportunities in Cinematography - Check here (1)

Career in Cinematography – Cinematography can be literally quoted as ‘recording motion’. It is derived from the Greek words ‘Kinema’ that is motion, and ‘graphy’ implies recording. Every visual element that appears on the screen is the result of cinematography. As a cinematographer renders visible reality to the director’s vision, he or she is also called Director of Photography or DOP.

Cinematography is an integral part of filmmaking that manages visual elements. This branch of cinema is quite tough to learn as it assesses a person’s creativity while handling the camera. The movie would not lead to success if the cinematography of the film goes wrong.

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The technical procedure involved in cinematography includes all visual effects on the screen, camera movement, lighting, various angles of the camera, lens, filters, focus, colour, the intensity of the field, exposure, etc. Apart from this, it also consists of shooting techniques and methodologies to portray the best picture to the viewers.

The cinematographer is accountable for camera-related actions like angle, lighting, shots, filters etc. Apart from this, he or she must be aware of the script and scene and should work in resonance with creative crew members, director and other production teams.

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Career in Cinematography – Roles and Responsibilities of a Cinematographer

Cinematographer heads the team of experts that are responsible for special visual effects and photographic pictures. He works in resonance with the team of creative coordinators and administrators that deal with camera and lighting elements. Some of his main job responsibilities are specified below –

  1. To study and analyse the storyline, characters, screenplay and other parameters involved in the film and provide a creative visual element in coordination with the director.
  2. To initiate a proper channel of research related to the shots, climate conditions, available points and sites, position of the sun and other necessary aspects included in shooting a scene.
  3. To pick relevant tools and equipment for the movie shots.
  4. To take various test shots before the final scene to examine the camera positioning, angle, framing, lighting, filters, colour, techniques etc.
  5. To finalise the characters’ costumes, hair, makeup, and colour combinations of the set.
  6. To guide creative and crew members while using equipment and tools.
  7. To provide appropriate advice to the team members to perfectly shoot the scene and bring desired outcomes.
  8. The cinematographer leads the team of crew members and imposes a final stamp on the shot.
  9. He maintains the mood of the visual impact throughout the film.
  10. He also keeps vast networking and relationship with various directors, producers and actors of the film industry.
  11. He is quite abreast with advances in the film industry and also ensures to attend the relevant workshops and training sessions.
  12. He is skilled with advanced camera features and techniques along with various lighting effects.

Career in Cinematography – Academic Qualifications

The educational background of the aspirants who want to nurture their career in Cinematography is as under –

  1. He or she must be a Graduate in any stream to apply for various diploma courses in Cinematography.
  2. Some of the cinematography programs require 10+2 qualified candidates provided they possess some certification in the same field.
  3. Apart from the academic qualification, the aspirants must possess a creative vision and good eyesight. He or she must have certain other attributes like passion towards work, orientation, interpersonal skills, potential to work independently, great imagination, foresightedness etc.

Career Options in Cinematography in India

Cinematography is a field that yields enormous job opportunities for young talent. With the expansion in the film and commercial industry business, the demand for cinematographers has risen.

Individuals with zero experience need to start from scratch and earn massive skills in this stream to become a well-polished professional. Initially, you can join as an assistant cinematographer and learn camera handling along with new dimensions of capturing the shots.

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Job Opportunities

Nowadays, cinematographers can work in TV and web series, film creation units, studios, video businesses etc, unlike earlier days, the film industry was the only choice. They can find ample job options not only in India but also abroad. Moreover, short films, web series, TV shows, documentaries etc., have opened the doors for struggling cinematographers. Some of the main job profiles are stated below –

  1. Director of Photography.
  2. Video Editor.
  3. Cinematographer.
  4. Cameraman.
  5. Videographer.
  6. Freelancer that works independently for various projects.

Average Salary Packages of Cinematographers

The salary of a cinematographer depends upon various factors like job profile, work, experience, knowledge, skills, specialisation, type of industry etc. Undoubtedly, cinematographers earn more money in film units than in the media business.

In India, the starting salary range of a cinematographer into any business is between Rs. 94,000 and 1,00,000 per annum. A little experience may provide a salary push of Rs 500,000 Rs. 600,000 per year to the professionals. On the other side, the US pays about $48,000 per year to its cinematographers, depending upon their job role and company.

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Career Opportunities in Cinematography – List of Courses

  1. One Year Certificate Course in Electronic Cinematography from FTII, Pune.
  2. Three Year Diploma in Cinematography from FTII, Pune.
  3. Three Year Cinematography Course from (SRFTI) Kolkata.
  4. Two Year Course in Cinematography for Electronic & Digital Media from (SRFTI) Kolkata.
  5. B.Sc in Filmmaking with Cinematography from WWI, Mumbai.
  6. Advanced Diploma in Filmmaking with Cinematography from WWI, Mumbai.
  7. Two Year PG Diploma in Cinematography from L V Prasad Film And TV Academy, Chennai.

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Career in Cinematography in India – Top National and International Schools

There are various institutes and universities across the globe that offer Graduation and Postgraduate Diploma courses in Cinematography. The program curriculum includes classroom training as well as outdoor projects. With the rising competition to join such courses, the institutes have raised their selection bar. Some top-notch institutes of Cinematography in India and abroad are as under –

Top National Institutes of Cinematography

  1. Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.
  2. Whistling Woods International (WWI), Mumbai.
  3. Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata.
  4. Asian Academy of Film & Television (AAFT), Noida.
  5. Biju Pattanaik Film & Television Instituteof Odisha.
  6. Government Film and Television Institute, Bangalore.
  7. National Instituteof Design (NID), Ahmadabad.
  8. L.V Prasad Film Institute,Chennai and Trivandrum.
  9. K. R. Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts (KRNNIVSA).

Top International Schools of Cinematography

  1. American Film Institute Conservatory, Los Angeles.
  2. California Institute of the Arts.
  3. Florida State University.
  4. School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  5. University of Texas – Austin.
  6. Tisch School of Arts, New York.
  7. School of Cinematic Arts, California.
  8. Columbia University, New York.
Career Opportunities in Cinematography - Check here (4)

Career in Cinematography – Course Details and Admission Procedure

Choosing cinematography as a career option requires the individuals to pursue professional courses after 10+2 or Graduation. The admission process and diploma course details of some colleges are mentioned below –

Diploma in Cinematography

Diploma in Cinematography is a full-time undergraduate course with a duration of 1 or 2 years. Depending upon the demand of the aspirants, many institutes offer it as an additional course along with other main courses in filmmaking. Candidates must have cleared 10+2, and no minimum marks are required to get eligible for a diploma in cinematography. As far as the age criterion is concerned, every institute prescribes its own. Most of them also consider the aspirants with age above 15 years.

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Course Details

The major objective of this course is to train the visual effects of filmmaking the candidates. This may include various techniques of camera handling, angle, shots, movement of the camera, lighting, editing, sound effects, colour, shot size, the art of creativity and methodologies to deal with several advanced devices used on the set.

Some of the major topics that come under the curriculum of Diploma in Cinematography are – Film Dimension and Packaging, Films for Motion Picture, Processing and Printing, Shooting Format, Motion Picture Cameras, Various Camera Test, Types of Digital filmmaking, Types of Film Cameras, Cinema Projection and Special Cinematography.

Fee structure – The fee structure of this course depends upon the specialization and institute. However, candidates can expect the average fee range between Rs 35,000 and Rs 1,25,000.

Top Recruiters – Again, the placement of the candidates depends upon the type of institute and their overall performance in the course. Some top recruiters can be listed as Zee Studios, Doordarshan, Film studios, Associated Broadcasting Company Ltd, TV Studios etc.

Job Profiles – After completing this program, aspirants will become apt for various job roles like Camera Production Assistant, Camera Operator, Motion Control Operator and Camera Assistant. The experienced cinematographers will be offered elite roles like Director of Photography, Video Editor, Cameraman, Videographer etc.

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Career in Cinematography in India – FAQs

Question – How can I begin my career in cinematography?
Answer – To start your career in cinematography, you must look for part-time or full-time diploma courses from reputed colleges. You can also pursue full-fledged UG or PG degree courses in cinematography from top-notch colleges like Whistling Woods, CRAFT, AAFT, FTII, etc. Some top recruiters look forward to trained young cinematographers and hire them at the time of placements. Initially, you can join video businesses, studios etc., to expand your wings and further gain experience in the same field to upgrade your position.

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Question – Is it mandatory to gain extensive experience to become a successful cinematographer?
Answer – Yes, experience in cinematography makes a difference. Apart from video businesses, film units and media keep their eyes on the experienced professionals who are filled with creativity and foresightedness.

Question – What are the top colleges that offer cinematography courses in India?
Answer – Top institutes that provide various cinematography courses in India are listed below-

  1. Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune
  2. Whistling Woods International (WWI), Mumbai
  3. Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata
  4. Asian Academy of Film & Television (AAFT), Noida
  5. Biju Pattanaik Film & Television Instituteof Odisha

Question – Which job roles are apt for a novice and an experienced cinematographer?
Answer – An amateur cinematographer can apply for the job roles like Camera Production Assistant, Motion Control Operator, Camera Operator and Camera Assistant. An experienced cinematographer can bag various privileged roles like Director of Photography, Cameraman, Video Editor, Videographer etc.

Question – What is the minimum educational requirement to apply for various cinematography courses?
Answer – To apply for a UG diploma and degree course, candidates must have attained minimum passing marks (as decided by the institute) in 10+2. The colleges prescribe the age limit, and most of them prefer candidates of 15 years or above. PG Diploma or Degree course requires the aspirants to be graduated in any stream from recognised university or college with minimum qualifying score set by the institute.

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Stay tuned for the latest news and updates on Career in Cinematography.


Career Opportunities in Cinematography - Check here? ›

Career Options in Cinematography in India
  • Director of Photography.
  • Video Editor.
  • Cinematographer.
  • Cameraman.
  • Videographer.
  • Freelancer that works independently for various projects.

What are the fields in cinematography? ›

Careers in Film & Career Paths
  • Director. ...
  • Producer. ...
  • Set Designer. ...
  • Director of Photography. ...
  • Costume Designer. ...
  • Prop Master. ...
  • Makeup Artist. ...
  • Movie Editor.
Dec 1, 2014

How can I get into cinematography? ›

Cinematographers often need a degree from a film school to begin work. In these programs, you would learn the basics of lighting and camera techniques. Most often one begins as a Camera Assistant and then becomes a Cinematographer.

What qualifications do you need to be a cinematographer? ›

Cinematographers need a bachelor's degree, and can attend technical schools or fine arts programs offering cinematography techniques and theory. They also need good vision, strong eye-hand coordination, an artistic sensibility, and an understanding of digital cameras and technology.

What are the 4 Roles of the cinematographer? ›

The cinematographer's responsibilities include reading scripts and liaising with the director and visiting locations to take test shots. You should suggest suitable lighting, angles, filters, and techniques to the director, and also work with the processing lab and post-production team.

Is cinematography a good career? ›

Is cinematography a good career? Cinematography is a highly specialized field that requires a mix of creativity and technical skills. It can be a challenging and rewarding career, but it is not for everyone. As with any profession, the level of success you achieve depends largely on your own efforts and dedication.

What are jobs after cinematography? ›

Career Options in Cinematography in India
  • Director of Photography.
  • Video Editor.
  • Cinematographer.
  • Cameraman.
  • Videographer.
  • Freelancer that works independently for various projects.

What is a cinematographer salary? ›

According to self-reported statistics from Payscale, the national cinematographer salary average is $56,775 per year with an hourly average of $19.28 as of 2019. Per CareerExplorer, cinematographers in the 90th percentile make an average of $106,547 per year, which is an hourly rate of $51.22.

How difficult is cinematography? ›

Cinematography require a lot of times, dedication and passion. To point and press the record button is easy. What you need is mastering it, knowing where to point the camera, what to do and how to set the right setting depends on the situation. Overall, it only takes 30 minutes to learn the “Basics".

How long does it take to study cinematography? ›

Associate degree programs (2 years) in cinematography provide training in practical skills, such as sound and lighting design, while bachelor's programs (4 years) prepare students for work as assistant film directors or entry-level photography directors.

What should I study for cinematography? ›

Here are the major subjects covered in Cinematography courses:
  • Digital Filmmaking.
  • Types of Film Cameras.
  • Processing and Printing.
  • Special Cinematography.
  • Script Writing.
  • Camera Techniques.
  • Lighting.
  • Scene Composition.

Do cinematographers make good money? ›

Salary Ranges for Cinematographers

The salaries of Cinematographers in the US range from $22,175 to $105,120 , with a median salary of $49,080 . The middle 57% of Cinematographers makes between $49,080 and $63,855, with the top 86% making $105,120.

Are cinematographers in demand? ›

Cinematographers, sometimes referred to as directors of photography, are skilled in the operation of the camera and lighting equipment used to produce movies, television shows and other film projects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts strong competition for jobs in this field over the next few years.

What is another name for cinematographer? ›

A cinematographer is also called the "director of photography," or the DP.

Can you study cinematography? ›

There are a number of degree programs available at most film schools, although most employers prefer a bachelor's degree in cinematography or photography. Such a program will often give students an overview in all aspects of filmmaking, including lighting techniques, film & video production, and directing.

What makes a good cinematographer? ›

Style – Being technical is great but having vision is what is important. The role of the cinematographer is both technical and creative. A good DP has to know both sides and be able to communicate in both languages if they are going to be successful but when push comes to show a DP is hired for their vision.

Who is the highest paid cinematographer? ›

Top Grossing Cinematographer at the Domestic Box OfficeBETA
RankNameDomestic Box Office
1John Schwartzman$3,127,929,105
2Dean Semler$2,995,911,840
3Don Burgess$2,982,186,430
4Jeremy Lasky$2,820,961,354
78 more rows

Where does a cinematographer work? ›

Cinematographers typically work on film sets and studios, although their pre-production and post-production work may include scoping out or work on location or reviewing film in a studio.

What is the role of cinematographer? ›

The main role of a Cinematographer is to communicate the script visually with the audience in mind. It's visual storytelling at it's best. From an operational side, the Cinematographer is the person who actually gets shoots the film, TV series or commercial. But there's more to it than that.

What is a cinematographer salary? ›

According to self-reported statistics from Payscale, the national cinematographer salary average is $56,775 per year with an hourly average of $19.28 as of 2019. Per CareerExplorer, cinematographers in the 90th percentile make an average of $106,547 per year, which is an hourly rate of $51.22.

What's the difference between cinematography and videography? ›

While cinematography is more about the art and science of making a movie, videography is primarily about recording an event. The former is more creative and intertwined with the art of storytelling, the latter is about capturing and recording the proceedings with material constraints and limited resources.

Is cinematography hard to learn? ›

Becoming a cinematographer isn't an easy task. It takes years of study, practice, and networking. In addition to a lifetime of learning. If you are passionate about becoming a cinematographer your best bet is go to school, get a camera and start shooting, and network.


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