How to Become a Cinematographer: Career Map & Salary - Leverage Edu (2022)

Cinematography is writing with images in movement and with sounds’- Robert Bresson. Cinematography has one of the most important roles in the making of a film. Often referred to as the Director of Photography (DoP), a Cinematographer is responsible for the artistic and technical quality of the shots during any shoot.Pursuing this popular career in filmmaking, you will be making various decisions regarding the use of cameras and lenses as well as crafting a particular shot to lighting and camera positions. If you have the creative eye to turn even the simplest of stories into a visually appealing film, then this career is perfect for you! Here’s a complete guide on how to become a cinematographer, from the education needed to qualifications, skills, salary outlook and more!

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This Blog Includes:
  1. What does a Cinematographer Do?
  2. Skills Required
  3. How to Become a Cinematographer After 12th
  4. Pursuing Cinematography Courses
  5. Eligibility Criteria for Cinematography
  6. Top Film Schools
  7. Top Film Schools in India

What does a Cinematographer Do?

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A cinematographer works hand-in-hand with the director to decide the composition of the scene on-shoot & off-shoot. The visual impact of the overall film or any shot is decided through the work of the Director of Photography. In simple words, the job of a cinematographer is to bring a story from a script to life on the screen. For those planning to become a Cinematographer, technical training in terms of camera, lighting and film direction is necessary. If you think that you have a sense of observation and an artistic vision that can make your audience engage and relate with your work, then get ready for an exciting dive into the world of cinematography as we move forward with this blog.

How to Become a Film Maker?

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Skills Required

A good cinematographer needs to steadily work through obstacles. The profession itself demands a huge chunk of experience and practice. Unless you are a prodigy, you will have to go through the general hierarchy: working as a trainee, then comes handling camera jobs, assistant operators is next, and finally your director of photography.To become a successful cinematographer, there are certain skills and qualities you need to master.

Must-Have Skills to Become a Cinematographer

  • Imaginative: The bread and butter in terms of qualities for a cinematographer. You have to combine your technical skills with honed creativity and imagination at all stages.
  • Rigorous: As a cinematographer, you have to meet a lot of expectations at every stage and work to provide demanding answers from the director.
  • Meticulous: Juggling with tight budgets and deadlines comes ingrained in the profession. Coordinating between multiple facets and trades within an organization is as important as any other skill.
  • Selection of shooting equipment and lighting equipment appropriately according to the requirement for a shot or the whole shoot.
  • Identifying the composition and characteristics based on the scenario in place.
  • Establishing the components in the scene and placement of lighting.
  • Installing the equipment for a specific location.
  • How to adjust cameras
  • Fix technical mistakes with the recordings or the shoot
  • Planning meticulously for the shoot
  • Learn basic maintenance and repairs for the equipment
  • Coordinating with multiple teams and facets of production

Thus, to become a Cinematographer, here are the central technical skills you must master:

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How to Become a Cinematographer: Career Map & Salary - Leverage Edu (2)
  • Camera Usage
  • Procedure for equipment mounting techniques
  • Audio-visual technology types and products
  • Camera basics for tripod-based, portable cameras and on crane cameras
  • Composition, Lighting, and Optical Skills
  • Learn the types and uses of Lighting
  • Characteristics of other lighting equipment as well as shooting equipment
  • Mechanical shooting equipment (remote controlled and automated)
  • Video editing, VFX, and creation software.

How to Become a Cinematographer After 12th

Students interested in pursuing cinematography after graduation can take up various diploma courses or bachelor’s courses in cinematography, photography, or filmmaking. Good photography skills and a passion for direction are the two most important skills required for learning cinematography. The minimum eligibility criteria for cinematography after 12th is 50-60% in 12th boards from any stream.

Pursuing Cinematography Courses

Studying a degree in this field is the first step you need to take to fulfil your dream of becoming a Cinematographer. Cinematography courses will familiarise you with camera composition, filmmaking, the ever-evolving film technologies, range of visual effects, to name a few. Alongside, it is essential that you keep yourself in touch with innovations in your field and not lag behind other individuals. Understand that the film industry like every other art industry is unreliable and poses risk. Even though self-learning skills are on the rise, there is no substitute for a formal education especially in a technical field such as this.

When it comes to Cinematography courses, you can explore a wide range of diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Here is the list of most popular cinematography courses:

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  • Diploma in Cinematography
  • Diploma in Animation
  • Diploma in Creative Media Production
  • Film Production Diploma
  • Diploma in Digital Film and Video
  • Diploma in Digital Filmmaking
  • Screenwriting Diploma
  • Diploma in Digital Filmmaking
  • Bachelor’s in Cinematography
  • BA in Film and Media Production
  • Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM)
  • Bachelor’s in Film and Television Production
  • Bachelor of Applied Arts in Film and Media Production
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts – Major in Film
  • BA in Film and Media Production
  • Bachelor of Film, Television, and Animation
  • BA in Film Production
  • Bachelor of Creative Media in Screen Production
  • BFA in Motion Picture Arts
  • Bachelor in Film Production and Cinematography
  • Master’s in Film and Television
  • Master of Moving Image
  • Master of Screen Studies
  • MA in Filmmaking
  • MA in Cinematography
  • Master’s in Digital Film and Television Production

Eligibility Criteria for Cinematography

Students from any stream or career orientation can apply for cinematography courses. Students with a passion for photography, lighting, and cinematography can opt for this career and excel. The minimum requirement for bachelor and diploma courses is 50% in 12th boards and a portfolio for master’s courses.

  • Students have to pass their 10+2 or equivalent examination from a recognized board for a diploma or a bachelor’s degree.
  • If you are planning to study any of these programs abroad, you will have to provide language proficiency scores of IELTS/TOEFL/PTE along with an SOP with LOR for foreign universities.

Top Film Schools

Going to a Film School is an essential step in your journey towards becoming a Cinematographer. A film school will help you gain the requisite technical knowledge as well as industry exposure. We get how hard it is to decide on a perfect film school for you and that’s why we’ve combined a list of top film schools for you. Here are the top film schools in the world:

  • American Film Institute
  • New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
  • Los Angeles Film School
  • Vancouver Film School
  • London Film School
  • Concordia University
  • Sydney Film School
  • National Film and Television School
  • Norwegian Film School
  • Beijing Film Academy
  • Lodz Film School

Top Film Schools in India

  • Film and Television Institute of India
  • Whistling Woods International
  • Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute
  • Asian Academy of Film and Television
  • The ICE Institute
  • Center for Research in Art of Film and Television

Job Outlook & Salary

The scope of cinematography is infinite and It is safe to say that the need of cinematographers is only increasing with time and there is no better time to start than now. Once you have completed a degree, you need to explore as many internship opportunities as possible. Cultivate and establish good relationships & you might see the results of it almost instantaneously. Volunteer for small projects because that is how you gain experience and in this field, the only experience will help you to get your desired pay.

The salary of a Cinematographer in India is depends on the expertise and the project they are working. As an entry-level cinematographer, you can earn a good salary of around 80,000 INR-90,000 INR and with more experience, you can expect better packages of 3 Lakhs to 12 Lakhs.

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Thus, the process of how to become a cinematographer is not about just steps but rather needs hard work and dedication as you need to perfect your cinematography skills along with work on visual storytelling. Want to study Cinematography and Filmmaking? Let our Leverage Edu guide you in choosing the best course and university to actualise your career aspirations! Sign up for a free session with us today!

FAQs

What qualifications do I need to be a cinematographer? ›

Cinematographer Requirements:
  • Bachelor's degree in Film, production, or a similar discipline.
  • An associate's degree is also acceptable.
  • Extensive experience working in the film industry.
  • Stamina and physical strength.
  • The ability to work long hours and spend time away from home.

What is the average salary of a professional cinematographer? ›

The average salary for Cinematographer is £34,888 per year in the London Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Cinematographer in the London Area is £1,751, with a range from £402 - £7,625.

How many years does it take to study cinematography? ›

Diploma in Cinematography is an undergraduate course having 1 or 2 years duration. It's conducted as a full-time course and the minimum qualification to learn cinematography is 10+2. There is no minimum percentage required to apply for the course.

How do I get started in 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 should I study for cinematography? ›

Here is the list of most popular cinematography courses:
  • Diploma in Cinematography.
  • Diploma in Animation.
  • Diploma in Creative Media Production.
  • Film Production Diploma.
  • Diploma in Digital Film and Video.
  • Diploma in Digital Filmmaking.
  • Screenwriting Diploma.
  • Diploma in Digital Filmmaking.

Do you need math for cinematography? ›

A great deal of math goes into the work of the cinematographer and their cameramen. Much of this work has to do with the video camera itself, which requires the use of math to choose the appropriate aperture speeds, the location of focal points, and to decide on the best camera angles for a given shot.

How much do Netflix cinematographers make? ›

The estimated total pay for a Cinematographer at Netflix is $173,302 per year.

Do cinematographers need degrees? ›

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.

Which country is best to study cinematography? ›

The United Kingdom tops the list as the best country for film studies thanks to its reputable film schools and award-winning alumni.

Where can I study cinematography for free? ›

The StudioBinder Film School is an ever-expanding series of video master classes for anyone that wants to learn practical filmmaking and cinematography techniques. These filmmaking courses are 100% free and in video.

Is learning cinematography hard? ›

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.

Do cinematographers make a lot of money? ›

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.

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 skills are needed for cinematography? ›

Breaking Down The Steps To Success
  • Technological Expertise – or at the very least, a very solid working understanding of the latest filming technology and software. ...
  • Flexible Creativity. ...
  • Written and Visual Storytelling. ...
  • Decisive and Problem-Solving Leadership. ...
  • Communication.
15 May 2017

Is film school Expensive? ›

Earning a college degree in film at a college or university can easily cost as much as $100,000 or more, and even career-focused trade school programs can run anywhere from $20,000-$70,000 to attend.

Is a degree in film worth it? ›

Not only does film school help you in the field, but it can also aid in your post-graduate job hunt. Listing a film degree on your resume can increase your chances of being hired by a production company, editing house, or writer's room. This is because employers recognize the skills it takes to complete a film program.

What are the 3 basic elements of cinematography? ›

So there you have it: exposure, lighting and camera placement and movement.

Is cinematography an art or science? ›

Cinematography is the art and craft of making motion pictures by capturing a story visually. Though, technically, cinematography is the art and the science of recording light either electronically onto an image sensor or chemically onto film.

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 is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest Paying Occupations
OCCUPATION2021 MEDIAN PAY
General internal medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Family medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Emergency medicine physiciansThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows

What do the top cinematographers earn? ›

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$2,820,961,879
78 more rows

Who makes the most money in the film industry? ›

Let's take a look at five of them.
  • Executive Producer. Top of the list is the executive producer – the person who controls the entire project. ...
  • Director. ...
  • Screenwriter. ...
  • Editor. ...
  • Other opportunities. ...
  • Media Schools.

Are cinematographers happy? ›

The majority of cinematographers find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

What are the 4 Roles of the cinematographer? ›

6 Duties and Responsibilities of a Cinematographer
  • Chooses a visual style for the film. ...
  • Establishes the camera setup for every shot. ...
  • Determines the lighting for every scene. ...
  • Explores the potential of every location. ...
  • Attends rehearsals. ...
  • Elevates the vision of the director.
1 Oct 2021

Who hires a cinematographer? ›

As you may already know, the core creative team of any film consists of the director, the cinematographer, and the production designer; thus the cinematographer is one of the most important collaborators a director will hire on to their film.

Which country is best for photography jobs? ›

Countries like France and England are specifically filled with job opportunities for photographers and journalists to establish their careers within an international setting.

Can photography Make U Rich? ›

Full-time photographers can typically make anywhere between $30,000 and $75,000 per year, and some make even more than that. Many photographers prefer to transition into photography part-time so they can get an idea of if it will be financially sustainable as a career.

Which type of photography is most in demand? ›

Portrait and family photography is probably the most common type of freelance photography. If this is your niche, it's easy to get busy very quickly! This type of photography is constantly in demand, as families grow and change over the year.

Which degree is best for film industry? ›

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinematic arts, film, and television production is a truly one-of-a-kind program that takes most students four years to complete. Offered by the School of Cinematic Art, this degree blends training in the liberal arts with specialized courses in the profession.

Which country is No 1 in film industry? ›

Top 50 countries ranked by number of feature films produced, 2005–2010
Rank (2010)CountryNumber of feature films produced1
2007
1India1,164
2US909
3China402
47 more rows

Which course is best for film industry? ›

Some of the popular postgraduate Film Making courses in India include:
  • MA in Film Studies.
  • PG Diploma in TV Direction & Script Writing.
  • PG Diploma in TV Production.
  • MSc in Film Making.
  • MSc in Film & TV Production.
  • PG Diploma in Cinematography.
  • MPA in Film Making.
  • MSc in Cinema.

How can I practice cinematography by myself? ›

How To Practice Cinematography BY YOURSELF! - YouTube

How can I get film opportunities? ›

How to get into the film industry
  1. Consider getting a bachelor's degree. ...
  2. Craft your resume. ...
  3. Compile your portfolio. ...
  4. Maintain a professional website. ...
  5. Search for shoots in your area. ...
  6. Contact local camera rental shops. ...
  7. Get involved in local productions. ...
  8. Consider searching for work in a film production hub.

Can I learn cinematography online? ›

Learn Cinematography with paid and free online courses and MOOCs from RIT and other top universities around the world. Read reviews to decide if a class is right for you.

How do cinematographers find work? ›

Where can I find entry-level cinematography jobs? Freelance jobs in film production, including for cinematographers and camera operators, can be found, first and foremost, online: Industry job sites include more specialized search engines and resources specifically for those looking for work in film and TV.

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.

What GCSEs do you need to be a cinematographer? ›

Entry requirements

You'll usually need: 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course. 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and a creative subject.

Can I become a cinematographer without a degree? ›

A bachelor's degree is required for cinematographers, who can further their education in fine arts or technical colleges that provide courses in cinematography theory and practice.

Is it hard to be a cinematographer? ›

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.

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.

Which degree is best for film industry? ›

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinematic arts, film, and television production is a truly one-of-a-kind program that takes most students four years to complete. Offered by the School of Cinematic Art, this degree blends training in the liberal arts with specialized courses in the profession.

Who hires a cinematographer? ›

As you may already know, the core creative team of any film consists of the director, the cinematographer, and the production designer; thus the cinematographer is one of the most important collaborators a director will hire on to their film.

WHAT A levels do I need to study film? ›

Average entry requirements for film studies are:
  • UCAS points: 128.
  • A-levels: ABB.
  • Scottish Highers: ABBB.
  • BTEC Nationals: DD.
  • International Baccalaureate: 32.

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.

Do cinematographers make a lot of money? ›

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 do cinematographers find work? ›

Where can I find entry-level cinematography jobs? Freelance jobs in film production, including for cinematographers and camera operators, can be found, first and foremost, online: Industry job sites include more specialized search engines and resources specifically for those looking for work in film and TV.

What qualities should a cinematographer have? ›

Having these five qualities could make a difference in a filmmaker's level of success and personal satisfaction in the profession.
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Artistic Talent and Creativity. ...
  • Strong Leadership. ...
  • Excellent Time Management. ...
  • Organizational Skills.

What are the 4 Roles of the cinematographer? ›

6 Duties and Responsibilities of a Cinematographer
  • Chooses a visual style for the film. ...
  • Establishes the camera setup for every shot. ...
  • Determines the lighting for every scene. ...
  • Explores the potential of every location. ...
  • Attends rehearsals. ...
  • Elevates the vision of the director.
1 Oct 2021

What is life like as a cinematographer? ›

Credit: Ryan Green. A cinematographer is like a photographer, but for movies; they're responsible for the framing and lighting of every shot of every scene. Your average feature-film shoot day never really starts or ends but is a continuation of the previous day, with a few night terrors linking the two.

Which country is best for cinematography? ›

The United Kingdom tops the list as the best country for film studies thanks to its reputable film schools and award-winning alumni.

Are cinematographers happy? ›

The majority of cinematographers find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

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