Cinematographers and Directors of Photography



The cinematographer, also known as the director of photography or DP, is a master of the movie camera and lighting equipment. This professional is instrumental in establishing the mood of a film by putting the narrative aspects of a script into visual form. The cinematographer is responsible for every shot's framing, lighting, color level, and exposure—elements that set the artistic tone of the film. Approximately 29,400 television, video, and motion picture camera operators (a category that includes cinematographe...

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Bachelor's Degree



Several years' experience



Digital Media


Personality Traits



Many cinematographers and DPs do freelance work or have jobs under union contracts. They may work for employers ranging from major studios producing films with multimillion-dollar budgets to small, independent producers who are financing a film with their credit cards. As a result, their earnings vary widely.

When starting out as a camera operator, an individual may volunteer for a job, ...

Work Environment

Conditions of work will vary depending on the size and nature of the production. In television production and in movies, cinematographers may work both indoors and outdoors. Indoors, conditions can be cramped, while outdoors there may be heat, cold, rain, or snow. Cinematographers and DPs may need to travel for weeks at a time while a project is being shot on location, and some locations, such ...


Employment opportunities for camera operators are expected to grow by 8 percent (faster than the average for all careers) from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). However, competition for top jobs will be fierce because so many people are attracted to this business. 

Because of the public’s continued strong demand for new movies and TV shows, companies are hiri...