A camera crew sets up for scenes to be filmed on the flight deck for the motion picture Stealth with the crew of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

A cinematographer is one photographing with a motion picture camera (the art and science of which is known as cinematography). The title is generally equivalent to director of photography (DP), used to designate a chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The term "cinematographer" has been a point of contention for some time now; some professionals insist that it only applies when the director of photography and camera operator are the same person, although this is far from being uniformly the case. To most, "cinematographer" and "director of photography" are interchangeable terms. Sometimes, however, the term "director of photography" can refer to the person who supervises the photography in a videotaped television production. For example, Larry Boelens's credit on the Mikhail Baryshnikov Nutcracker was "director of photography", although the production was shot on video.[1][2]



In the English system, the director of photography is called the lighting cameraperson, and has responsibilities that differ from those of the camera operator to the point that the lighting cameraperson is consulted, but has no final say over more purely camera operating-based visual elements such as framing. This system means that the director consults the lighting cameraperson for lighting and filtration and the operator for framing and lens choices. The lighting cameraperson is responsible for lighting the set, and the visual look of the film. The term DP or DOP is now widely used in the UK. "DOP" is used as an acronym to describe the director of photography, in Canada and equally in UK.

In the American system, however, the rest of the camera department is subordinate to the DP, who, along with and next to the director, has the final word on all decisions related to both lighting and framing.

The cinematographer selects the film stock, lens, filters, etc., to realize the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director. Relations between the cinematographer and director vary; in some instances the director will allow the cinematographer complete independence; in others, the director allows little to none, even going so far as to specify exact camera placement and lens selection. Such a level of involvement is not common once the director and cinematographer have become comfortable with each other, the director will typically convey to the cinematographer what is wanted from a scene visually, and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.

Many American cinematographers have gone on to become directors themselves.[examples needed]

Barry Sonnenfeld, originally the Coen brothers DP, has gone on to have success as a director.

Societies and trade organizations

An elite group of American cinematographers are members of the American Society of Cinematographers, or A.S.C.; this organization represents the upper echelon of talent and is dedicated to the advancement of cinematography. Membership is by invitation only. Equivalents in other countries include the Canadian Society of Cinematographers (C.S.C.), the British Society of Cinematographers (B.S.C.) and the Australian Cinematographers Society (A.C.S.) Members of these organizations are entitled to put designatory letters after their names (e.g., M. David Mullen, ASC).

There are other similar organizations in many countries, including Argentina, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and Iran.

In some countries, cinematography is a unionized field. In America, cinematographers (directors of photography, camera operators, camera assistants and still photographers) are represented by the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, a division of the labor union International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE. In Canada, they are represented by IATSE Locals 667 (Eastern Canada) and 669 (Western Canada).

Noted cinematographers

See Category:Cinematographers and Academy Award for Best Cinematography

See also


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cinematographer — Cin e*ma*tog ra*pher, n. 1. One who takes motion pictures with a movie camera, especially one expert in the art. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. one who exhibits motion pictures; an operator of a motion picture projector; a projectionist. [Webster 1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cinematographer — (n.) 1897, agent noun from cinematograph (see CINEMATOGRAPHY (Cf. cinematography)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • cinematographer — [sin΄ə mə täg′rə fər] n. the chief camera operator of a film crew, who is responsible for camera placement, lighting, etc …   English World dictionary

  • cinematographer — [[t]sɪ̱nɪmətɒ̱grəfə(r)[/t]] cinematographers N COUNT A cinematographer is a person who decides what filming techniques should be used during the shooting of a film …   English dictionary

  • cinematographer — (also cinematography)   specifically refers to the art and technique of film photography, the capture of images, and lighting effects, or to the person expert in and responsible for capturing or recording photographing images for a film, through… …   Glossary of cinematic terms

  • cinematographer — cinematography ► NOUN ▪ the art of photography and camerawork in film making. DERIVATIVES cinematographer noun cinematographic adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • cinematographer — noun Date: 1897 a specialist in cinematography …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cinematographer — /sin euh meuh tog reuh feuhr/, n. 1. a person whose profession is motion picture photography. 2. See director of photography. Also, esp. Brit., cinematographist. [1895 1900; CINEMATOGRAPH + ER1] * * * …   Universalium

  • cinematographer — noun a) The making of motion pictures. b) A photographer who operates a movie camera, or who oversees the operations of the cameras and lighting when making a film …   Wiktionary

  • cinematographer — cin·e·ma·togra·pher || ‚sɪnÉ™mÉ™ tÉ’grÉ™fÉ™ n. one who films movies, movie maker or photographer …   English contemporary dictionary

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