Writen By Asher Gouldbourne


Hi, welcome to iloveshortfilms.com My name is Asher Gouldbourne.  Today we are going to look at the role of a DP or Director of Photography. In these articles we will be looking at how to inprove a wide range of skills as a cinema-photographer starting from the begining so if you have been at this for a while please be patient.   We will be providing tutorials for all levels, but for now we have to start at the beginning. The first question I plan to answer is:  What is the roles and responsibilities of the DP? Someone once explained it like this: The DP is the eyes of imagination itself.   And he was not wrong. The Director of Photography (DP) is directly responsible for the look and feel of the film and it is his job to peer in to the minds of the director and script writer and to breath light with shades of darkness, mood and feeling to what was once words on a page. The DP works closely with the film’s Director on setting the mood of the film. At the beginning, (pre production) the DP with the Director will work on the visualization of scenes that involves issues related to framing, camera angle, movement, lighting, and the technical requirements to translate a script and storyboard into images on film. But these are things we will cover at a later date in more detail, including what to expect when sitting down with a director for the first time. The DP also collaborates closely with the camera crew (Camera Operator, 1st and 2nd Assistant Camera, Grips and Camera Trainees). During filming, DPs also work closely with the Gaffer and their lighting team both are key in helping create the look of the film) and must also take an interest in the Production Design, Costume Designer, and the Hair and Make Up Department.

Typical day involves:

The DPs and their camera crews arriving early to prepare the equipment for the day’s work, when the actors are walking through their lines both Director and DP map out the exact movements of both actors and the cameras. It is also a good time to discuss any special camera moves or lighting requirements with the Camera Operator, Gaffer and Grip. Each shot is marked up for focus and framing by the 1st AC, and, while the actors finish make-up and costume, the DP oversees the lighting of the set for the first take. At the end of each shooting day, DPs prepare for the following day’s work. They also usually view the rushes with the Director. During post production, DPs are required to attend the digital grading of the film, which may involve up to three weeks of intensive work. If you are just starting out in the world of cinema photography then it is most likely that your role as The Director of Photography will often include most or all of the roles we outlined above: operating the camera, composing the image, adjusting focus, exposure, use of filters, responsible for  lighting  and when appropriate audio level settings if not done separately by a sound person even location scout. Key Skills include:

  • artistic vision;
  • knowledge of photography
  • creativity and precise attention to detail;
  • good colour vision;
  • ability to give and to accept direction;
  • excellent communication skills;
  • diplomacy and tact when working with cast and crew;
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
  • in-depth knowledge of lighting techniques.
  • technical knowledge of photo-chemical and the digital processes
  • an up-to-date knowledge of new lighting and camera equipment
  • ability to adapt ideas instantly
  • take decisions quickly
  • knowledge of film history


Next time on thorugh the camera #002 we will be looking at the rule of thirds


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