Hire a Director of Photography (DOP)

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What is a Director of Photography (DoP)?

The director of photography collaborates with the film director and is in charge of the visual aspects of the production. Their primary responsibilities include deciding on a film's visual style, lighting and composition, and camera angles. They are also known as Cinematographer (especially when the DoP operates the camera), DoP and DP.

What is the difference between a Director of Photography and a Cinematographer?

The two job titles are interchangeable in most real-world scenarios. Simply defined, this individual is in charge of the film's visual style, or 'look.' They report directly to the director and are responsible for a significant number of people. They are in charge of the camera department, the gaffer (who is in charge of the lighting department), and the grips (responsible for moving the camera on dollies, cranes, rigs, and gibs etc.).

While their work is most visible during the shoot, it actually begins in pre-production, when they collaborate with the director to plan the look, hire their crew, and manage equipment decisions. They are frequently included in the grade after the shoot is completed (the post-production process, which tweaks the look and colour of the final film).

So, why do we have both terms, you might wonder? The historical explanation for this is that numerous national cinema industries developed independently, resulting in distinct terminology for comparable positions developing. The modern reason is that some persons who do the job prefer to be referred to as cinematographers, while others prefer to be referred to as directors of photography. It's primarily a matter of fashion and convention.

What is the difference between a Director and a Director of Photography?

The cinematographer's tasks can sometimes be misconstrued with the director's responsibilities by aspiring filmmakers. This is obvious because the two roles overlap in many areas. Many filmmakers have a thorough command of cinematography.

The primary difference is that, while both the director and the DoP have a lot of say in how the film looks, it is up to the DoP to make it happen. It is their responsibility to ensure that the intended aesthetic is attained. When approaching a scenario, for example, the two will collaborate to choose how it should seem. This will most likely be from a more theoretical and broad perspective. The DoP's responsibility then becomes to design the lighting setup and direct the lighting crew to achieve the desired effect.

This allows the director to focus on the performers and other department heads rather than the technical aspects of lighting and capturing a scene. Another difference is that the cinematographer will not be directing actors.

What does a Director of Photography do?

The photographic heart of the production is in the hands of directors of photography.

They read the screenplay and consult with the director about the film's appearance and mood. They then look into how to achieve the style through lighting, framing, and camera movement, as well as what equipment and crew they'll require.

DoPs and their camera teams arrive early each day of filming to set up and rehearse. Blocking is done by the DoPs in collaboration with the director (decide the exact movements of both actors and camera). They talk to the camera operator, gaffer grip, about any specific camera moves or lighting requirements. The focus puller marks each shot for focus and framing, while the DoP monitors the set’s lighting for the first take.

DoPs are responsible for ensuring that every photo is useable and flagging those that aren't. They work closely with the colourist in post-production and view the rushes (raw material) with the director. They also shoot on smaller productions.


This is usually when the DOP is brought onto a film. During this time, they will collaborate closely with the director on the visual language, or 'look,' of the film. This will entail deconstructing the script from a creative aspect and determining which camera lenses and lighting techniques are most suited to the plot. They'll also talk about how they handle camera movement, scene coverage (what shots are needed to piece together a scene in the edit), and constructing shot lists and storyboards to help them realise their vision.

The DOP must take into account several technical, logistical, and economic concerns. These are some of them:
  • Performing camera, lighting, and lens tests to ensure that the desired look is achieved
  • Contributing to the filming timeline in terms of camera and lighting setup times.
  • Heads of the grip and electric departments, as well as the camera department, are being hired.


Just because the movie is over doesn't imply the cinematographer's work is done. It's time for the cinematographer to come in and oversee one of the final tasks after the director has spent months supervising the editing, sound design, and scoring of the picture.

Colour Grading

The DoP and director collaborate with a colourist to put the finishing touches on the visual effects. Almost every aspect of an image can now be altered, including exposure, contrast, sharpness, and colour balance. Even specific frame elements can be fine-tuned to perfection. The director and cinematographer will oversee this to ensure that the final image matches the original vision.

Director of Photography Responsibilities

The DoP is the director's right-hand man or woman, but the two positions are not interchangeable. They work in a range of media, including music videos, advertising, and films. They must be skilled technicians as well as capable of managing vast groups of people. Most importantly, they must be extremely creative and capable of collaborating with the director to portray the tale best visually.

You'll be looking for people who are visually imaginative and have experience with camera and lighting equipment. Among other things, the director of photography is in charge of ordering and testing camera and lighting equipment, overseeing a camera and lighting crew, and editing the visual components of a film in post-production.

Working with a film director, photography directors can help define narrative components through visual style.

Director of Photography Key Responsibilities:

  • Developing a film's visual style.
  • Determining lighting requirements on set.
  • Deciding on the best camera angles and frames for scenes.
  • Ordering and testing lighting and camera equipment.
  • Supervising a camera crew and directing camera movement.
  • Selecting the appropriate film stock.
  • Determining camera aperture settings.
  • Controlling natural or artificial lighting conditions.
  • Liaising with electricians to ensure adequate electrical supply.
  • Determining elements such as filters, shutter angles, focus, depth of field and camera distance.
  • Editing visual elements in post-production.

Who does a Director of Photography work with?

The photographic heart of the production is the responsibility of the director of photography. They read the screenplay and consult with the director about the film's appearance and mood. On lower-budget projects, the DOP may also serve as the camera operator.

While the Director of Photography is the second most important person on any film after the Director of Photography, the director of photography (DP) is an artist who creates the visuals that the filmmaker requires to tell the tale. Everything the DP does is in service of the director's vision and the story. They also supervise the camera department, electrics, grips, and set decorators on set.

Some of the Crew Members a DOP collaborates with:

Camera operator

Camera operators capture the shots. They double-check that the cameras and rigs are ready to go. They manage the camera and pay attention to the picture composition while filming while listening to the director and director of photography. It's a senior position, and it's a big step up from focus puller. Many camera operators will acquire additional talents such as Steadicam, airborne, or underwater experience to increase their employability.

Steadicam operator

A Steadicam is a camera stabilisation technology that keeps the camera moving smoothly no matter how fast the operator moves or how uneven the ground is. Steadicam operators are in charge of setting up the Steadicam, balancing the camera on it, and ensuring that the shots are working correctly. Many of the people working there are camera operators who have received specialised training. Because the Steadicams are so heavy, it's a physically difficult job.

Script supervisor

Script supervisors stand beside the cameras throughout the filming of a film or television drama to ensure that no dialogue is missed.

First assistant camera or focus puller

Focus pullers ensure that all of the photos are sharp. Cameras are set up, lenses are tested, and distances are calculated. They're dependable and accurate since reshooting is costly if the footage isn't as sharp as it should be. They are aware of potential focus issues and alert the director of photography. These can be found in movies and television dramas.

Second assistant camera or clapper loader

Clapper loaders assist the camera department by setting up and maintaining equipment and controlling tape and file stock. They're in charge of keeping track of each take and slating it. They’ll collaborate with the script supervisor to ensure the continuity notes, camera logs, and other documentation are in place before sending it to the editor.

What's a director of photography good at?

having a good eye for composition, know how to tell a story with a shot, grasp camera and lighting methods, and know-how to manipulate emotions with them.
Technical camera knowledge: possess a thorough understanding of all motion picture equipment, including cameras, lenses, monitors, and lights. Understanding the post-production processes and having a good eye for colour in the editing process are both essential skills.
Making decisions: this requires rapid thinking, typically under duress.
Organisation: plan, know how to do things and how long it will take, get the right kit and crew, manage the budget, think about logistical and artistic considerations simultaneously.
Communication: ensure everyone on the crew understands what's expected of them, collaborate closely with the grips and gaffer, lead the team, and handle problems in high-stress situations.

Director of Photography Requirements:

  • Degree in film, art or photography advantageous.
  • A reel of visual work.
  • Creative visual thinking.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Good organisational skills.
  • Good technical camera operating skills.

Why Hire a DOP?

Unless you've been schooled in cinematography and have shot many low-budget short films, attempting to do it all yourself usually results in an amateur product. Hiring a professional DOP will drastically increase the quality of your film. This means you could combine your vision with their cinematography talents to create the picture you desire. They will also be able to assist you in achieving the desired visual appearance for the image.

Pros of hiring a DOP:

1. You get great shots and coverage for your edit.
2. The Film looks much better and has a professional sheen.
3. You can find a collaborator in the DOP you choose to stay with you on many future films.
4. It is much less stressful.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Director of Photography?

A Freelance Director of Photography rate varies depending on the type of video production, location, and individual needs of the project.

The overall cost of DOP rates varies according to the crew's level of experience, the length of the shoot, and the necessary level of creativity. A competent DOP can make a world of difference in the final results of your film, whether you're recording a simple employee training video or capturing the distinctive features of your business.

Rate for Director of Photography

The DOP is in charge of several important activities that come together to create a visually distinct film. They begin pre-production and work on the picture till it is finished. The Director of Photography’s charge will vary depending on their experience and ability to create a visual signature for your project. DOPs on the Sab Network charges are in line with BECTU rates and APA for commercial projects.

Why Choose The Sab Network to hire your Director of Photography?

If you're searching for an award-winning team that has proven to be loyal, trustworthy, and competent, the Sab Network is the place to go. The Sab Network is a referral-only network of industry specialists who can help you with all of your production requirements.

Customers don't have to sift through CVs looking for it because they're already trustworthy, experienced, and highly talented. We understand how tough it is to find qualified freelancers who can meet our clients' expectations. Our goal is to help you achieve your objectives! 

Sab Network DOPs have won many awards for their excellent work. Their clients are some of the best Broadcasters, Productions Companies and Corporations throughout the world. 

If you have any questions about how The Sab Network operates or would like to discuss any aspect of employing freelancers, please contact us.