The role of a DOP
The director of photography is in charge of the image of a film from the framing of each shot to the colour balance, lighting and choice of lenses. Working closely with the director, the DOP interprets the script and creates a visual style for a movie including lighting tones, shot choices, angles, and much more.
Cinematography is both technical and creative. Professional DOPs must have a good command of maths to be able to measure and calculate f-stops and depth of field. Depending on the lighting of an interior or exterior certain lenses and filters need to be chosen and one must have their own creative style. When shooting on film, the right kind of film stock also affects the image of a film and it’s colour tone throughout.
For low budget shoots the DOP will tend to be the sole camera op for a short movie, and work with a digital workflow to create the style of a movie. Often a good choice of lights, mixed with a small lens package or a zoom lens only HD camera is the way to go. In low budget situations the DOP needs to find creative style with limited tools available. This then turns to camera positioning, choice of lenses, and framing to tell story. Visual storytelling through camera is a vital aspect of film production and both the director’s vision and the DOP’s creativity are needed to make this work.