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What to Look For in a Cinematographer

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Cinematographers have a talent for finding hidden beauty and storytelling elements in a scene. Cinematography can be termed as an art form that’s on the same lines as photography. However, you need to understand that developing the “cinematographer’s eye” takes more time than you’d expect. 

If you’re looking at hiring a freelancing or joining the industry as one, then make sure to consider these qualities:

Focus on the script

The most important pre-production step is writing the script, without that there is no movie. Without the script or screenplay, a cinematographer cannot even get through the first step of filmmaking. It holds the key to the entire process but most of us don’t really understand the significance it carries.

A good cinematographer needs to understand the script and what mode a director wants to show to the audience. So when hiring a cinematographer, make sure they have a copy of the script, and ask questions about specific scenes.  

Sound Quality >>> Image Quality

This may come as a surprise but believe us when we tell you, sound quality is more important than image quality.

Even if you have bad visuals, good content and good sound quality WILL keep viewers glued. This is why radio was a bigger success than silent films.

For example, Once (2007) was not shot using a great camera and the cinematography was off as well but the film is pretty great, the performances are intriguing, the music is gorgeous, and the sound quality is top-notch. All this made viewers forget about the below-average image quality.

With this pointer, all we want to tell you is that you should work with a cinematographer who values every aspect of the filmmaking process.

Coming Up With Ideas

Work with a cinematographer who doesn’t worry about going the extra mile to get new ideas. 

A good cinematographer is one who notices everything happening around him or her. Look around, there are a lot of ideas in your surroundings. You only need to look for inspiration and you will find it. 

It can come from news articles, music videos, TV shows, books, films, regular conversations, random thoughts from your past, etc. They are all ingredients that you will be collecting to come up with new ideas. 

As a cinematographer, you don’t have the luxury to skip work, go to the serenity of mountains, and think for ideas. You are expected to create big things using whatever you have at your disposal.

Also, do not hesitate in taking inspirations and using software to improve your work.

Be Flexible

This is by far the most important trait a DP or a cinematographer should possess. 

A cinematographer should never be rigid. You should be open to the world of possibilities. 

As a cinematographer, your job is to present someone else’s idea in the best possible manner. Of course, be creative and use your imagination, but be ready to hear what the other person has to say. 


You can read all about being a cinematographer but that will never be enough until you pick a camera and see what you’re good at. So, start learning today and be on your way towards being the best.

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