This chap seems to have many other titles:
- Director of Photography
- Lighting Cameraman
That multiplicity of names perhaps reflects the complex nature of a cameraman’s work. But his main responsibility is the picture. The DP is the person who, above all others, determines the texture of the visual images on screen.
You might think that a cameraman’s job is mainly pointing a camera. But it’s much, much more than that.
The Cinematographer must interpret what the screenwriter intended each scene to look like, modify that with what the director sees in his head, take into account the needs of wardrobe, make-up, sound, grips… a thousand and one considerations.
And some DPs do, indeed, point the camera themselves. It’s the most prominent part of being a cinematographer, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The DP has a lot of responsibilities. Whether he’s the same person as the director doing a little family holiday shoot or working on the latest Hollywood action movie, the problems are the same (though maybe of different magnitude!).
As this is only a ‘look at’ the cameraman’s art, I’m not going to go into huge amounts of detail. (Maybe some better qualified chap would like to do a small piece for this site, though). So I’ll consider the ‘camera pointing’ part of being half covered in the Visual Grammar section and worry about the two other main areas that concern the picture man: