Director of Photography

DoP's and lighting cameramen/women can be found working across all genres of the TV industry; from soaps to factual to reality TV. Depending on the budget they will be working as part of the crew or taking on responsibilities for sound, lighting and grips.

What is a Director of Photography?

The Director of Photography, also know as DP or DoP heads up the Camera Department of a production. The DoP is in charge of the overall look of the production, and they work closely with the director and art designer to achieve it. It is a role that encompasses technical, practical and creative expertise. The DoP usually choose which cameras to shoot on, and the format - unless a certain preference has been stipulated by the broadcaster. There’s a plethora of cameras available these days with the majority of broadcast television shot on digital formats.  As the camera market is saturated DOPs are spoilt for choice, but they also must keep abreast of new technical developments as they could be working with a different type of camera from week to week.

Camera choices will have significant cost implications (including stock and post production considerations), which will involve negotiating with line producers and producers in order to work out what’s realistic within the budget available to the Camera Department. The DoP is often present from pre to post production and manages all aspects of filming from choosing equipment, attending technical recces and reviewing footage.   

Who works in the camera team?

The DOP sometimes camera operates on smaller productions, but if budget allows, the following crew are employed to support the DOP: Camera Operator, Focus Puller (also know as 1st Camera Assistant), Clapper Loader (also know as 2nd Camera Assistant), Camera Trainee, and more recently with tapeless formats - a Digital Imaging Technician (DIT), who is an on-set expert in digital cameras required to make adjustments to the multitude of variables available in the camera to manipulate the resulting image.

What is the role of the DoP on other productions

In factual TV genres, a DOP may be know as a Lighting Cameraperson and will probably be a one-man band juggling the lighting and camera operating requirements of a production. A Lighting Cameraperson on a small production may also be responsible for sound recording too. The biggest difference between the roles of a DOP and a Lighting Cameraperson is the size of the crew attached to the project. A DOP is employed to provide a more supervisory role on big budget, large scale productions (overseeing both camera and lighting departments), as well as influencing the visual identity of the production in conjunction with the Director. Lighting Camera men and women have a much more hands-on role on smaller productions - where the budget may only allow for one creative/technical crew member

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