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Cinematography Blog

by SamBKim

Life as a Cinematographer

Agency: SamBKim

22 April, 2021

Life as a Cinematographer

Cinematographers go by many monikers: Cinematographer, Director of Photography, or at worst, cameraman.

Some would think that the cinematographer's role in a production is to aim the camera at the scene, adjust the lens and record what is in front of the camera. Enlightened producers and directors recognize that a great cinematographer is one that sees beyond the technical aspects of focusing light onto a recording surface and is infact the artist who recognizes spirit and emotions of a scene and captures that ephemeral moment to be reexperienced by a viewer forever.

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Never Turn Your Back On the Light

Light is everywhere, even when it is not there.

Light is everywhere...even the abscence of light is a characteristic of its influence on the eye. For the average person, light is a means of identification. For the cinematographer it is the channel with which the world connects to the viewers emotional heart. We have in our day to day lives simplified emotional connections. We may describe 'light is good', and 'dark is bad'.Common expressions speak of that influence: When she walked in, she lit up the room; his presence cast a dark foreboding. The director sets the stage and the actor interprets the character in the scene, but the cinematographer must capture the spirit and emotions of the moment on a stored medium.

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Cinematographer As The Image Thief

"Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal" -- Pablo Picasso.

For the cinematographer as an artist, a lesser DP just borrows the light from a scene. A great cinematographer knows he is stealing the words from the writer, the thoughts from the director and the emotions portrayed by the actor and with manipulation and slight of hand turning them into a completely different art form to be experienced by audiences far removed from the moment.

T. S. Eliot’s dictum: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.” Likewise, the cinematographer role is to translate the craft of others into a completely different art form.


Cinematographer as a Director of Photography.


Cinematographer as an Artist.


Cinematographer as an engineer of light.


Cinematographer as a project manager.


Cinemtographer as a poet of imagery.


Cinematographer as an interpretive agent.

Come and Share My Life as a Cinemotgrapher

This is not an easy career. Many aspire but few succeed. It is a life of an artist, entrapreneur, manager and craftsman.

In Hollywood there is an old adage: "The closer you are to the camera the more you get paid."

The Director of Photography (DP) is as close as anyone can get to the camera. His hands are literally on the lens and hence the value of what is captured are entirely in his grasp. Often, on lessor projects, the producer and director don't necessarily recognize the value of the role the DP plays in the final project outcome. He or she is often assigned the role of a camera technician and not embedded with the responsibility of translating the thoughts in the script and the imagery in the directors mind onto the image recording.

“Love is the answer, and you know that for sure. Love is a flower, you've got to let it grow.”

By John Lenon

I hope to keep you abreast of my march down this long career and share my profession with you. As a few wiser than myself have said in the past, it is not the miles that signify but the character of the road ahead.

Written by Sam B Kim

in Cinimatography

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