Cinematographer salaries vary between 27.500 USD and 115.500 USD depending on experience, employers, and location. Follow our guide to see where you can get paid more !
A Cinematographer is…
The chief over the camera and light crews working on a film, television production or other live-action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image (source).
Or, as the famous American cinematographer Rachel Morrison says:
“The cinematographer’s basically translating the director’s vision into imagery.”
Other terms for the cinematographer is the director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP). Informally cinematographer or director of photography is called a “cameraman” though it is a different job from a camera operator.
The camera operator is responsible for physically operating the camera while cinematographer is the chief over the camera and light crews.
So if this job interests you, let’s look at the financial opportunities.
Cinematographer’s salary in the US
LinkedIn provides quite clear information on how much cinematographers in the US earn, i.e.:
- As a starting salary is $30,000 per year
- The median yearly salary $55,000
- And the highest salary reaches up to $115,000 per year
In Payscale we found more or less the same data:
- The lowest salary $30,000 per year
- The median yearly salary $53,000
- The highest salary reaches up to $113,000 per year
And here is some really good job offers which we found in Glassdoor:
- Red Antler - Brooklyn, NY (Industry - Advertising & Marketing) is looking for a cinematographer and offers $11-$16 per hour.
- and Thrillist - Collins, IA (Industry - Publishing) for a Director of photography offers $20-$31 per hour
- Patagonia Inc. - Ventura, CA (Industry - Sporting Goods Stores) for the same position - Director of photography offers more $21-$34 per hour
Cinematographer’s salary in the UK
We did the same search for the cinematographer’s salary in the UK and Payscale provided data on “cameraman’s salary”, but not for cinematographer’s salary. So as you can see “Cameraman” is used as another “Cinematographer” term.
The average salary in the UK is £ 29,926 per year, the highest salary reaches up to £ 54,000 per year.
In addition, we found a pretty nice proposal for a director of photography in Indeed: freelance director of photography required on an ongoing basis to work on high-end projects with an exciting and rapidly growing production company in central London. Contract - £500 a day.
Cinematographer’s salary in India
Payscale also provides data on cameraman’s salary in India.
As you see:
- As a starting salary is Rs. 155,000 per year
- The median yearly salary Rs. 355,931
- And the highest salary reaches up to Rs. 1,000,000 per year
Look at the proposal, which we found in LinkedIn. Tamada Media Pvt LtdChennai, Tamil Nadu (Industries - Consumer Services, Utilities, Information Services) is looking for a cinematographer and offers a salary Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month ($169-$211 per month).
- One more offer for a cinematographer we found in Naukri.com. T & A Solutions - Calicut an offshore software outsourcing company offers salary: - 4-5 Lakhs PA.
Factors that can affect cinematographers’ salary
As you see cinematographers, salary varies from country to country. Here we picked up some other main factors, which have an impact on payment:
Experience level. Employers usually look for a cinematographer with experience in video production, video editing, understanding of lighting techniques, and so on.
Education. Normally a bachelor’s degree in communications, television production, photography or related field is required.
Type of work (freelance cinematographer or employee). The income of freelance cinematographers depends on individual contracts and may vary.
Industry (movie production, TV) that you will work as a cinematographer.
Size and budget of each production. For example, cinematographers who work in movie production with large budgets can earn a lot.