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The Role of a Commercial Director of Photography

Updated: May 12

A frequently asked question from people outside as well as inside the professional production

community? What exactly are my duties as a commercial cinematographer, Director of Photography (DP).

As a commercial cinematographer, my main responsibility is to capture high-quality visual

content that meets the client's requirements and vision. My role for a commercial shoot

typically involves the following:

1. Pre-production planning: Before the shoot day, you'll work closely with the director and production team to plan out the shots, camera angles, lighting, and other technical aspects of the shoot. This includes scouting locations, creating storyboards, and selecting the appropriate equipment.

2. Setting up equipment: On the day of the shoot, you'll be responsible for your camera departments AC’s (assistant camera) setting up the camera, your chief lighting technician (gaffer) and key grip and their crew to handle your lighting, and other equipment needed to capture the footage. This may involve adjusting camera settings, setting up lighting rigs, and arranging props and other set elements.

3. Directing the camera crew: If you have a camera crew working with you, you'll be responsible for directing them and ensuring they're capturing the footage you need. This includes monitoring camera angles, checking focus, and making adjustments as needed.

4. Capturing footage: As the cinematographer, you'll be responsible for capturing the visual content needed for the commercial. This includes framing shots, adjusting camera settings, and working with the director to ensure the footage meets the client's expectations.

5. Problem-solving: Shoot days can be unpredictable, and as the cinematographer, you'll need to be able to think on your feet and troubleshoot any issues that arise. This may involve

adjusting lighting or camera settings, repositioning the camera, or finding creative solutions to

unexpected problems.

6. Collaborating with the director: You'll work closely with the director throughout the shoot day to ensure that the footage meets their vision and the client's requirements. This may

involve brainstorming ideas, making adjustments on the fly, and working together to problem-


7. Ensuring safety: Safety should always be a top priority on a shoot day, and as the

cinematographer, you'll need to ensure that everyone on set is following safety protocols. This

includes making sure that equipment is properly secured, that crew members are wearing

appropriate safety gear, and that everyone is aware of any potential hazards on set.

These are just the basics of what is expected of a commercial cinematographer. There will

always be lots of curveballs and unexpected things to navigate but there is nothing else like it in my experience, and every day I get to do what I do I am fortunate.


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