Video Production Roles: What is a Director of Photography (DP)?

Director of photography showing sample shots to crew

July 23, 2022

The director of photography (DP) is one of the most important people on a set. They bring about the director’s vision through effortless cinematography. If you want a professional-looking video, then you need to hire a quality director of photography.

Donny Thomas is a freelance DP at JB Media Productions in Pittsburgh PA and many other agencies and production companies across the country. He has 13 years of experience as a director of photography and has worked on a variety of projects all over the United States.

Want to learn more about Donny and the role of the director of photography? Continue reading.

If you’re looking for a quality production company based in Pennsylvania, choose JB Media Productions. Our highly experienced crew know just how to bring your vision to life. Visit our services page to learn more, give us a call at  (412) 719-7182 or contact us online. 

What is the Director of Photography?

The director of photography is the creative and technical mind behind the moving images of a video. The DP is in charge of lensing, composition and lighting. With direction from the director or agency, the director of photography will determine the look and feel of the video.

According to Lemon Light, consumers enjoy watching videos that have a clear storyline and are authentic. This is what a director of photography does: captures the story using moving images in a way that is authentic and unique to the brand or group.

The DP knows what each shot is going to be and how to set up and achieve each shot. Hiring a director of photography will ensure the shoot stays on track and the final product is perfect. Donny explains:

“A good director of photography is going to know what does and doesn’t work.”

As a director of photography, Donny has lots of experience working with a variety of different agencies:

  • Sports teams
  • Celebrities, high profile individuals and athletes
  • Companies

In working with these different groups, Donny has created commercials, documentary style videos and other videos. Donny’s goal is to make sure the finished product looks like what the director envisioned.

Director of Photography and Pre-Production

Knowing how to prepare for a professional video shoot is key and the director of photography is essential in the pre-production process. The DP works closely with the agency or director to help create the vision of what the product is going to look like. This includes creating a storyboard, choosing how it looks and determining the shots.

Additionally, the DP will communicate with the production crew so that everyone is one the same page. It’s also important that the director of photography is highly involved in the pre-production process so that they can gather an appropriate equipment list. It’s important that other crew members, such as key grips and gaffers, know exactly what equipment is necessary to bring and set up.

Along with other crew members, the director of photography can provide a close estimate to how long a production will take. This results in a more accurate production schedule that will keep things on track and reduce the risk of going over budget.

Difference Between a Director of Photography and a Videographer

Sometimes there’s an assumption that a director of photography and a videographer do the same thing. While their jobs are similar, the main difference is in the final product.

A videographer tends to document an event or merely records a shoot. Videographers typically do not work with a crew, do not use a variety of complex equipment and are limited as to what kinds of shots they can get. Here’s how Donny describes the difference:

“Shooting something and documenting an event is different from creating something from the ground up. Taking it from the script to the final cut and making it work – that requires a whole other skill set.”

A director of photography is involved from beginning to end in the creative process. They know how to use light and different shots to enhance the final vision. A director of photography knows how to take a production to the next level.

What to Look For in a Director of Photography

When looking for a director of photography for your video production needs, the most important thing is to find someone who can capture the right style. Some DPs focus more on action shots, such as with sports videos, while others may focus on brand videos that showcase a specific product.

Donny likes to bring a more narrative, cinematic style to his work. His style sets his client’s videos apart from their competitors because of his style. Donny says of his work:

“I want to make it look like a cinematic movie. Even if it’s a corporate, commercial production.”

Donny’s unique cinematographic style captures the attention of viewers. According to Zenith Media, the average person watches about 100 minutes of video per day. Companies want to make sure that people are spending at least a few of those 100 minutes watching their videos. This is why it’s so important to find a director of photography that best matches the style you want your video to have.

In addition to their work, you should look for a DP who is cooperative, friendly and has the equipment and crew that fits the production size. Keeping these things in mind will ensure that your director of photography is perfect for your needs.

Hiring a Production Company

Video is one of the most powerful forms of media today. With a knowledgeable production crew, videos can inspire and persuade. Hiring the right production company is key to making this a reality.

At JB Media Productions, we hire crew members that are passionate about their jobs. Here is what Donny has to say about being a director of photography:

“It’s been a lot of fun living my dream of working on set and creating. No project is ever the same but I look forward to working with new clients, new talent and making the best art that I can.”

It’s team members like Donny that make JB Media Productions a great company to work with. Interested in filming a video with our team? Give us a call at  (412) 719-7182 or contact us online.