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3 Things to look for in a Top Notch Director of Photography

A director of photography is a person responsible for running production crew on set, technically executing the shots and setting the overall vision. It is both a creative and very technical in nature position.

The most important aspect that the DP [ Director of Photography] should and must possess is the vision. The vision dictates what is going to be happening on set, how things will get handled, and when things will get done. Simply speaking a person without a good vision is just going to be running in circles. This is something that comes partially through experience and partially via a good gut feeling. The vision sets the direction, the overall pace of the shoot. The more clear the vision is, the faster it can be achieved obviously.

You can tell a good DP on set almost instantly. Qualities you look for are calm demeanor, an easygoingness, however confidence. It’s the way they walk, they way they talk, something about them. A good DP gets hired for their vision. However, vision is nothing without technical execution. As mentioned before, a DP is a very technical position. The person must be adept and an expert in lighting, staging, camera movements, delivering the story via shots. DP is the most technical person on set. DP runs all other departments, a good DP oversees all other departments but resorts to heads of other departments to make sure everything is running smoothly.

DP knows and understands the relationship between movement, feel of shots, camera angles, camera focal lengths and is able to troubleshoot quickly, without getting stressed out. A good DP tackles any situation and find a solution to literally any problem very swiftly. Which brings us to last but not least quality which is Adaptability and resourcefulness. I always look for a person who is able to work still within given resources and within a given timeline.

Lots of times we don’t have the luxury of time to figure it out, so we have to think on our feet. We need to get it done “somehow”. By utilizing certain principles, a DP is able to understand quickly what is needed in the moment and utilizing whatever is available do the best possible job to get things done. A good DP provides a high return on investment and can make the client look extremely good.


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