What does a cameraman do

camera operator

The cameraman guides the camera and creates the picture in the production of feature films, documentaries, news reports for television or movies. He decides from which perspective the viewer will later observe the event and which images will be used to tell a story.


The cameraman always works in a team. For large productions, he coordinates with the director and tries to implement his ideas. In the case of small productions, he either follows the editor's specifications or decides himself on the recording and camera settings. How freely he can decide and work also depends on the respective production. In some cases he is given almost a free hand in terms of camera setting, perspective and camera work. In other cases he has to strictly adhere to the guidelines. Nevertheless, he has to be able to make flexible decisions and react to each assignment, for example if it turns out that a desired setting cannot be implemented at the location. Then it's time to improvise or creatively look for solutions. For example, by looking for a slightly modified variant with the actors or changing little things in the process. He must be familiar with zoom settings, camera pans, lighting conditions and apertures and be able to operate camera accessories, monitors and image mixers. And he also has to be familiar with different types of cameras. Because his place of work can vary and so can his equipment. Sometimes he shoots with a studio camera, sometimes he takes outdoor shots with a handheld camera. Further areas of application for the cameraman are live broadcasts or electronic reporting (EB). During live broadcasts, the cameraman is told by the director via headphones which setting to show.

He passes the filmed film material on to the cutter or the colorist. Automatically represented on the set and thus in the cameraman's working environment are: lighting technicians, sound engineers, sound engineers, operating technicians; in the case of feature films, continuity persons or digital image technicians. The video journalist carries out similar tasks in terms of content.


The cameraman needs patience, perseverance and a feeling for people, especially when a shot has to be repeated several times. For example, because the weather does not cooperate, the actor or presenter made a mistake or some other mishap happened that made the recording unusable. Of course, in this job a good and precise eye is required, an alert and creative eye for how things, actors and surroundings can be staged in an unusual way. Technical interest and skill are required to become familiar with the camera and understand how it works. Another important prerequisite is being able to work in a team.


Anyone who wants to stand behind the camera and capture image details can do training or further education to become a cameraman. This mostly multi-year school education leads to this profession. The duration and content of the training are not regulated nationwide. This depends on the particular film and television academy offering the course. But a degree is also conceivable, for example a bachelor's degree in film or television cameras at a university of applied sciences or an academy. Some cameramen have worked their way up over the years, started as cable carriers, then completed an internship and then rose to become cameramen. It is also not uncommon to start a professional career as a camera assistant.

Job opportunities:

Cameramen work in film and television. You can find employment with broadcasters or private broadcasters, or with small production companies. Freelance work as a cameraman is also conceivable.


Gerhard Schult / Axel Buchholz (ed.): TV journalism. A Manual for Education and Practice. With video journalism. Journalistic Practice Series, 8th edition Berlin (Econ) 2011.