It’s so easy to buy gear, but no one is working their way up anymore. They buy a camera and immediately market themselves as a cinematographer. I see a lot of rookie “cinematography” reels that consist of a lot of handheld natural light photography with a heavy and over dramatic grade applied. The problem is… the reason I see so much of that stuff is because ANYONE can do it. And if anyone can do it, why would a producer pay much money for something they can get from anyone? Why should they hire you if you’re only competing on price and there’s always someone cheaper? You’re only worth something if you can walk into a situation—with lights, without lights, interior, exterior, day, night—and know what to do to create consistently pretty images that serve the story. There’s always room for skill. Skill only comes with experience. You wouldn’t buy yourself a scalpel and call yourself a brain surgeon, so why would you buy a camera and call yourself a cinematographer?
~ Art Adams
You know…a friend sent me this thinking that I might find it interesting. He knows me well. I’ve always wondered how this is something that actually happens…you know…in real life. If you’re familiar with my work, thoughts and/or goals, you all know that I obsess over cinematography. I immerse myself into all that I can to learn…to try and fail…to try and succeed. I take classes, read, shoot, experiment, read some more, study some more, etc. In this sense – I refer to myself as a burgeoning cinematographer because I know damned well I haven’t earned that title yet. I wouldn’t dare. No one takes the time anymore to learn things, to master things, to immerse themselves in it. Art Adams is absolutely right in this quote. Just because you have a camera doesn’t really mean much. Cinematography is more than just pointing and shooting. You are enhancing the script visually – and hopefully you’re doing the story justice in the process. There is so much to know, and so much to learn. You need to always be a student in your craft. Take your time…do what feels right. Stop worrying about everyone else around you. What I see firsthand is that people are in such a rush to deliver, but don’t concern themselves with the quality as much. Bad idea. You are only as good as your last project or last role. Never stop.