What is the difference between a cinematographer and a director?

The film industry has really evolved over the past few decades. Everything has become so realistic. From the start till the end, the cinematic experience has improved to such an extent that everything seems like it is happening right in front of your eyes, for real. This is primarily due to the advancements in technology as well as the introduction of new equipment and cinematic techniques that were perhaps missing or not yet discovered in the last few decades.

For a film to be completed, an entire team of dedicated professionals is given proper well-defined roles and tasks that have to be fulfilled in the desired periods. If one of the roles is not properly fulfilled or well managed, a film can simply not be successful. Typically, whilst shooting a film, the entire team consists of different members that belong to different departments. As is the case usually, we have different members from the acting department, the makeup department, the costume department, the cinematography department, and the department that deals with the production and direction of the entire film.

Here a detailed discussion with regards to the director and the cinematographer will be done whilst highlighting some of the key differences between the two.


A cinematographer is also known as the director of photography or the DOP. This is the person who is mainly in charge of operating the camera and also directs the other assistants to help him when it comes to managing the equipment and the lighting etc. The cinematographer or the director of photography as it is commonly known as is responsible for watching the monitor and also directs the camera operators. People mostly think that the cinematographer is the person who is directly handling the camera however that is not true at all. The camera crew comes under the supervision of the director of photography as he/she watches the monitor and makes sure that every shot is perfect and can be executed without any issue or problems. The parts of the movie that involve camera movement, shots of the characters from different directions as well as what type of lighting is to be applied to which scenario, is directed directly by the cinematographer. In short, the cinematographer is the head of the camera and the lighting crew.


This is perhaps one of the most important persons in the entire process of film making. The director in film making is responsible for supervising the entire operations from the acting to the camera to the lights to the script etc. The director is the one who is, directly and indirectly, responsible for the success of a film. One of the main tasks of the director is to interpret the script and transform it into an entire movie. How the director changes the script or plays with some of the different elements involved totally depends on how the director sees the end product. In short, the cinematographer also comes under the director as the director is the one who is heading the entire process.