Jon Collins is a freelance cinematographer specialising in TV, branded content, advertising and documentary filmmaking. For over a decade he's helped some of the biggest brands create video content to promote their products and services.
A freelance cinematographer, also known as a director of photography (DP), is an independent filmmaking professional who specialises in the visual aspects of film and video production. These professionals handle all aspects of creating the visuals for a motion picture from operation and setup of the camera to deciding shot composition and lighting. Freelance cinematographers are usually hired on a project-by-project basis or may be retained for extended periods to work on multiple projects.
A freelance cinematographer’s job is to help set the mood, look and feel of a film or video. This can be achieved through careful selection of framing, angles and lens choices to match the desired emotion of a scene. Cinematographers also select lighting setups and camera movements that best convey a scene or story. Other tasks include work with the art director and production designer on the overall visual look of the film as well as collaborating with audio technicians in order to find proper balance between sound design and imagery.
A cinematographer is in charge of capturing the imagery needed for a film. Cinematographers usually work with digital cameras and acquire raw footage from multiple takes in order to find the desired shot. Once a scene is shot, cinematographers will usually need to review, log and make sure that all shots fit with each other. Additionally, a cinematographer may be called upon to digitally manipulate footage or colour correct in order to achieve a more cohesive look for the finished film.
Freelance cinematographers must have a strong technical foundation in order to be successful. Cinematographers should be familiar with the various video formats, codecs and software needed to capture and edit video. They should also possess good camera know-how, including how to operate different types of cameras, lighting setups, sound recording and other important aspects of filmmaking. Furthermore, it’s beneficial that freelance cinematographers quickly adapt experience with new technologies as the field rapidly changes on an annual basis.
As a cinematographer, you need various cameras, lenses and lights to do you job. For me I have a selection of high end video cameras capable of shooting full 4K. I have a selection of lenses designed to capture detail and I have a large variety of lights to ensure that I can cinematically capture a story. In terms of grip, the equipment used to hold and move a camera, I have sliders, dollies, EasyRigs and gimbals all which have their own place in a highend video production.