August 8, 2014


Becoming a cameraman (or camera operator) is an exciting career where you’ll blend creativity with technical knowledge to make something visually stunning. The road to working as a camera operator can be straightforward as long as you take the right steps. So, if you want to know how to become a cameraman, you came to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to walk through essential steps that all aspiring camera operators should take. Everyone’s path will be slightly different depending on your interests, goals, and opportunities, but no matter what, these tips will set you up for success.


Start Filming…Everything

If you want to be a cameraman, then it’s time to start filming! There’s no better way to practice the craft than doing it, right? Even if you don’t have the world’s best equipment, start shooting. Use whatever you have at your disposal and begin fine-tuning your skills. Practice lightning techniques, camera movements, and shooting with various lenses.

Don’t limit yourself to one style or genre. When you’re first starting out, it’s the time to take risks and be experimental. This will help you find your niche and hone various skills that you can showcase in your portfolio. Make sure to also sharpen your editing skills throughout the process; editing may not be required for some camera operator roles, but it’s a great skill to possess.

student training as a camera operator


Study Film Techniques

Video cameras have been around since the 19th century, so there are a lot of resources to study. Take the time to digest films and documentaries of all genres. Closely observe filming techniques that evoke certain emotions, from movements to the use of lighting. Lastly, Research your favorite films to see what equipment they used, like cameras and lenses, to achieve their aesthetics.

You can use the inspiration of others to begin shaping your own style. Having a large bag of tricks will also make you an invaluable resource for directors to utilize on the sets. The more knowledge you gain, the more desirable you’ll be. So, study your craft and become a master of it.


Enroll in a Video Production Program

If you want to know how to become a cameraman, don’t ignore the power of enrolling in a video production program. There is an endless number of film schools that can make your journey as easy as one-two-three. If you choose a reputable school, you’ll get hands-on training and be guided by industry professionals. Along the way, you’ll make connections with like-minded individuals, have access to networking events, and build connections within the industry.

A video production program will also expose you to the various aspects of filmmaking and give you experience with industry-standard equipment and software. By the time you complete the program, you’ll be ready to waltz into your first cameraman position.

Students at one of the top film schools in Florida.


Specialize Your Skillset

As you move along your journey as a camera operator, you’ll start to find a niche or specialization that calls to you. Maybe you love shooting documentaries, aerial cinematography, music videos, or commercials. Whatever it is, double down on the skillset to make yourself an expert in the field. The more specialized you become, the more sought-after you’ll be in that niche. You’ll also have a much more fulfilling career working on projects that you’re excited to be a part of.

If you’re not sure what you want to specialize in, that’s okay. What you need to do is explore. Work on as many different types of projects as you can. Eventually, you will find a field that you prefer over others. For some people, this process takes longer than others. No problem. That just means you’ll pick up more skills along the way.


Build a Portfolio

A strong, captivating portfolio is your ticket to becoming a professional cameraman. Take your best work that highlights what you’re capable of and organize it in a way that will wow employers. Your portfolio should be a montage of your versatility, showing all your technical skills, creativity, and innovation.

A great way to display your work is through a website, online portfolio, or social media apps. If you choose to create a website, it’s crucial that it looks as professional as your work. Make it clean and easy to navigate. Include various projects to showcase your mastery of different styles and techniques.


Look for Internships

Many employers want to see real-world experience on your resume. Well, an internship is a tried-and-true way to do that. Seek out opportunities at nearby studios or production companies. Not only will you build up your experience, but you’ll also have the chance to learn from industry experts and use professional equipment–that’s a win-win scenario.

You should also look at internships as a way to explore different fields; they are not supposed to get you rich. Instead, they’re opportunities to grow and develop as a cameraman. It’s not uncommon for internships to turn into full-time employment, so take them seriously and make the most out of them. Also, keep in mind that enrolling in a video production program will expose you to various potential internships.

student talking with career services counselor


Network, Network, Network

Networking is one of the most powerful ways to break into the industry. Think of it as a life hack if you want to know how to become a cameraman. Whenever there is a film-related event, attend it. Whether it’s a workshop or film festival, use them as opportunities to meet fellow camera operators and potential clients or employers.

Social media can be a major tool when it comes to networking. Platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn are a great place to find upcoming events. Additionally, when you make new connections, your social media accounts act like a portfolio. Potential employers will immediately see what you are capable of and have a way to stay in contact with you.


Invest in Equipment

Camera equipment is expensive–it’s just a reality of the industry. When you’re first starting out, you may not have the most high-end gear. But you should make a point to continuously add to and upgrade your equipment. Having professional gear opens up a world of freelancing opportunities since you won’t have to rely on anyone else for equipment.

Remember that a piece of equipment is only as good as the person using it. Learn how to make the most out of your gear as you slowly build up to more professional cameras and lenses. By the time you have the funds and expertise to justify expensive gear, you’ll be ready to maximize its potential.


Enroll at F.I.R.S.T. Institute

Wondering how to become a cameraman? F.I.R.S.T. Institute has all the answers for you! We offer a proven Video Production program that will give you the training and experience you need to land your first job as a camera operator. Our professors are industry veterans who will share their knowledge and expertise in the craft and assist you in kickstarting your career. You’ll end the ten-month program with an outstanding portfolio, hands-on experience with industry-standard equipment, and the confidence to kick down doors! Download our free brochure or schedule a tour with our Admissions department today!