Camera Operator


organised |

prefer working in a team |

work independently |

physical |

expressive |

variety in work tasks |

irregular hours |


intermediate |

mid level |

Business Types: 

broadcast |

film |

journalism |

What You'll Get?


Most camera operators are freelance although some are employed by a studio or production company.


8-12 hours per day, depending on the type of production and can involve a lot of evening and weekend work. 


£25,000 - £35,000 if salaried, and day rates vary from £200-£400. Sometimes there will be a set project fee which you might agree to work within.

What Would You Do?

As a camera operator you often work with a director to create a particular vision or product for a client. You need to ensure that everything being captured is of a high technical and aesthetic standard. In live TV the director will communicate with you directly as to what they want from your camera. In other circumstances you may just be given a brief and be expected to get the relevant shots using your own initiative. On some occasions there is no director and you would need to use your knowledge of shooting and editing to get suitable footage that will fulfil the requirements of the project.

Tasks and Responsibilities:

  • Talking with the director and/or producer about the style, logistics and practicalities of the particular project. Addressing any potential issues or problems and looking for solutions.

  • Booking the camera equipment from a rental house. Specialist equipment or additional crew members may be needed which you may need to arrange yourself. 

  • Assembling and testing the equipment at the start of a job to check that everything works as it should. If you have your own equipment, you should be proficient in the operation of it all and be knowledgeable in how to maintain it.

  • Assessing shooting locations for factors such as lighting and sound and using what you have to achieve the best possible outcome.

  • Giving the director all of the shots they need to tell the story or show what is going on. Technical factors such as focus and exposure must be constantly checked to ensure the quality of the footage. 

  • Lighting the set and attaching a microphone to interviewees could also be something you are required to do.

  • Overseeing the post production process and liaising with the editor when needed.

What You'll Need?

Skills and abilities

  • Good technical proficiency and ability to learn new equipment and software.

  • A keen eye for detail.

  • A driving licence is extremely advantageous. Sometimes you will be required to collect and transport kit and not every location is close to public transport.

  • A camera operator has to be very driven and determined to succeed. It is a very competitive job, with long unsociable hours and irregular working patterns. 

  • You will need to be considerate and kind to your crew. 

  • Successful camera operators are affable and meticulous.

Many camera operators have a degree in filmmaking or film production technology but this is not a requirement for any camera operator. Many employers look at the jobs you have already done and companies or people you have already worked with. They look for people who are enthusiastic and can bring a fresh eye to the project.

What Can You Achieve?

You can potentially work on high-end feature films, TV dramas, live sports, music festivals and lots more as a camera operator. You may work all over the world on these projects. Projects last from one day to many years!

Where Do These Jobs Exist?

Camera operators find work in film and video production companies and television studios or through directors and producers. Online job advertisements such as and can be used to find work, as can filmmaking groups on social media sites such as Facebook.

How To Apply?

Camera operatives often get projects through past clients, word-of-mouth or networking. For clients you haven’t worked with before, you’ll often need to submit a CV, covering letter and showreel. If you are selected you can expect a phone call or informal interview so the employer can see if you'd be a good match for their project.

Your showreel is a short video comprised of your best work. This can be anything from short films and passion projects, to TV, corporate and commercial work. This needs to be a good reflection of you as a camera operator and as an artist. 

What Else Can You Do?

The most common path is to work as a junior or an assistant, then progress up the ladder when you are ready. This allows you to learn the many attributes of the job and meet lots of contacts along the way.

There are also a number of courses you can take, plus a wealth of information online.

It is possible, though a bit more difficult, to pick up a camera and work your way to the top if you have the passion and determination. You can shoot video and photographs on your phone and edit using free software. Doing this frequently will help you to learn about lighting and composition and other skills needed to be a camera operator.

If you have previously worked as a camera trainee/assistant or in a camera rental house, this can be very helpful as it shows you already have a lot of technical proficiency and knowledge of the industry.

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