Keeping It Reel

Roll Call: How to Prepare for a Career in Cinematography

Cinematographers, they are the director’s right hand man (or woman). They take the director’s vision of a scene and bring it to life. They tell the story using camera movement and light manipulation, setting the visual mood.

So how does one start off a career in cinematography? Read on to find out!

Every Journey Begins with a Single Step…

If your journey to a career in cinematography starts here at Columbia College of Hollywood, we will help you build a solid foundation of knowledge and hands on experience. Our cinematography majors take core classes like:

  • Cinematography 1 and 2
  • 35mm Cinematography
  • Digital Studio Lighting
  • Camera Movement
  • Visual Production Design

You also take 2 elective classes that allow you to focus on specific areas of interest, anything from music video production to 3D cinematography.


At CCH, we are all about experience not, just theory. Our cinematographers have all the technical know-how when it comes to:

  • Working as a part of a camera crew
  • Shooting on location and in the studio
  • Both 16mm and 35mm cameras
  • Color grading and film processing
  • Using Jib Arms, Fisher Dollys and dolly tracks

All the skills needed to go out and start careers creating awesome cinematic works of art.

Breaking into the Film Industry

As with most careers, cinematographers start their careers at the bottom of the food chain and work their way up. While you are in school it is important to start building your portfolio and networking with other industry professionals. One of the best ways to do this is by getting out there and obtaining some real world experience. Do internships or work as an apprentice on commercials or documentaries or even on studio films as an assistant to a more experienced cinematographer. A career as a cinematographer doesn’t follow a linear path, you never know where your big break might come from.

Ready to start your journey to a cinematography career? One of the first steps is applying to film school. Download our Free Application Checklist to find out the what you can do to make the application process as easy as possible.

New Call-to-action

This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.

Columbia College Hollywood is excited to announce TWO new scholarships! Receive awards of up to $5,000 for the 2021 Summer Scholarship for Storytellers and up to $18,950 for the CCH Career Accelerator Scholarship.

Learn More