Camera Operator Job Description

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A camera operator records the visual images where their major focus is to get all the action in tape. The profession is quite flexible with the opportunity to work on a full-time basis, part-time and freelancing. One of the basic requirements of the career is to own personal equipment. A degree in film and broadcasting is mostly preferred by employers. The profession largely depends on the soft skills such as impressive visual abilities, creativity and an almost perfect eye-hand control. The paper provides the experiences of being a cameraman, what the industry entails as well as why this would be a good career choice.

A camera operator is a person charged with the task of recording imagery that amuses or informs spectators. They confine a wide array of matter for motion films and TV shows industry or television broadcasting (Millerson & Owens 2012). The job requires physicality because there are intense movements while carrying the required devices for the job. The job necessitates high concentration and productivity for many working hours.

Mostly, a camera operator chooses and presents exciting materials for an audience while working with the director to determine what has most appeal. They also converse the filming and expurgation procedures to be used to ensure that the creations are beyond the expected standards. The operator also deals with shooting and editing scenes founded on the director’s vision. The editing is very crucial as it ensures that the necessary material is kept while the rest is shed off, this gives the job an aspect of perfection.

The professionals also liaise with performers where they guide them on what they ought to do and not do during the shooting. These individuals need to be able to multi-task and have high precision lest they do a shoddy job and spoil the set (Owens, 2017).With all these tasks waiting for a camera operator, they need to have assistants to aid them in their daily routine. An assistant could be delegated some of the menial jobs that a camera operator can entrust them with. These may include setting up scenes, being responsible for the equipment in the sense of storing and maintaining them. They can also help the operator to determine and ensure that the camera stays in focus to allow for excellent shooting.

The workplace for a camera operator varies depending on the type of work that they have to undertake. Most electronic operators usually travel in their neighborhood, and this could call for them to pull an all-night coverage if the show or event is major (Millerson & Owens, 2012). Those who shoot films and movies have to stay on set as shooting movies can be really taxing and this might see them staying away from their homes for months up to years.

Cameramen at times get to work in risky situations such as in trying to uncover ills of a society or regime say drug dealing or terrorism. Therefore, the profession necessitates acts of braveness and perseverance. For a camera operator, their working hours are mostly full time as they are always booked up with many activities from main job and the part-time gigs (Owens, 2017).

For an individual to work this field, they ought to have artistic abilities to provide creative input in the area. They need to be patient as they might do a shooting of one set more than thrice to ensure that they got the part right. The job requires team-spirit because it entails working with a group of people such as journalists, models and celebrities. The engagement allows them to work amicably with others in the field and even learn a thing or two from them. They should also pay precise attention to detail thereby combine creative and technical skills (Millerson & Owens 2012). It is a field in which one needs to have relevant qualifications to work in. The technical skills required can only be learned and bettered through constant practice. A bachelor’s or associate’s degree in television or film production is necessary from a camera operator to ensure that they have the hands-on and classroom training.

The passion for a career in journalism for many individual begins at an early age. Therefore, most of the other skills are learnt by an individual in a trial and error basis. Based on the view expressed by many camera-operators, they like the profession because it provides an opportunity to work on many different projects be it sports, entertainment, wildlife, scenery, and even politics. Another area of consideration is that the industry is quite competitive; therefore individuals have to give their level best to be successful. Another major attraction for this profession is that opportunity to travel around the world and get to experience different regions, communities and emotions. The saying goes; “if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” A career may last for many years, and it would be very stressful doing something that does not fascinate you.

The interview

The paper covers an interview with a prominent figure in the film industry, a graduate of MTSU's video and film production program (Adam Mills). He is also the founder and manager of High TV in Nashville, Tennessee. Looking at his accomplishments its surprising how he had made it so fast. Mills revealed that while at school, he would still work in channel ten where he would work on the production of most shows. The achievement was because he not only had a degree with him as he was seeking employment but also had some experience. Most young people are ever complaining about inadequate jobs, the truth is that there is intense competition in the job-market and having creativity on the side makes you stand out.

Unfortunately, his job did not go as he planned and he ended up coming up with his HD video system in Tennessee. From his story, we can say that Adam was creative and perseverant as he did not let the death of his employer tie him down when he became jobless. During the interview he mentioned that “All because that guy died. I don’t think I ever would have; you know what? I'm gonna quit my job, take everything that I have, buy equipment and see how it works out. I don’t know that I ever would have done that except I kind of had to, I mean, why not?’

Mills details that starting his own company was not easy. He was living with two other people and splitting the rent three ways, and he had been thinking of getting a VariCam. He bought the first VariCam from Armada Constanza who was another alumnus from MTSU although people did not like dealing with them. He took the bold step of buying one VariCam at the expense of being bankrupt which is another valuable lesson that one can learn. The fear of going bankrupt did not stop him from following his dreams which bore fruits as the VariCam attracted many people and he eventually had four.  Tennessee had no VariCam, and this made his company stand out. 

He later went back to school to learn how to manage his money, and this also contributed to his success. Mills explained that one needs to stay up to date with the new technologies in this field. The surest way to do say is through paying attention as one may be oblivious and in the long run end up having to count losses. Throughout the interview one thing was certain, for one to make it in the field of technical directing; they had to start from the entry-level position.  Such a position would be to start on a live truck. Adam himself built his live truck in 2013 for concerts thus giving people interested in technical directing an extra chance of getting the working experience.

Adam asserts that through a touring video, one can learn a lot as every band usually goes on tour. However one should indulge in this touring while they are still young because of two reasons one of them being that they will need to have an experience when seeking jobs. The second reason would be that they are young and therefore have time to go for tours as they have no severe commitments and responsibilities.

Pros of the career

One of the advantages of being a cameraman is that they are close to events when they happen. These individuals are hired to capture live events for broadcast. A person in this field gets to view new and exciting activities. They are also involved in all range of activities such as sports, wildlife, court proceedings and celebrity interviews. Therefore, the career is fascinating based on the broad range of activities. Thus, a person in this type of job takes place in the action rather than just standing around (Millerson & Owens, 2012).

Another advantage linked with the profession is the aspect of autonomy, despite the fact that one may be employed as a full-time operator in a company, yet they are allowed to carry out other jobs during the weekends and holidays on a contractual basis (Millerson & Owens, 2012). Therefore, they can quickly schedule tasks based on their availability, and they also get to earn extra income. The profession, thus, provides an excellent nurturing ground where skills and talents are recognized and appreciated. The other aspect is that a camera operator can build a sufficient clientele base, which may mean that there are increased repeat hires and as such a sense of job security develops.

Cons of being a cameraman

One of the disadvantages is the long working hours for instance when filming live events. The other consideration is that people who take up the profession do not get to enjoy most of the weekends and holidays as these times are spent at work. An instance is that when you get hired to probably record a wedding that means that you would have to work even during the weekend period. The problem with the holidays is that many of the action events such as sports and national activities are scheduled on these periods (Owens, 2017).

The other disadvantage is that the job is very physical and the long-working hours worsen the situation. The individuals get to spend most of their times on their feet moving around, and they have to be very attentive to capture the essential moments (Owens, 2017). An example is that filming a game, for instance, would require about 4 hours because it requires shooting an event before it starts and then extending work even after the event is over. The camera arrangements are also intensive, and they need many actual preparation activities. The operators time is spent in lifting heavy equipment around prior, during and even after the events (Owens, 2017). The process also adds to the strain and stress associated with the profession.


Being a camera-operator is an exciting aspect because you get to experience moments at first hand. It is a good career especially for an individual who is somewhat physical, has higher levels of concentration and takes pride in being around the action. One of the critical requirements for the field would be a background in photography or engineering. The paper reveals that being in the profession requires commitment, resilience and a number of soft skills. It is a profession that is driven with interest and passion. However, it is an interesting career especially to people who are interested in art and who would like to make statements through images.


Millerson, G., & Owens, J. (2012). Television production. CRC Press.

Owens, J. (2017). Video production handbook. Focal Press.

August 01, 2023
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