How much do cinematographers make?
Well it depends…Breaking into the industry as a Cinematographer will take some time, skill, and the willingness on ones part, to work for very little compensation early on in their career. Pay scales for Cinematographers vary across the nation and depend on where one typically works and lives.
Entry-level Cinematographers with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn around $39,222 annually starting out. Cinematographer with 1-4 years of experience earn an average annual income of $48,858. Mid-career Cinematographers with 5-9 years of experience earn an average of $65,640. Experienced Cinematographer with 10-19 years of experience can earn an average salary around $70,000. While Cinematographers in their careers working (20 years or more), earn an average salary around $75,600.
Wages and costs of living across the nation will always vary however, according to self-reported statistics from Payscale, a cinematographer’s average salary income is $56,775 per year (average hourly wage $19.28) as of 2019. Per CareerExplorer, cinematographers in the 90th percentile earn an average of $106,547 ($51.22 hourly rate). Cinematographers in the 10th percentile make an annual average Director of Photography (DOP) salary of $28,745, based on an hourly rate of $13.82.
Employees with Cinematographer in their job title in San Francisco, California earn an average of 71.2% more than the national average. These job titles also find higher than average salaries in New York, New York (33.7% more) and Los Angeles, California (5.9% more). The lowest salaries for cinematographers can be found in Chicago, Illinois (31.5% less), Kansas City, Missouri (29.4% less) and Atlanta, Georgia (6.7% less).
As you can see, there are many variables that play a role when determining “How much do cinematographers make“. When factoring in cost of living, locations, benefits, and base salaries for cinematographers, the average hourly rate for a cinematographer can range from about $85 to $125 a hour. Cinematographers working in the industry normally have a standard 10 hour shoot day and even that will vary too.
In the end, Cinematographers are vital to the production of television shows and movies on all traditional media and streaming services. They are responsible for directing the camerawork and lighting behind the scenes of all most every video production developed. In simpler terms, the experienced cinematographer, also known as a director of photography (DOP), is the second set of eyes for the director, in helping determine what the vision should be for the movie production.
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