Inside Camera Operator Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Experience Over Knowledge...
I was most surprised by how experience is more valued than knowledge or ability." (Camera Operator; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Foreign Language at University Of Arizona in Arizona; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

"Being A Jack Of All Trades Is A Good Thing In This Line Of Work...
How wages have gotten lower and jobs more scarce as technology has advanced. Everyone is a camera operator, photographer, or video editor. You have to wear many hats to stay busy or even employed in freelance." (Camera Operator/Photographer/Video Editor; 2013)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Mass Communication at McNeese State University in Louisiana; completed Bachelor degree in 2002

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Commercial Camera Assistant: "The best part about being a 1st Camera Assistant is knowing that you'll never do the same thing twice. I've been across the country and across the world on numerous commercials and films and I was paid while doing it! I've had hundreds of opportunities to see places I would otherwise never see, meet people I would otherwise never meet, and experience things I never imagined I'd experience when growing up and even when I was going to school. Success in my business all depends on your own motivation and willingness to succeed. The worst part about my particular job can be the hours. Some times projects just have to get finished. You can't just throw in the towel on a long night and say you'll finish tomorrow because in most cases there can't be a tomorrow. It's a business that centers around meticulous schedules and one-time events. So if you don't get a particular project done now, it most likely never get done. So I've been known to work for 20 hours or more straight on long jobs to make sure the project is completed successfully." (2011)

Career Background

Camera Operator

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Work To Make Contacts...
The best thing you can do in the beginning is work anywhere you can. I started in high school running the camera for my parents' church. I got more jobs from the contacts I made at that job than I did from anything else." (Camera Operator; 2013)

"Stick To Mainstream And Avoid Adult Video...
Avoid working in adult media no matter what. You will get black-listed by mainstream media companies if they find out you worked in adult related video. This is unfortunate as paying work is paying work for video production and post-production, but you'll likely regret it later." (Camera Operator/Photographer/Video Editor; 2013)

"Stay Focused On The Career You Want...
The best piece of advice I can give is to know exactly what you want to do, and make sure nothing stops you from achieving that goal. This business centers around being in the right place at the right time, but if you are not well enough prepared or ready when that opportunity finds you, you may never get that same chance again. So it's always important to be constantly striving towards your goal so when the opportunity comes around, you are there and ready to take it on full force. The second piece of advice I can give is that you don't necessarily need to go to film school to get a job in the film business. Plenty of people with the right motivation (and the right luck to meet the right people) went straight into working in the film business and were much better off and further along in their careers than those who went to film school. If you think you are confident and motivated and already know what you want in this business, just go for it. If you're a little shy or unsure of exactly what you want to do, or what you need to be doing in order to obtain your goal, film school is a good idea. And remember, there are lots of great graduate film programs all across the country. If you have another interest, pursue that first, and when you are ready, go find a graduate film degree. You'll be a lot more well-rounded, and have a lot more to say than if you just went to film school straight away. And finally, network. Networking--keeping in touch with people you know, and constantly meeting new people is clutch in the film business. You can't give yourself work, so it becomes extremely important to always be meeting new potential clients, and making sure that you stay in contact with current and past clients. You never know from who or from where that big break may come." (Commercial Camera Assistant; 2011)