What does a Director of Photography do? 

Lead Sheep Team Filming in Stillwater, MN

Lead Sheep Productions at the 2022 World Sculpting Championship in Stillwater, MN

In the field of video production the director of photography does a variety of things from envisioning the framing in the shot to the movement to the camera work. Sometimes they are responsible for choosing how the shot in the camera looks but then you have an entire camera crew to actually do the setup and execution of the shot. At that point the director of photography (more commonly known as the DP). 

With Lead Sheep Productions we are a small crew, usually just two of us. Amanda is the producer. It is her job to control and direct the video content and lead the conversation/interview. She ultimately makes the decisions and approves of the camera shot and framing, but the director of photography – Danie (me) – is in charge of the gear set up and how the shot looks. 

For Lead Sheep video shoots, I set up the gear and start to set up the ‘set’. Any location we are shooting becomes the ‘set’. I start with taking a few photographs of the space to make sure at the end, everything is back to where we found it. Then we pick a place for the subject or client to sit, along with which chair they will be sitting in. We never pick a chair that swivels or moves because it is usually too hard for the person in front of the camera to sit still. 

After we find a good chair that will be both comfortable and look good on camera we place it in the best lighting. Lighting is key to creating a beautiful shot along with helping the viewer stay focused on the subject and not on the space. I set up the two cameras and make sure that they both look visually pleasing. I love to arrange the scene to have tiny pops of color, for example plants, in the background. 

Once the visual is set up with lights and camera, Amanda will approve of the shot/scene. We make sure the client is comfortable and put a microphone on them – we promise it’s painless. We do a quick sound check, final camera check and it’s time to record! Lights, camera, audio and ACTION! 

We hope you enjoyed learning more about our process and roles here at Lead Sheep Productions. We would love to hear from you! What other explanations, definitions or questions would be interesting for you to read about?  Let us know!

Here’s a few more film and production terms:

Slate: [noun] a board showing the identifying details of a take of a motion picture, which is held in front of the camera at its beginning and end. (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

For us it is the board that says the name of the project, who’s project it is, date, interior or exterior, day or night filming and which take we are on.

Take: [noun]  a scene or sequence of sound or vision photographed or recorded continuously at one time. (Definitions from Oxford Languages)

A take is the recording from start to stop, that would be take 1. The second recording is take 2 and so on. We will often split the interview topics between takes.