April 22, 2018

Watch: 5 Mistakes Noob Cinematographers Make

Learning which mistakes DPs make at the beginning of their careers is the first step in avoiding them when you get started on your own.

Creating masterful images isn't innate. Granted, most people can recognize a beautiful picture when they see one, and some can even compose a stunning shot without receiving any formal training, but for the most part, filmmakers and DPs go through years of stumbling through their craft, making tons of mistakes, and providing the rest of us lessons on what not to do when we pick up a camera.

In this video from Aputure, you'll get to learn about five of the most common mistakes new cinematographers make, from capturing nothing but bokeh-licious shots to not using negative fill to add a little style and intrigue to your shots. Check it out below:

There are so many mistakes first-time DPs are going to make, ranging from the technical to the creative. I mean, I and every new shooter I ever met failed to properly expose, provide enough lead/headroom, or create an efficient and functional workflow for charging batteries and dumping footage. However, the five mistakes mentioned in the video will not only give you a good foundation upon which to build the rest of your cinematographic education but will also tip you off to some issues that aren't often talked about. (Nobody told me about using negative fill until I was out of film school, so...)

Here are Aputure's 5 cinematography mistakes:

  • Shooting wide open all the time
  • Not knowing your camera's native ISO
  • Only using 3-point lighting
  • Not using negative fill
  • Not being a rulebreaker

What are some mistakes you made as a new cinematographer and how did you avoid them? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment


This is an interesting one.
Master the rules and break them, is the mantra to success... :)
"Oh, Hi Mark..!!"

April 23, 2018 at 10:22AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

I feel like it's worth mentioning that shooting wide open all the time doesn't make you an amateur...having the budget to light for f/8 is not always realistic. Not to be overly pedantic, because I like the point.

May 1, 2018 at 11:38PM, Edited May 1, 11:38PM

Nathan Tranbarger
Videographer, DP, Editor

Having started as a 2nd AC back when digital was the type of wrist watch you had, and everything was shot on film. As I progressed in my career, moving up to become a 1st AC, I have worked with many old school dop's as well as the new and upcoming fresh faces, a lot of whom shoot wide open. There's shooting wide open, and lighting for wide open, there's a big difference and I've seen a lot of the fresh faces get stitched when there's been a call for 33fps of 50fps shots, when they've only lit for wide open at 24fps. The old school dop's (having learnt from this earlier on in their career) tend to think about all the shot possibilities when planning their lighting.

May 2, 2018 at 2:34AM