Behind the camera


In the process of film making, be it a movie or a music video, capturing actors in action or recording the enacting of a script is the job of a cinematographer. S/He has to work in coordination with the director, as s/he has to bring out the vision of the director in each scene. In short, a cinematographer looks after the technical aspects of the camerawork to fulfil the aesthetic requirements of the director. S/He has to understand the technical aspects of filmmaking, such as how to use all equipment or how certain adjustments in angle or lighting transform the image.

Since s/he is the one who is responsible for the visualisation of the script, s/he in involved in all the three aspects of filming —pre-production, production and post-production.

Job profile

Cinematographer is the head of the camera, grip and lighting crew on a set, and for this reason s/he is often called director of photography. S/he has to supervise many people to create the necessary effect while sho-oting a scene. His/Her job is to oversee personnel managem-ent and logistical organisation.

Bidur Pandey, one of the most sought after cinematographers of Nepal said, “A cinematographer should think one step ahead of rest of the crew; he has to understand

the director’s idea, and should be able to portray things beyond imagination.”

A cinematographer’s job profile includes —

• Observing set or location and reviewing information relating to natural or artificial conditions to determine filming and lighting requirements.

• Selecting cameras, accesso-ries, equipment, and film stock.

• Instructing camera operators regarding camera set-up, angles, distances, movement, and other variables and signals cues for starting and stopping filming.

• Supervising the effects of lighting, measuring lighting levels, and coordinating necessary changes prior to filming.

The cinematographer typically selects the film stock, lens, filters, among various other things suitable for the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director.


Although there are both short-term and long-term courses for this profession, experience is something that is valued a lot. Being a profession that requires both technical expertise and aesthetic sense, it is the experience of handling the camera and the on-location work that makes a cinematographer learn the most.

A cinematographer may have all the required knowledge about the technical aspects of his/her work like exposure charts, focal length lenses, film stocks and using a light meter properly and may also be able to set up a shot very quickly, however, s/he will not be able to give the best output if s/he doesn’t have the talent and instinct to capture shots that are pleasing to the eye.

S/He should be creative and have an eye for detail that makes a scene connect with the audience. S/He should not only have the knowledge but should also know the tricks to use things like composition, lighting, framing, shadows and movement in the most effective way.

It is a combination of the technical knowledge and the gift or talent for “seeing” things in a way most people cannot that makes for a good cinematographer.

According to Pandey, the main challenge in Nepal is to “to bring out the best product with very limited resources compared to other countries”. But he said the new lot of professionals

are very promising and their work often surprises him.

He believes that those who want to get into the profession should have the patience to work under immense pressure and should also be able to convey new ideas.

Through his lens:

Bidur Pandey has done number of music videos and is one of the most renowned cinematographers today. The credit for the beautiful music video of the popular song Sa Karnali goes to this award winning cinematographer.

His latest work, the first movie by Quest Entertainment Kagbeni, is set for release soon.

Why did you choose this career?

Just to fulfil my dream of viewing the world through the lens.

What are your strengths as a professional?

I am always eager to work with new directors and editors. I can work under pressure and still give my 100 per cent.

What are your career goals?

To represent my country in the international arena through my camera work.

What according to you is the best part about being a cinematographer?

It’s always fun to travel and meet lot of new

people and especially when they like your

work, it gives you that extra energy to perform better in future.

What do you enjoy the most in your job?

I get to travel and

explore the world and

get to catch them in my camera and to shoot

under different challenging conditions.

What makes a good cinematographer?

Knowledge, learning habit, dedication, sharp mind, willing to take the extra step and ability to make quick and sharp decisions — these make for a good cinematographer.

A word of advice for young aspirants.

Just go and do whatever your heart desires,

and do something for

the nation. Make your parents proud in whatever you do.