I ran across this article from wiki answers and I’m posting it because in my opinion it perfectly illustrates a crystal clear, current snapshot of today’s modern “cinematographer”, camera person, shooter, lighting cameraman, director of photography, or whatever people who are lighting and shooting call themselves today.
“Incomes vary wildly based on the frequency of and type of work a cinematographer gets, as well as market and competition. Since the digital revolution, lowest salaries have dropped drastically as competition has risen exponentially. Clearly however the digital revolution and the explosion of film schools has shortened the learning curve and demystified some of the craft to the point that now there are far too many people calling themselves “cinematographer” to all be employed, even occasionally.”
What’s most interesting and the point I want to make is many would complain that the current scenario is all over the map. This would be true. However, where there is disruption there is also opportunity. There are no rules any longer so anyone can get out there and make a go of it and do whatever it takes to make it. Gone are the days where one would has to climb through the ranks of the union to become a DP (although this route still clearly has it’s benefits albeit, it takes just short of forever to get there).