Cinematography vs. Videography

Something that a ton of people don’t understand is that videography isn’t the only form of video work. So, let’s talk about video for a second and what I mean when I say cinematography is not videography.


A word not known to many people, cinematography, is one that can mean the world to someone else. Another name for a cinematographer is a director of photography. It is typically a position in films - most popular with ones that have a high level of delegation. The by-the-book definition of cinematography is “the art of making motion pictures” while videography’s definition is “the process or art of making video films”.

They sound the same right?! By definition, these two have little distinction to an uninformed eye, but there is a difference. The contrast in connotation in the professional world is typically very distinct. One is high-end. The other is something anyone can do at a given moment.


The main differences between videography and cinematography are TIME, QUALITY, & LIGHTING.

Videography is something anyone can do. It’s the art of making a video. That means anything from recording a family moment on your phone to recording an concert or wedding to recording video for an ad that isn’t lit in a specific way for a specific reason.

Cinematography takes time. It requires pre-production, setting things up, and thinking about how the light on a face or the angle of a shot among other things will influence the viewer’s experience while viewing a film. Cinematography creates video with a particular care for making the final product the best it can possibly be. That is the reason the definition uses the words “motion picture”. Films are typically where that cinematography is used - though it can be in places like well-planned commercials.

With quality film equipment becoming more and more affordable (it’s still not cheap), the distinction is getting harder for most people to make. Anyone can get a nice camera, but it’s what they do with it - and without it - that creates the distinction.


When it comes to the connotation and perception of the terms, Videography is simple. Anyone can do it. Anyone can get paid for it. Anyone can be great at it with training and repetition. Cinematography takes a smart mind, great collaboration, and a lot of work prior to pressing that record button.

A example of the difference between the two is this. Videography is the recording of what is happening behind the scenes while cinematography is the creation of what you see in a movie. A lot more time and care are put into what shows up in the movie.


I consider myself a good videographer, but that’s not my goal. I'm want to be a great cinematographer. I want to work on projects that are widespread and have large budgets. I want to be the person who influences others to follow their dreams. And that, my friends, could take a lifetime of working against the grain, but I’m going to get there.