Director of Photography vs. Cinematographer - is there a difference?

So what's the difference between Cinematographer and Director of Photography?

I get this question quite often and it's a good  one.  I prefer to be called a cinematographer because that's what I think of myself as being.  But - I know the shorthand of being called a "DP" is ubiquitous in the commercial world.  Who is the DP?  Who's the best DP?  I think we like to shorten things and abbreviate in this day and age so I see the "DP" nomenclature gaining steam.  

Sometimes - I feel a little pretentious calling myself a cinemtographer but then that's what I think of my self as -  I am a recorder of cinema.  I use the tools in my toolbox to paint with the light, and position and move the camera to further the story and create something beautiful.  A recorder of movements - thank you Wikipedia

Cinematography (from Greekκίνημαkinema "movements" and γράφεινgraphein "to record")

The ASC, the American Soceity of Cinematographers, from the article Hora, John. The American Cinematographer Manual (9 ed.) .defines the role of cinematography as 

"a creative and interpretive process that culminates in the authorship of an original work of art rather than the simple recording of a physical event. Cinematography is not a subcategory of photography. Rather, photography is but one craft that the cinematographer uses in addition to other physical, organizational, managerial, interpretive and image-manipulating techniques to effect one coherent process."

Also - Roger Deakins, a personal hero, has this to say about it "when it comes to narrative storytelling I personally prefer to be credited as a Cinematographer. I always saw the relationship between a Director and cameraman as mutual combination of ideas and decisions that overall move the story forward and give the look and feel of a picture. I have worked with plenty of Directors and I'm sure you have done the same that have had an idea of the framing they were looking for when the shot was being set up...or why would there be directors viewfinders? I told him I thought a DP was someone who actually had entire control over how a subject was lit as well as being shot i.e interviews and documentary work.

All that being said - you can call me whatever you want on your project - I'd love to help you shoot it no matter what title you call me if it's a great story!

Jon Swindall

Jon Swindall produces, directs, and shoots t.v. shows, commercial, and feature films.