The best places for movie educations are the best places to study cinematography: USC, NYU, and UCLA.
Serious film school students start at these schools because the film industry is located in southern California and in New York City and because courses at these film schools are taught by well-connected industry insiders.
However, students can get a taste of cinematography in as little as six weeks at the independent New York Film Academy. Or at local community colleges, for that matter.
Cinematography: the art of light
Every cinematographer's a techie at heart, an equipment buff who has to know why and how the camera works, how film captures an image, and now, how digital can imitate a film-like image.
Cinematographers also study sound design, recording, editing, mixing, and finishing as well as film aesthetics. Workshopping, actually shooting and editing films, is a crucial part of a cinematographer's film school education. The best schools have the best film labs.
Cinematography: one part of your film school education
Most film schools offer comprehensive movie educations to students interested in cinematography. In order to be a cinematographer, a student should be well-versed in international film history and have a course in directing, in animation or special effects, and in film production.
Where cinematographers work
Students who don't aim to be a multiple oscar-winning cinematographer like Conrad Hall (Road to Perdition; American Beauty) or John Toll (Braveheart; Legends of the Fall) have lots of career options.
Some work in television, some shoot independent film, some shoot documentaries and educational films, some shoot music videos. Most start on camera crews and work their way up. Most are paid by the hour.
The American Society of Cinematographers <www.theasc.com>