A cinematographer or director of photography (sometimes shortened to DP or DOP) is the chief over the camera and light crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.
The cinematographer selects the camera, film stock, lenses, filters, etc., to realize the scene in accordance with the intentions of the director. Relations between the cinematographer and director vary; in some instances, the director will allow the cinematographer complete independence; in others, the director allows little to none, even going so far as to specify exact camera placement and lens selection. Such a level of involvement is not common once the director and cinematographer have become comfortable with each other; the director will typically convey to the cinematographer what is wanted from a scene visually and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.
Several American cinematographers have become directors, including Reed Morano who lensed Frozen River and Beyonce's Lemonade before winning an Emmy for directing The Handmaid's Tale . Barry Sonnenfeld, originally the Coen brothers' DP; Jan de Bont, cinematographer on films such as Die Hard and Basic Instinct , directed Speed and Twister . Nicolas Roeg, cinematographer on films such as The Caretaker (1963) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964), directed Don't Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Ellen Kuras, ASC photographed Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind as well as a number of Spike Lee films such as Summer of Sam and He Got Game before directing episodes of Legion and Ozark. In 2014, Wally Pfister, cinematographer on Christopher Nolan's three Batman films, made his directorial debut with Transcendence ; whilst British cinematographers Jack Cardiff and Freddie Francis regularly moved between the two positions.
In the infancy of motion pictures, the cinematographer was usually also the director and the person physically handling the camera. As the art form and technology evolved, a separation between director and camera operator emerged. With the advent of artificial lighting and faster (more light-sensitive) film stocks, in addition to technological advancements in optics, the technical aspects of cinematography necessitated a specialist in that area.
Cinematography was key during the silent movie era; with no sound apart from background music and no dialogue, the films depended on lighting, acting, and set.
In 1919 Hollywood, the then-new motion picture capital of the world,[ citation needed ] one of the first (and still existing) trade societies was formed: the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), which stood to recognize the cinematographer's contribution to the art and science of motion picture making. Similar trade associations have been established in other countries too. The ASC Vision Committee is known for working to encourage and support the advancement of underrepresented cinematographers, their crews and other filmmakers, and to inspire us all to enact positive changes through hiring talent that reflects society at large.
However, the Soviet filmmaker, Dziga Vertov, writing in Kino-fot No.1 (August 1922) rejected the role of Cinematographer in the "We: Variant of a Manifesto":
We call ourselves kinoks – as opposed to "cinematographers", a herd of junkmen doing rather well peddling their rags.
We see no connection between true kinochestvo and the cunning and calculation of the profiteers.
We consider the psychological Russo-German film-drama – weighed down with apparitions and childhood memories – an absurdity."
There are a number of national associations of cinematographers that represent members (irrespective of their official titles) and are dedicated to the advancement of cinematography. These include:
The A.S.C. defines 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.
Cinematography is the art of motion-picture photography and filming either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock.
Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC was an Australian cinematographer. He was best known as the cinematographer for The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) and its prequel The Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014), both directed by New Zealand director Peter Jackson. He received the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in 2002.
The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), founded in Hollywood in 1919, is a cultural, educational, and professional organization that is neither a labor union nor a guild. The society was organized to advance the science and art of cinematography and gather a wide range of cinematographers to discuss techniques and ideas and to advocate for motion pictures as a type of art form. Currently, the president of the ASC is Kees van Oostrum.
László KovácsASC was a Hungarian cinematographer who was influential in the development of American New Wave films in the 1970s, collaborating with directors like Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Rush, Dennis Hopper, Norman Jewison, and Martin Scorsese. Most famous for his work on Easy Rider (1969) and Five Easy Pieces (1970), Kovács was the recipient of numerous awards, including three Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was an active member of the American Society of Cinematographers and was member of the organization's board of directors.
Roy Henry Wagner III, ASC is an American cinematographer known for dramatic, dark imagery. Named by Kodak as one of the "Top 100 Directors of Photography in the World" Wagner's career has spanned 35 years in the motion picture and television industries. He has also received the ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for a Miniseries, and is a two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee.
Philip H. Lathrop, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer noted for his skills with wide screen technology and detailed approach to lighting and camera placement. He spent most of his life in movie studios. Lathrop was known for such films as Touch of Evil (1958), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), The Americanization of Emily (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Point Blank (1967), Finian's Rainbow (1968), The Traveling Executioner (1970), Portnoy's Complaint (1972), Earthquake (1974), Swashbuckler (1976), The Driver (1978), Moment by Moment (1978), A Change of Seasons (1980), Foolin' Around (1980), Loving Couples (1980), and Deadly Friend (1986).
Robert L. Surtees, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer who won three Academy Awards for the films King Solomon's Mines, The Bad and the Beautiful and the 1959 version of Ben Hur. Surtees worked at various studios, including Universal, UFA, Warner Brothers, and MGM, lighting for such luminaries as Howard Hawks, Mike Nichols, and William Wyler, gaining him a reputation as one of the most versatile cinematographers of his time.
Wong Tung Jim, A.S.C., known professionally as James Wong Howe (Houghto), was a Chinese-born American cinematographer who worked on over 130 films. During the 1930s and 1940s, he was one of the most sought after cinematographers in Hollywood due to his innovative filming techniques. Howe was known as a master of the use of shadow and one of the first to use deep-focus cinematography, in which both foreground and distant planes remain in focus.
Peter Suschitzky, A.S.C. is a British cinematographer and photographer. Among his most known works as director of photography are The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Empire Strikes Back, and Mars Attacks! and the later films of David Cronenberg. Suschitzky succeeded Mark Irwin as Cronenberg's regular cinematographer when Irwin left during the pre-production of Dead Ringers (1988), and has been the cinematographer for all of Cronenberg's films since. He has also collaborated with directors John Boorman, Ken Russell, Bernard Rose, and Tim Burton.
Frederick James Koenekamp, A.S.C. was an American cinematographer. He was the son of cinematographer Hans F. Koenekamp.
Dean Raymond Cundey, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer and film director. He is known for his collaborations with John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, as well as his extensive work in the horror genre, in addition to numerous family and comedy films. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and has been nominated for numerous BAFTAs and BSC Awards.
David Russell Boyd, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer and director of television and film known for his role as director of photography for the FOX television series Firefly and the AMC series The Walking Dead. He also worked as cinematographer on the first three episodes of HBO's Deadwood. On the NBC television series Friday Night Lights he served as director of photography on 18 of 22 episodes in the first season and moved up to direct two more. He also directed the film Home Run, which was released in 2013.
Jeffrey Scott Cronenweth, ASC is an American cinematographer based in Los Angeles, California who is known for his role as the director of photography on the David Fincher films Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and was invited to join the cinematographers branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2004. He is the son of Jordan Cronenweth, one of the most influential cinematographers in motion picture history.
Thomas Richmond is an American cinematographer who has worked in the film industry since the mid-1980s. His first major feature film as cinematographer was Stand and Deliver (1988), and by the time he shot for A Midnight Clear (1992), he had settled into working with different directors with ease. Richmond described his experience, "All my films look different because they're not my visions; they're my reflections of the directors' visions." In 1998, he said he was most proud of his work on Little Odessa (1994), for which he was nominated an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography. For Right At Your Door (2006), he won the Excellence in Cinematography Award (Dramatic) at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Richard Crudo, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer and director. He is a 6-term past-president of the American Society of Cinematographers.
Eric Wesley Steelberg is an American cinematographer. He is a frequent collaborator of Jason Reitman, having worked with him on Juno (2007), Up in the Air (2009), Young Adult (2011), Labor Day (2013), Men, Women & Children (2014), and Tully (2018).
The German Society of Cinematographers, was founded in 1980 as a non-profit professional association of German free-lanced cinematographers / DoP's and their collaborators.
Valentina Caniglia is an Italian-American cinematographer and director, who has received awards for her work. She is a member of the Italian Society of Cinematographers (AIC) and European federation of Cinematographers (IMAGO).
Sharon Calahan is an American cinematographer who was director of photography on the Pixar films A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), and Finding Nemo (2003), and was lighting director for Ratatouille (2007), Cars 2 (2011), and The Good Dinosaur (2015). She took part in the early rise of computer animated feature filmmaking and the acceptance of that medium as cinematography. Calahan is the first member of the American Society of Cinematographers who was invited to join on the basis of a career entirely in animated film. She was nominated, with Bill Reeves, Eben Ostby, and Rick Sayre, for a 2000 BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects for A Bug's Life.
John Arnold (1889–1964) was an American cinematographer. He began in 1914, and in his 25 years behind the camera, he shot 86 films. He also worked in film administration, directing the cinematography department at MGM, and was president of the American Society of Cinematographers from 1931 through 1937, and again from 1939 to 1941. By 1938, he was regarded as one of the most authoritative experts on cinematography. He invented several pieces of camera equipment and was awarded two Oscars, both Technical Achievement Awards. The first was in 1938 for improvements on the semi-automatic follow focus device used on motion picture cameras, while the second was in 1940 for the development of the MGM mobile camera crane.