The art of cinematography



After watching a documentary on the life of Jack Cardiff, one of the greatest cinematographers in American and British cinema, I realized that the astonishment and enjoyment that we have when watching a great movie is all thanks to this great art form. When you hear the greatest directors talk about the importance of cinematography and how it makes it easier for them to deliver their vision or message to the viewer, you realize that it is the key to producing a successful movie.

Movies rely on cinematography. You cannot make a movie that grabs the attention of the audience without a skillful director of photography. Generally, movies rely on words and images. Knowing how to balance the two gracefully will create a great movie. Words must be creative and the cinematography must be astonishing. This is the recipe for a successful movie.

The movie making business is filled with people who remain unknown to the general public. Many do not know the name of the director of the movie let alone the name of the director of photography. But we all know which movie is successful. The director of a successful movie knows the name of the cinematographer who helped him make the movie a success. This is how classic movies are made that people watch again and again.

When you hear a cinematographer speaking passionately about the process of turning an average scene into a terrific cinematic shot by manipulating light and shadow, you will realize the skill and imagination involved in achieving the director’s vision.

We may not always recognize the beauty cinematographers create due to the quick passing of images in the movie. But if we imagine that we are looking at smooth abstract paintings that will eventually create the storyline of the movie, we may then grasp a small part of the art involved.

Like any other art form, cinematography relies on intuition and emotions and the artist’s expertise and experience in life. What he reads will also be reflected in the way he shoots the movie scenes.

A cinematographer’s manipulation of light and color affects our emotions. So in order to make a difference you have to be bold, passionate and innovative. Remember those great movies that are still stuck in your mind. Go back and re-watch them, then search for the cinematographer and start watching more of hisher work. Trust me, you will enjoy the art of cinematography.

Twitter: @hjazzi