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A cinematographer (from 'cinema photographer') is one photographing with a motion picture camera (the art and science of which is known as cinematography). The title is generally equivalent to director of photography (DP or DoP), used to designate a chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, responsible for achieving artistic and techical decisions related to the image. The cinematographer is sometimes also the camera operator. The term cinematographer has been a point of contention for some time now; some professionals insist that it only applies when the director of photography and camera operator are the same person, although this is far from being uniformly the case. To most, cinematographer and director of photography are interchangeable terms.



The English system of camera department hierarchy sometimes firmly separates the duties of the director of photography from that of the camera operator to the point that the DP often has no say whatsoever over more purely operating-based visual elements such as framing. In this case, the DP is often credited as a lighting cameraman. This system means that the director will consult together with both the lighting cameraman for lighting and filtration, and the operator for framing and lens choices.

The American system tends to be the more widely-adopted, in which the rest of the camera department is totally subordinate to the DP, who with the director is the final word on all decisions related to both lighting and framing.

The cinematographer typically selects the film stock, lens, 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 aperture and shutter angle. 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 s/he wants from a scene visually, and allow the cinematographer latitude in achieving that effect.

On some shoots, a director may assume the duties of the cinematographer, especially when shooting nude scenes or in other physically intimate settings where the director wishes to have as few people as possible present.

Some of the crew who work under or closely with the cinematographer include:

In some countries, cinematography is a unionized field.


Major international organizations involved in the advancement of cinematography include the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) and the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC). These bodies are neither labor unions nor guilds, but are instead educational, cultural and professional organizations.

There are other similar organizations in many countries, including Argentina, Canada, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Noted Cinematographers

This section is for ground-breaking or renowned cinematographers. Please do not add names without careful consideration of the accomplishments of those listed here, most of whom have been well recognized by their peers over a long stretch of time or work.

Nestor Almendros
John A. Alonzo
John Alton
Lucien Ballard
Andrzej Bartkowiak
Adrian Biddle
Billy Bitzer
Michel Brault
Jack Cardiff
Christopher Challis
Michael Chapman
César Charlone
Raoul Coutard
Dean Cundey
William H. Daniels
Roger Deakins
Caleb Deschanel
Christopher Doyle
A. A. Englander
Freddie Francis
Karl Freund
Ron Fricke
Tak Fujimoto
James Glennon
Conrad Hall
Jack Hildyard
Slawomir Idziak
James Wong Howe
Janusz Kaminski
Darius Khondji
László Kovács
Emmanuel Lubezki
Subrata Mitra
Kazuo Miyagawa
Oswald Morris
Robby Muller
Sven Nykvist
Roger Pratt
Rodrigo Prieto
Robert Richardson
Joseph Ruttenberg
Douglas Slocombe
John Seale
Andrzej Sekula
Vittorio Storaro
Gregg Toland
John Toll
Geoffrey Unsworth
Roy H. Wagner
David Watkin
Haskell Wexler
Billy Williams
Gordon Willis
Freddie Young
Vadim Yusov
Vilmos Zsigmond


The documentary film Visions of Light is an excellent look at the progression of the art of cinematography across film history, and includes interviews with many famous cinematographers. It is a good introduction for those interested in the field, and includes much in the way of archival footage, anecdotes, and famous cinematographers commenting on whom they looked up to.

See also

External links

Home | Up | Camera magazine | Camera operator | Cinematic genre | Cinematographer | Clapper loader | Deep focus | List of film formats | Virtual camera

Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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