Cinematographers are in charge of making a film look visually pleasing. It's a tough job and everyone has to adapt their style to suit the director. For a lot of cinematographers, they take inspiration from photographs to help them decide on how they're going to approach a film. In no particular order, here's a look at some of the best cinematographers in the industry today.
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1. Emmanuel Lubezki
Probably one of the most sought out cinematographers in the world today. He's been nominated 10 times for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and then became the first person to win it three times, consecutively, for his work on Gravity (2013), Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015).
His style is groundbreaking. His use of natural lighting in most of his films has recently become one of his favourite methods, showing this in The Revenant. He also uses long takes, which you can see in many of his films (one of the most talked being Children Of Men). The long takes in that film were remarkable. To understand more of his style, watch the video below.
He's innovative and immersive. He creates moving images that make you feel like you're immersed in the characters world. He's outstanding and personally, he is my favourite cinematographer.
Other films include: Sleepy Hollow, A Series Of Unfortunate Events and The Tree Of Life.
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2. Bradford Young
Also an Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography, Bradford Young is probably the most underrated cinematographer on my list. His most notable works include Selma, A Most Violent Year and Ain't Them Bodies Saints.
On A Most Violent Year, Young had to create images that represented the era as it was set in 1981. He used lots of slow movements with the camera often mounted on a dolly. He has a real knack for creating aesthetically pleasing films.
Other films include: Pariah, Pawn Sacrifice and most recently Arrival.
3. Roger Deakins
He has been nominated 13 times for an Academy Award and is probably one of the best and most respected cinematographers there is. He is well known for his collaborations with the Coen brothers which dates back to Barton Fink (1991). He has worked on almost every one of their films since, most notably: Fargo, No Country For Old Men and True Grit.
This scene particularly shows just how good Deakin's is. He perfected the balance between light and dark and created a beautiful scene. He was able to build the tension using shadows and illuminations. Deakin is great at setting the moods and tones in his shots.
He has also collaborated with many other directors and has created some of the best films out there. Take a look at some of his best work:
Other films include: The Shawshank Redemption, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall and Sicario.
4. Robert Richardson
Many directors want to work with Richardson as he adapts his style around theirs. Cinematographers are artists so they're bound to have their own unique abilities when it comes to shots and framing, but its not just about the cameraman. They have to please the director too. That's why Richardson is so popular in the industry. He's worked with Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone. He has also won three Academy Awards for JFK, The Aviator and Hugo.
Other films include: The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Inglourious Bastards, Kill Bill and Shutter Island.
5. Janusz Kaminski
Kaminski is known for collaborating with Stephen Spielberg, they've worked on numerous films together, starting with Schindler's List. Spielberg states in an interview:
"Janusz is definitely the best of all the cinematographers I have worked with. When I met him I realized that there was a true artist standing in front of me. Using the right kind of lighting he creates pictures like Chagall's one day and like Goya's or Monet's another day. I thought: 'I need to keep that guy close.' And it has been like that ever since."
In Saving Private Ryan Kaminski was able to capture a natural and real look by filming hand-held. The camera is really shaky and it heightens the action and makes the audience feel like they're on the front line too. Kaminski is also not afraid to experiment, which is what directors find attractive.
Other films include: Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report and The BFG.
6. Claudio Miranda
He is best known for winning an Academy Award for his work on Life Of Pi. Miranda is also the first cinematographer in history to receive a nomination for an Oscar for an entirely digitally shot film. This was for his work on The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.
He usually aims for naturalistic lighting and he rarely backlights his subjects. Miranda is one of few cinematographers that shoot films on one digital camera. Life Of Pi was shot on Arri Alexa while The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button was shot on a Thomson Viper.
Other films include: Oblivion, Tron: Legacy and Tomorrowland.
7. Matthew Libatique
Best known for being Darren Aronofsky's long standing cinematographer. They have made Requiem For A Dream and The Fountain together.
Libatique likes to shoot with a lot of floor space for the actors to allow them more movement. He creates a mood that matches the scenes and the story, always, by manipulating light and the type of camera he shoots on. Filming with Fuji Vivid on super 16mm allowed Libatique to capture the grain in Black Swan.
Other films include: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Noah, Black Swan and Straight Outta Compton.
8. Bruno Delbonnel
Delbonnel is probably now best known for his work Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince, which resulted in the only film from the franchise to be nominated for an Oscar for its cinematography. In this film he created some simple, yet beautiful shots.
The film definitely had a dark tone to it which was fitting as it was the film leading up to the final battle. Bleak colors were used to create an eerie setting in all the scenes. The first few films were light and full of colour but as the films went on the storyline got darker which meant the way the films were made had to adapt to the way the story needed to be told and that's what Delbonnel achieved. He knew the story at this point was darker than the first few films so he set a more daunting tone.
You can see the change in tone and color with these two images below. The first image is taken from Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets and the second one being from Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince.
Other films include: Inside Llewyn Davis, Amélie and Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.
9. Hoyte Van Hoytema
Hoytema is one of the best and well known contemporary cinematographers. Like all cinematographers he adapts his style to work around the director. He has some big films under his belt such as Interstellar and Spectre. When asked if he looked at other Bond films to get inspiration, he replied:
"Yes, of course. But as much as you are a fanboy, and can be inspired by them, you owe it to yourself to make your own version – the one that Sam and I signed off on – and to move the franchise along. Obviously there’s an expectation – a Bond move has to have certain ingredients – and within those rules you have to find your own ideas."
He also decided to shoot Spectre on film rather than digital. This is something all cinematographers have to decide on with the director. Skyfall was shot on digital but Hoytema wanted to bring back an aura to the Bond films and he felt film would do that.
Other films include: Her, The Fighter and Let The Right One In.
10. John Toll
He is best known for his work on Braveheart, which earned him an Oscar. Toll really knows how to change his style for each and every film he works on. He uses panoramic shots and close-ups to create more personal scenes when needed. In Almost Famous the close-ups were on body parts, not just character's faces. This aids the viewers into having a much bigger insight into these characters. He keeps shots interesting.
Recently Toll has gone onto the smaller screen working with the Wachowskis's on Sense8 which is a beautifully shot TV show.
Other films include: Gone Baby Gone, The Adjustment Bureau and Iron Man 3.