Best Cinematographers

They sure knew what they were doing! Great cinematographers (in no particular order; this is not a race or match) and their best work
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Gordon Willis
Cinematographer, The Godfather
“ Manhattan ” - dzierzgul
“ Saving Private Ryan ” - dzierzgul
Freddie Young
Cinematographer, Lawrence of Arabia
Freddie Young was one of the great cinematographers who won Oscars for his collaborations with David Lean on Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and Ryan's Daughter. He was the first English director of photography to shoot a movie in the wide-screen CinemaScope, a process which he mastered, which is evident from his work with Lean.
“ Lawrence of Arabia ” - dzierzgul
Roger Deakins
Cinematographer, The Shawshank Redemption
Roger Deakins is an English cinematographer best known for his work on the films of the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes, and Denis Villeneuve. He is a member of both the American and British Society of Cinematographers, and received thirteen nominations for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Deakins' first feature film in America as cinematographer was Mountains of the Moon (1990)...
“ O Brother, Where Art Thou? ” - dzierzgul
“ There Will Be Blood ” - dzierzgul
Douglas Slocombe
Cinematographer, Raiders of the Lost Ark
London-born Douglas Slocombe has long been regarded as one of the film industry's premiere cinematographers, but he began his career as a photojournalist for Life magazine and the Paris-Match newspaper before World War II. During the war he became a newsreel cameraman, and at war's end he went to work for Ealing Studios as a camera operator...
“ Raiders of the Lost Ark ” - dzierzgul
Conrad L. Hall
Cinematographer, American Beauty
Born in Tahiti, the son of writer James Norman Hall, author of "Mutiny on the Bounty," Conrad Hall studied filmmaking at USC. He and two classmates formed a production company and sold a project to a local television station. Hall's company branched out into making industrial films and TV commercials...
“ Road to Perdition ” - dzierzgul
William A. Fraker
Camera and Electrical Department, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
“ Rosemary's Baby ” - dzierzgul
John F. Seitz
Cinematographer, Sunset Blvd.
Distinguished veteran cinematographer John F. Seitz had eighteen patents for various photographic processes to his name. These included illuminating devices, processes for making dissolves and the matte shot, which he perfected during filming of Rex Ingram's Trifling Women. Seitz started with Essanay in Chicago...
“ Sunset Blvd. ” - dzierzgul
Robert Surtees
Cinematographer, The Graduate
Robert L. Surtees began his working life as a portrait photographer and retoucher, before becoming camera assistant at Universal in 1927. He spent a lengthy apprenticeship (15 years) working under such experienced cinematographers as Hal Mohr, Joseph Ruttenberg and Gregg Toland. Between 1929 and 1930...
“ The Sting ” - dzierzgul
James Wong Howe
Cinematographer, The Thin Man
Master cinematographer James Wong Howe, whose career stretched from silent pictures through the mid-'70s, was born Wong Tung Jim in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, on August 28, 1899, the son of Wong How. His father emigrated to America the year James was born, settling in Pasco, Washington, where he worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad...
“ Sweet Smell of Success ” - dzierzgul
Robert Burks
Cinematographer, Rear Window
The favorite cinematographer of famous director Alfred Hitchcock began working at Warner Bros. when he was 19 years old. He climbed his way up from camera operator to assistant camera man and eventually took over the Special Photographic Effects unit at Warners on Stage 5 in 1944. He became an expert in forced perspective techniques which were widely in use at the time as cost-saving measures...
“ Vertigo ” - dzierzgul
“ Repulsion ” - dzierzgul
“ Brazil ” - dzierzgul
Michael Ballhaus
Cinematographer, The Departed
“ Gangs of New York ” - dzierzgul
Caleb Deschanel
Cinematographer, The Patriot
“ The Right Stuff ” - dzierzgul
Charles Lang
Cinematographer, Some Like It Hot
One of the outstanding cinematographers of Hollywood's Golden Age, Lang spent most of his career at Paramount (1929-1952), where he contributed to the studio's well-earned reputation for visual style. Lang was educated at Lincoln High School in L.A., then proceeded to the University of Southern California to study law...
“ Some Like it Hot ” - dzierzgul
Jack Cardiff
Almost universally considered one of the greatest cinematographers of all time, Jack Cardiff was also a notable director. He described his childhood as very happy and his parents as quite loving. They performed in music hall as comedians, so he grew up with the fun that came with their theatrical life in pantomime and vaudeville...
“ Black Narcissus ” - dzierzgul
John Alcott
Cinematographer, The Shining
John Alcott, the Oscar-winning cinematographer best known for his collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick, was born in 1931, in Isleworth, England, the son of movie executive Arthur Alcott, who would become the production controller at Gainsborough Studios during the 1940s. Alcott began his film career as a clapper boy...
“ Barry Lyndon ” - dzierzgul
“ Life and Death of Colonel Blimp ” - dzierzgul
Oswald Morris
Cinematographer, Lolita
Oscar-winning cinematography Oswald Morris was one of the most outstanding directors of photography of the 20th Century, making his reputation by expanding the parameters of color cinematography. Born in November 1915 in Hillingdon, Middlesex, England, a month short of his 17th birthday, he became a factotum and clapper boy at Wembley Studios...
“ Moby Dick ” - dzierzgul
“ JFK ” - dzierzgul
Vilmos Zsigmond
Cinematographer, The Deer Hunter
Along with László Kovács, a fellow student who fled Hungary in 1956, Zsigmond rose to prominence in the 1970s. He is known for his use of natural light and vivid use of color on features such as The Long Goodbye and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
“ Close Encounters of the Third Kind ” - dzierzgul
Néstor Almendros
Cinematographer, Kramer vs. Kramer
One of the highest appraised contemporary cinematographers. He was born in Spain but moved to Cuba by age 18 to join his exiled anti-Franco father. In Havana, he founded a cineclub and wrote film reviews. Then, he went on to study in Rome at the Centro Sperimentale. He directed six shorts in Cuba and two in New York...
“ Days of Heaven ” - dzierzgul
Haskell Wexler
Two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler was adjudged one of the ten most influential cinematographers in movie history, according to an International Cinematographers Guild survey of its membership. He won his Oscars in both black & white and color, for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and Bound for Glory (1976)...
“ Who's Affraid of Virginia Woolf ” - dzierzgul
Michael Chapman
Cinematographer, Taxi Driver
“ Raging Bull ” - dzierzgul
Geoffrey Unsworth
Cinematographer, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Goeffrey Unsworth was one of the great cinematographers of the 20th Century, the winner of two Oscars, five BAFTA awards, and three awards from the British Society of Cinematographers for his work as a director of photography. Born in 1914 in Lancashire, England, Unsworth started in the industry in 1932 at Gaumont-British before joining Technicolor in 1937...
“ 2001: A Space Odyssey ” - dzierzgul
“ The Bridge on the River Kwai ” - dzierzgul
“ Deconstructing Harry ” - dzierzgul
Sven Nykvist
Sven Nykvist was considered by many in the industry to be one of the world's greatest cinematographers. During his long career that spanned almost half a century, Nyvist perfected the art of cinematography to its most simple attributes, and he helped give the films he had worked on the simplest and most natural look imaginable...
“ The Tenant ” - dzierzgul
Vittorio Storaro
Cinematographer, Apocalypse Now
Vittorio Storaro, the award-winning cinematographer who won Oscars for "Apocalypse Now", "Reds" and "The Last Emperor". He was born on June 24, 1940 in Rome, where his father was a projectionist at the Lux Film Studio. At the age of 11, he began studying photography at a technical school...
“ Apocalypse Now ” - dzierzgul
Gabriel Figueroa
Cinematographer, Kelly's Heroes
“ The Exterminating Angel ” - dzierzgul
Joseph Walker
Cinematographer, It's a Wonderful Life
Frank Capra's favourite cinematographer began his working life as an electrical engineer who collaborated with Lee De Forest on building the first wireless transmitter. However, it was his interest in moving picture photography which led him to work in film laboratories, where his numerous pioneering inventions included the first lens adjustment mechanisms (zoom lenses)...
“ Only Angels Have Wings ” - dzierzgul
Russell Harlan
Cinematographer, To Kill a Mockingbird
Born Russell September 16, 1903 in Los Angeles, California to Frank and Bertha Harlan, who hailed from Iowa and Missouri. Russell was raised in Los Angeles along with his younger brother Richard (b. 1911). His paternal grandmother Sarah J. Harlan also lived with the family. Harlan started in the film industry as an actor and stuntman...
“ Red River ” - dzierzgul
Ernest Laszlo
Cinematographer, Judgment at Nuremberg
Ernest Laszlo, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer best known for his creative collaborations with directors Robert Aldrich and Stanley Kramer, was born on April 23, 1898, in Budapest, Hungary, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After emigrating to the US, he worked as a camera operator on Wings...
“ Judgement At Nuremberg ” - dzierzgul
“ Master and Commander: Far Side of the World ” - dzierzgul
Armand Thirard
Cinematographer, Diabolique
“ The Wages of Fear ” - dzierzgul
John Toll
Cinematographer, Braveheart
“ Thin Red Line ” - dzierzgul
John Seale
Cinematographer, Mad Max: Fury Road
“ Witness ” - dzierzgul
Emmanuel Lubezki
Cinematographer, Gravity
Lubezki began his career in Mexican film and television productions in the late 1980s. His first international production was the 1993 independent film Twenty Bucks, which followed the journey of a single twenty-dollar bill. Lubezki is a frequent collaborator with fellow Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón...
“ Children of Men ” - dzierzgul
Franz Planer
Cinematographer, Breakfast at Tiffany's
Descended from a wealthy family of landowners in what was then Austria-Hungary, Franz Planer understood the importance of photography as an art form early in his life. He first stood behind the camera as a portrait photographer, working out of Vienna from 1910. He soon branched out, filming newsreels in Paris and...
“ Roman Holiday ” - dzierzgul
Joseph Ruttenberg
Cinematographer, The Philadelphia Story
Four-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1893, at the age of four, his family moved to the United States, eventually settling in Boston. After schooling, he got his first job in 1907 working as a newsboy and personal runner for William Randolph Hearst's 'Boston American'...
“ Gaslight ” - dzierzgul
Stanley Cortez
Cinematographer, The Night of the Hunter
Stanley Cortez was born Samuel Krantz in New York City, New York, the son of Sarah (Lefkowitz) and Moses/Morris Krantz, Austrian Jewish immigrants. His famous actor brother, born Jacob Krantz, changed his name to Ricardo Cortez in order to acquire a more suitably romantic Hollywood image, and Stanley also changed his name...
“ Night of the Hunter ” - dzierzgul
Gregg Toland
Cinematographer, Citizen Kane
Born in Illinois in 1904, the only child of Jennie and Frank Toland, Gregg and his mother moved to California several years after his parents divorced in 1910. Through Jennie's work as a housekeeper for several people in the movie business, Gregg may had gotten a $12-a-week job at age 15 as an office boy at William Fox Studios...
“ Citizen Kane ” - dzierzgul
Arthur Edeson
Cinematographer, Casablanca
Arthur Edeson is an American cinematographer who was a pioneer of his craft. His career spanned four decades and encompassed many films now regarded as classics. Born in New York in 1891, Edeson first worked as a still photographer. In 1911 he entered the movie business at Eclair Studios, a production unit based in Fort Lee...
“ The Maltese Falcon ” - dzierzgul
Harry Stradling Sr.
Cinematographer, My Fair Lady
Multi-Academy Award-nominated cinematographer (13 in all), Harry Stradling was unique in that he established his reputation both in America and in Europe. He was the nephew of Mary Pickford's cameraman Walter Stradling, who provided the connections for his first job in Hollywood. Walter died in 1918 and Harry went on to serve his apprenticeship...
“ My Fair Lady ” - dzierzgul
Bruno Delbonnel
Cinematographer, Amélie
“ Across the Universe ” - dzierzgul
“ Lust, Caution ” - dzierzgul
Andrzej Bartkowiak
Cinematographer, Speed
“ Verdict ” - dzierzgul
Boris Kaufman
Cinematographer, 12 Angry Men
Boris Kaufman, the Oscar-winning cinematographer who shot Jean Vigo's oeuvre and helped introduce a neo-realistic style into American films, was born on August 24, 1897, in Bialystok, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire. The youngest son of librarians, the Soviet directors Denis Kaufman (a.k.a...
“ Twelve Angry Men ” - dzierzgul
“ Silence of the Lambs ” - dzierzgul
“ Body Double ” - dzierzgul
Rudolph Maté
One of the most respected cinematographers in the industry, Polish-born Rudolph Mate entered the film business after his graduation from the University of Budapest. He worked in Hungary as an assistant cameraman for Alexander Korda and later worked throughout Europe with noted cameraman Karl Freund...
“ The Passion of Joan of Arc ” - dzierzgul
Fritz Arno Wagner
Cinematographer, M
Regarded as one of the foremost exponents of cinematic expressionism in the 1920's, Fritz Arno Wagner was trained at the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and began in the film industry working for Pathé Freres in 1910. Within just two years, he was promoted to head Pathé's offices in Vienna, and, subsequently...
“ The Testament of Dr. Mabuse ” - dzierzgul
Nicholas Musuraca
Cinematographer, Out of the Past
Italian-born Nicholas Musuraca's first job in the film business was as a chauffeur to early pioneering producer/director J. Stuart Blackton. Having a knack for photography, he worked behind the cameras in a variety of jobs before finally becoming a cinematographer (or, as they were called in those days...
“ Cat People ” - dzierzgul
Jack N. Green
Cinematographer, Unforgiven
“ Unforgiven ” - dzierzgul
Robert Krasker
Cinematographer, The Third Man
A somewhat underrated figure in cinematographic history, Australian-born Robert Krasker handled some of the most memorable films made in Britain after the Second World War. In his youth, he attended art classes in Paris and studied photography at the Photohaendler Schule in Dresden. He briefly worked for Paramount in Paris...
“ The Third Man ” - dzierzgul
“ The Adventures of Baron Munchausen ” - dzierzgul
“ Once Upon a Time in the West ” - dzierzgul
Owen Roizman
Cinematographer, The Exorcist
Ace cinematographer Owen Roizman was born September 22, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York. His father Sol was a cinematographer for Fox Movietone News and his uncle Morrie Roizman was a film editor. Owen studied math and physics at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. He began his career shooting TV commercials...
“ The Exorcist ” - dzierzgul
William C. Mellor
Cinematographer, Giant
Mellor began his career in the photographic labs at Paramount in the mid-20's. By 1934, he had graduated to full-time director of photography, working primarily on the studio's lesser productions. At the same time, he continued to serve his apprenticeship by assisting veteran cinematographer Victor Milner as first camera operator on A-grade features...
“ Bad Day at Black Rock ” - dzierzgul
Joseph LaShelle
Cinematographer, The Apartment
Trained as an electrical engineer, Joseph LaShelle entered the film industry as a lab assistant with Paramount in 1920 in order to finance entry to Stanford University. Having worked his way up to superintendent of the Paramount printing room after three years, he decided to stay on. By 1925, he was...
“ Laura ” - dzierzgul
Miroslav Ondrícek
Cinematographer, Amadeus
“ Amadeus ” - dzierzgul
Otto Heller
Cinematographer, The Ladykillers
Pioneering Czech cinematographer Ota (later anglicised to 'Otto') Heller started as a cinema usher and then worked as a projectionist at a cinema in Prague. He first came to prominence as a military reporter and cameraman on the Italian Front during World War I and was subsequently involved in filming the funeral of Emperor Franz Josef...
“ Peeping Tom ” - dzierzgul
Nicola Pecorini
Camera and Electrical Department, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
“ The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus ” - dzierzgul
Henri Alekan
Cinematographer, Roman Holiday
“ Beauty and the Beast ” - dzierzgul
Karl Freund
Cinematographer, I Love Lucy
Karl Freund, an innovative director of photography responsible for development of the three-camera system used to shoot television situation comedies, was born on January 16, 1890, in the Bohemian city of Koeniginhof, then part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire (now known as Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic)...
“ Metropolis ” - dzierzgul
Dante Spinotti
Cinematographer, L.A. Confidential
Dante Spinotti was born in Tolmezzo, Udine, in the northeastern Italian Region of Friuli. He began his career at RAI (Italian TV), before that he spent lot of time in Kenia as cinematographer for his uncle. In 1985, producer Dino De Laurentiis offered him a chance to work in USA for the first time with Michael Mann for the feature Manhunter...
“ Heat ” - dzierzgul
“ Fitzcarraldo ” - dzierzgul
Russell Metty
Cinematographer, Spartacus
Cinematographer Russell Metty, a superb craftsman who worked with such top directors as John Huston, Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg and Orson Welles, was born in Los Angeles on Septmeber 20, 1906. Entering the movie industry as a lab assistant, he apprenticed as an assistant cameraman and graduated to lighting cameraman at RKO Radio Pictures in 1935...
“ Touch of Evil ” - dzierzgul
“ Three Colours: Red ” - dzierzgul
Asakazu Nakai
Cinematographer, Seven Samurai
“ Seven Samurai ” - dzierzgul
Milton R. Krasner
Cinematographer, All About Eve
Milton Krasner entered the film industry as an assistant cameraman in 1917, and while working at the Vitagraph and Biograph studios in New York City was promoted to camera operator. Graduating to lighting cameraman in 1933, he was assigned mostly second features until the mid-'40s, when his excellence in black-and-white photography was finally recognized...
“ Scarlett Street ” - dzierzgul
“ Do The Right Thing ” - dzierzgul
David Watkin
Cinematographer, Out of Africa
David Watkin was born on March 23rd 1925 to a middle class family in Kent, England. Being fond of classical music, he originally wanted to become a pianist despite the lack of support from his religious father. Watkin served shortly in World War II before finally beginning his career in cinema. His...
“ Out of Africa ” - dzierzgul
“ Empire of the Sun ” - dzierzgul
Sam Leavitt
Cinematographer, Anatomy of a Murder
“ A Star is Born ” - dzierzgul
Freddie Francis
Cinematographer, The Elephant Man
During his last years at school he spent most of his time writing a thesis on 'the future of film' On leaving school he joined Gaumont British Studios at Lime Grove as an apprentice to a stills photographer for a year. He claimed this taught him more about the art of photography than any other form of training could...
“ The Innocents ” - dzierzgul
Floyd Crosby
Cinematographer, High Noon
Floyd Delafield Crosby was born in 1899 to Fredrick Van Schoonhoven Crosby (1860-1920) and Julia Floyd Delafield (1874-1952). Floyd had one sibling, Katherine Van Rensselaer (Gregory). Floyd married Aliph Van Cortland Whitehead in 1940 and they had two children, Floyd Delafield Crosby (Ethan) in 1936 and David Crosby in 1940...
“ High Noon ” - dzierzgul
Lucien Ballard
Cinematographer, The Wild Bunch
Lucien Ballard, the cinematographer best known for his collaboration with director Sam Peckinpah on such films as The Wild Bunch, was born in Miami, Oklahoma. Ballard became a wanderer after dropping out of the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania and the University of Oklahoma, journeying to China in search of opportunity...
“ The Wild Bunch ” - dzierzgul
Ernest Haller
Cinematographer, Gone with the Wind
Distinguished American cinematographer Ernest Haller started in the industry in 1914 as an actor with Biograph after leaving his first job as a bank clerk. Within one year he discovered his true calling: being on the other side of the camera. By 1920, he had become a full director of photography and would go on to handle prestige pictures ...
“ Gone With The Wind ” - dzierzgul
Henri Decaë
Cinematographer, The 400 Blows
Although Henri Decaë gained fame as a cinematographer, he actually entered the film industry as an editor and soundman. Serving as a cameraman in the French army during WW II, upon his release he began making documentaries and directing and photographing industrial and commercial films, then in 1947 made his first feature...
“ Le Cercle Rouge ” - dzierzgul
“ La Grande Illusion ” - dzierzgul
Burnett Guffey
Cinematographer, Bonnie and Clyde
Burnett Guffey was a man who loved his family and the work that he did. Till his very last days, he kept his no bull attitude and will always be loved and remembered for his greatness by his family.
“ In a Lonely Place ” - dzierzgul
Harris Savides
Cinematographer, Zodiac
“ Zodiac ” - dzierzgul
Walter Lassally
Cinematographer, Zorba the Greek
“ The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner ” - dzierzgul
Wally Pfister
Cinematographer, The Dark Knight
“ Prestige ” - dzierzgul
“ Pan's Labyrinth ” - dzierzgul
John A. Alonzo
Cinematographer, Scarface
“ Chinatown ” - dzierzgul
Raoul Coutard
Cinematographer, Breathless
“ Z ” - dzierzgul
Pawel Edelman
Cinematographer, The Pianist
“ Oliver Twist ” - dzierzgul
Edward Lachman
Cinematographer, Erin Brockovich
“ Far From Heaven ” - dzierzgul
Daniel L. Fapp
Cinematographer, The Great Escape
American cinematographer who spent the bulk of his career at Paramount (1923-1959). After two years apprenticed in the studio lab, Fapp first worked the movie camera as an assistant in 1925. By 1941, he had graduated to full director of photography at the behest of cinematographer, turned director, Ted Tetzlaff...
“ The Great Escape ” - dzierzgul
László Kovács
Cinematographer, Ghostbusters
“ Paper Moon ” - dzierzgul
Guy Green
Director, A Patch of Blue
Guy Green, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer and director who was a co-founder of the British Society of Cinematographers, was born in Frome, Somerset, England, on Guy Fawke's Day (November 5th), 1913. A devoted cinema enthusiast as a child, Green said he spent so much time watching the silent movies on the big screen...
“ Great Expectations ” - dzierzgul
Georg Krause
Cinematographer, Paths of Glory
“ Paths of Glory ” - dzierzgul
Lee Garmes
Cinematographer, Scarface
One of the most innovative of pioneer cameramen, Lee Garmes started his career on the East Coast with the New York Motion Picture Company, but was soon persuaded by the director Thomas H. Ince to join him in Hollywood. Garmes quickly climbed his way up the ladder, from painter's assistant to prop boy (future director Henry Hathaway shared the same duties at 'Inceville')...
“ Scarface ” - dzierzgul
Eugen Schüfftan
Cinematographer, The Hustler
Eugen Schüfftan moved from his motherland, Germany, to France in 1933 to escape the rising Nazi movement. He moved to the US in 1940 and became a member of Local 644, the East Coast cinematographers chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). He invented the Schüfftan...
“ Les yeux sans visage ” - dzierzgul
Karl Struss
Cinematographer, The Great Dictator
Oscar-winning cinematographer Karl Struss was born on November 30, 1886, in New York City. He became a professional photographer after studying photography with Clarence H. White and became part of the group associated with the great photographer Alfred Stieglitz. His photographs, which he characterized as "pictorial" rather than "fashion"...
“ The Great Dictator ” - dzierzgul
Chris Menges
Cinematographer, The Reader
“ The Pledge ” - dzierzgul