A list of 20 cinematographers and directors of photography working in the classical american film (20s to 50s)
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...
Versatile Mexico City-born cinematographer, who worked equally well with black-and-white and with colour film, and in every genre from film noir, to westerns, to musicals. Joe MacDonald served a lengthy apprenticeship, starting as assistant cameraman in the early 1920's, finally graduating to first camera operator by the beginning of the following decade...
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...
Milton R. Krasner
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...
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...
John F. Seitz
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...
'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)...
James Wong Howe
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...
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)...
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...
Arthur C. Miller
Arthur Charles Miller, the Academy Award-winning director of photography who was a master at the craft of black-and-white cinematography, was born on July 8, 1895 in Roslyn, New York, on Long Island, not far from New York City. At the age of 13 he began his apprenticeship in motion pictures, taking...
Fritz Arno Wagner
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...
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
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...
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...
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
Joseph H. August
Renowned cinematographer Joseph August began his film career not as a cameraman but as a wrangler--he was born and raised in Colorado--at Inceville, the studio begun by pioneering producer/director Thomas H. Ince
. He soon switched careers, becoming an assistant to cinematographer Ray C. Smallwood
. He shot his first film...
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'...
The favorite cinematographer of famous director Alfred Hitchcock
began working at Warner Brothers 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...
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...
William H. Daniels
Oscar-winning director of photography William Daniels was a master of black-and-white cinematographer most famous for the 21 films he shot that starred the immortal Greta Garbo
between 1926 and 1939. Among the Gabro classics he lensed were The Torrent
, Flesh and the Devil
(Garbo and home studio MGM's first crack at Leo Tolstoy
's "Anna Karenina")...
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')...