Illuminating thoughts by our fellow Cinematographers

Be fresh.

Approach every project as if it were your first. Be open to where it takes you.

—Thomas Ackerman ASC

Consider yourself an artist.

I never consider myself a cinematographer, I consider myself an artist. If someone asked me what I was, I would say I'm an artist first and I express myself through cinematography. That's my driving force. I feel that unless you're driven that way as a cinematographer, you're doomed to mediocre, perfunctory work.

—Elliot Davis

Be original.

When you get a brilliant idea that sounds familiar, think of a new idea.

—John Toll ASC

Go for it!

I have learned that whenever I take the biggest risks, the happier I am with the results. When I’m extremely careful about my choices and think too much, the resulting images are usually weak.

—Rodrigo Prieto ASC

Cinematography is Art

I think I've learned the most about cinematography from my study of art and my study of life. Art taught me to understand the world visually—to see things I never saw before.

—Thomas Sigel ASC

The desire to re-shoot is inevitable.

Six months after I finish shooting a movie, I look at it with a horrifying eye. 'What was I thinking of? That's so silly that I'd love to re-shoot it.' In one funny kind of way it's because of the editing; you see the rhythm and the flow of the film and you'd love to re-shoot it.

—John Seale ASC

Break the rules.

Break your own rules. Photography should be inspired, not habitual.

—Thomas Ackerman ASC

There are only two questions you need to ask yourself.

The first is: What are you going to do?

The second is: How are you going to do it?

—Fred Murphy

The relationship between a director and DP is like a marriage.

It’s like a marriage between a man and a woman. Some go easier than others, but they’re all a lot of work. You’re usually talking about two strong personalities with the same ultimate goal but maybe different ways to approach it. It’s something you just have to feel out.

Owen Roizman ASC

Change your style.

I would say that some very famous DPs stick to one style, like a very famous cook will always use the same kind of sauce-'people come to my restaurant to get the kind of food they expect.' I'm not like this. The way I work is like an actor: each time is a new part, a new period, a new country.

Benoît Delhomme