The Art of Motion Picture Photography

Film making is a complex and intricate art. The components required to successfully create a full length feature film are numerous and tend to vary from film to film. An average film production crew consists of Script Writer(s), Producer(s), a Director, Camera Operator(s), a Cinematographer, an Editor, a Casting Director, a set Designer, a Costume Designer, Sound Department, Music Department, a Hair and Makeup team, as well as a number of actors and actresses.

Stanley Kubrick shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick and crew, shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey

The history of film dates back to the early 1890’s, with the first ever paid exhibition having been screened to the public by the Lumier Brothers in 1895 at Le Grand Café, Paris. This 30 second clip depicted a train pulling into a station and it was shot at just the right angle to make it appear as if the train was coming towards the audience. Exciting stuff, right? In today’s time, it may seem about as enthralling as watching your moustache grow, but a century ago this was pretty spectacular stuff. Often covering their eyes during the screening, audiences were terrified and literally believed that the train was going to fly right out of the frame and run over them!

L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a train at La Ciotat)

L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a train at La Ciotat)

The Lumiere Brothers

The Lumiere Brothers

During this era, cinematographers (Also known as Directors of Photography), were the sole creators of the entire film production on set. There was little to no cinematic technique, usually no camera movement, and flat compositions reminiscent of the stage. Today, Cinematography is a broad combination of artistic techniques and camera technologies, which includes everything from aspect ratio, framing, lighting, camera movement to lens, focal length, and even the film/ tape stock or video/ digital storage devices used.

Early Film making: A scene from the silent film "A Trip to the Moon" (1902) by Georges Méliès.

Early Film making: A scene from the silent film “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) by Georges Méliès.

Award winning Steven Spielberg film E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), received worldwide praise for its cinematography.

Award winning Steven Spielberg film E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), received worldwide praise for its cinematography.

As a self-proclaimed film aficionado, my tempestuous romance with film began during the mid to late 1990’s. This was a time when films like Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction and Silence of the Lambs, quite rapidly grew in popularity.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

I found myself hooked on the action, the horror, the suspense. This was my passion. I craved the thrill of i t. It was only in 2004 that I discovered the beauty of film as art. The spell-bindingly whimsical tale of Amélie, a Parisian waitress with a vividly overactive imagination, caught my eye as well as my heart. Besides a stellar performance by the lovely Audrey Tautou, the creative use of lighting, clever camera angles and signature close-up scenes, made this a truly memorable cinematic experience for me. This is where my love of cinematography and indie/ art films began.

So with that said, here is a list of some of my cinematographic favorites.

Amelie (2001) – Bruno Delbonnel

Audrey Tautou as Amelie

Audrey Tautou as Amelie

Amelie

Amelie

The secret life of Walter Mitty (2013) – Stuart Dryburgh

Sean Penn in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Sean Penn in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

Titanic (1997) – Russel Carpenter

Exquisite lighting from a scene in Titanic

Exquisite lighting from a scene in Titanic

           Titanic

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – Anthony Dod Mantle

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire-Latika sees Jamal

Slumdog Millionaire-Latika sees Jamal

A.I (2001) – Janusz Kaminski

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – Eric Gautier

Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries

Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries

Interview with the vampire (1994) – Philippe Rousselot

interview1

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Inception (2010) – Wally Pfister

Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Inception

Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Inception

Marion Cotilard in Inception

Marion Cotillard in Inception

Ellen Page and Leonardo Dicaprio in Inception

Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

Black Swan (2010) – Matthew Libatique

Requiem for a dream (2000) – Matthew Libatique

    

Life of Pi (2012) – Claudio Miranda

Life of Pi.2

Life of Pi

Django Unchained (2012) – Robert Richardson

Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Robert Richardson

Road to perdition (2002) – Conrad Hall

American Beauty (1999) – Conrad Hall

Reservoir Dogs (1992) – Andrzej Sekula

American Psycho (2000) – Andrzej Sekula

Pulp Fiction (1994) – Andrzej Sekula

Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Tak Fujimoto

The Sixth Sense (1999) – Tak Fujimoto

The Shining  (1980)- John Alcott

Barry Lyndon  (1975)- John Alcott

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) – Dion Beebe

Equilibrium (2002) – Dion Beebe

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Robert Yeoman

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – Robert Yeoman

The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – Robert Yeoman

The Grand Budapest Hotel  (2014) – Robert Yeoman

Gangs of New York (2002) – Michael Ballhaus

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Michael Ballhaus

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (2004) – Ellen Kuras

A Clockwork Orange (1971)- John Alcott

Pictures and Words

War and Peace: 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir offers a flower to soldiers during the Pentagon anti-war protest in 1967.

War and Peace: 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir offers a flower to soldiers during the Pentagon anti-war protest in 1967.

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – Marc Riboud

In 1967 during the Pentagon anti-war protests, French photographer Marc Riboud captured a memorable image that would forever be known as an iconic symbol for the Flower Power movement in America. Often described as “A gauzy juxtaposition of armed forces and flower child innocence”, this photograph tells the story of a 17 year old girl who offered a daisy to bayonet wielding soldiers in a quest to stop the war. Her efforts were not in vain, it seems, as her innocent act of kindness began to speak to the soldiers. There were still, however, 681 one protesters arrested that day and dozens beaten, as they were pushed off the Pentagon’s steps.

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Every now and then though, it’s possible to come across something so indescribably moving that no words could rightly do it justice. It could be the picture of the weeping face of an innocent child, or a watercolor painting of boats resting on the shores of the French Riviera. It could simply even be the abstract mixture of color in an oil based painting. What is it about this image of a girl with a flower in a time of war, that speaks to us so deeply? I believe that this picture is a window into the true nature of humanity. Good versus evil. Innocence versus innocence lost. It is a reflection of a reminder of our forgotten youth. This photograph- the idea of it, what it symbolizes- is so much more than that.

100,000 Monks in prayer for a better world

100,000 Monks in prayer for a better world

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Often we find that the way we see things affects our inner being. That strong emotional response influenced by a connection felt in our great proverbial heart is utterly rewarding. Quite recently I found myself searching for this undeniable connection to something real and beautiful. Not mainstream commercial beauty, nor a simple beauty to the eye, but an honest beauty to the heart and soul. With the help of my trusty friend Google, a good cup of herbal tea and a heart-melting collection of pictures compiled by Maia McCann on Distractify (Please check out her link at the ende of this page), I was able to find what I needed. Of course, there were other sources and other images that moved me, but today I’d like to share just a few of my favorite images with you, along with some wise (and quite suitable) quotes.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 Martin Luther King Jr.

3 Weeks old infant with albinism snuggles up to his cousin for a snooze.

3 Weeks old infant with albinism snuggles up to his cousin for a snooze.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Nelson Mandela
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“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

Albert Schweitzer

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“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”

Chief Joseph

Supporters celebrate as Minnesota legalizes gay marriage.

Supporters celebrate as Minnesota legalizes gay marriage.


Edit: Here are some inspiring pictures that were taken of strong women that changed history. This simply made me smile with pride. Please check out the link to the source below.

Women boxing on a roof in L.A in 1933

Women boxing on a roof in L.A in 1933

Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, despite attempts by the marathon organizer to stop her. [1967]

Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, despite attempts by the marathon organizer to stop her. [1967]

Volunteers learn how to fight fires at Pearl Harbor [c. 1941 - 1945]

Volunteers learn how to fight fires at Pearl Harbor [c. 1941 – 1945]

A Lockheed employee working on a P-38 Lightning [Burbank, California, 1944]

A Lockheed employee working on a P-38 Lightning [Burbank, California, 1944]

Sarla Thakral, 21 years old, the first Indian woman to earn a pilot license. [1936]

Sarla Thakral, 21 years old, the first Indian woman to earn a pilot license. [1936]

Photograph of a samurai warrior. [c. late 1800s]

Photograph of a samurai warrior. [c. late 1800s]

I’d like to thank Distractify for this wonderful compilation of pictures. Here are the links as promised.

http://news.distractify.com/people/complex-humans/?v=1

http://news.distractify.com/people/powerful-photos-of-women/?v=1