Top 179 Quotes & Sayings by Famous Cinematographers

Explore popular quotes by famous cinematographers.
I like to say that lighting is about taking the light away. I often like to use the shadows more than the light.
The greatest directors are the greatest users. They use people's talents to tell the story that they want to tell.
A cinematographer is a visual psychiatrist, moving an audience... making them think the way you want them to think, painting pictures in the dark. — © Gordon Willis
A cinematographer is a visual psychiatrist, moving an audience... making them think the way you want them to think, painting pictures in the dark.
We make movies about remarkable people like President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives in "The Island President" and Al Gore in the film, who get up every day and are driven in an almost inhuman way to make a change in a problem that they see in the world and shine truth into a very dark arena where bad actors try to lie to the American public to gain profits for fossil fuel companies. To us, that's a natural drama. And that's primarily where we work - character-based films that we hope will bring issues to life through their stories.
I met Michael Snow and Stan Brakhage the second day after I arrived, you know. I had never seen or heard of Brakhage. For me, it was a revolution, because I was well educated in film, but American-style experimental film was known to me in the abstract, and I had seen practically nothing. I had seen a film then that Noël Burch had found and was distributing called Echoes of Silence. It was a beautiful film, three hours long. It goes forever and it was in black and white, very grainy, and I saw that film and I was not New Wave. It was really a new concept of cinema.
I think the point of cinematography, of what we do, is intimacy. Is intent, is the balance between the familiar and the dream, it is being subjective and objective, it is being engaged and yet standing back and noticing something that perhaps other people didn’t notice before, or celebrating something that you feel is beautiful or valid, or true or engaging in some way.
Male crews know that women cinematographers are here to stay, and there will be more of us. If they're professionals, they behave as such.
I think people just see cinematography as being about photography and innovative shots and beautiful lighting. We all want our movies to look great visually, to be beguiling and enticing, but I think that what really defines a great cinematographer is one who loves story.
We are writing stories with light and darkness, motion and colors. It is a language with its own vocabulary and unlimited possibilities for expressing our inner thoughts and feelings.
Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft.
I have learned there is a gift wrapped inside of every adversity and, if you have faith and hope, you can lose everything and still survive.
Faith in your own powers and confidence in your individual methods are essential to success.
I'm a big fan of fiction film where you have a story and you have to transform that into a visual language, basically working with actors and also transforming that into how you pronounce that in the visual language of the shots, the construction of the shots and the lighting. All of that appealed to me from the beginning of my career at the university. When I graduated from the university, I wanted to deal mainly with that, with the visual aspect of the movie.
Equipment makes my job easier, but it doesn't affect my style.
What’s really important is storytelling. None of it matters if it doesn’t support the story. — © Wally Pfister
What’s really important is storytelling. None of it matters if it doesn’t support the story.
Tolerance of Cruelty in any form is a degraded state of mind and soul. When we freely allow the massacre and prolonged torture of defenseless creatures, it increases our receptivity to human cruelty and war and steals our humanity, peace and soul. Very little speeds and greases your way to Hell, like animal cruelty.
The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn't move, kick it until it does.
I am certain that if I have any merit, it is knowing how to make good use of my eyes, to guide the camera in its task of capturing not only colors, lights and shadows, but the movement of life itself.
You don't want to have to chase the action. Get yourself in the right place and the action comes to you.
Whatever it is that makes you the person you are - that's what I love. All of it.
Hayden [Sterling] told me that he was thrilled about the way he moved around the set, that wherever he would go, there would be lighting. He didn't think about his marks because they were set in the only places he could move.
Zooms are lazy closeups. And too many people hang their hats on video assist; it's a way to avoid too much. Video assist helps people dissociate from the scene that they are directing. Pretty soon the director will be directing all the way from his apartment.
I don't really like directing. I've had a good relationship with actors, but I can do what I do and back off. I don't want that much romancing. I don't want them to call me up at two in the morning saying, 'I don't know who I am.
The lack of perfection, that's the hardest quality of all, because you're fighting your instincts. You're trained to want to do things perfectly.
These days that wouldn't happen - waiting for the light to be exactly right. Because it takes time and time is money. And with these big productions with expensive actors, you just don't have the time to get every shot exactly right.
Jack [Nicholson] really knows about the camera. He's one of the directors who likes to play with the camera. He'll change things around, play with lighting, things like that. He'll even spend hours on the set-up for an insert shot. He's an interested person who gets involved in all the aspects of the films he is making.
I wasn't trying to be different; I just did what I liked. Don't misunderstand when I say I really had no particular DP I was aspiring to be. I really fell in love with the movies as I was growing up, and I must say, I was emulating things that I saw others doing, that’s how you learn, but you soon have to push past that, and do things that you feel are right… or better.
[I] love 'Munich', man. That's a very underappreciated film.
I think the point of cinematography, of what we do, is intimacy.
You don't have to shoot the film in the first couple days of principal photography.
Sometimes I feel ashamed at my lack of interest in all the new techniques of modern filmmaking, but I prefer to work with as little equipment as possible. If I have a good lens and a steady camera, that's all I need.
For me, movies should be visual. If you want dialogue, you should read a book.
You can't blame a victim for being under the influence when there is a violent act [happening to them]. These are two separate things.
I always start a movie by being very firm and very hard and very, very serious, and then I can relax a little more once I've gained respect. That's part of the job - you have to earn the respect of your crew.
I think that the audience should not be able to tell if it is real or not real - it should be an enhanced version of reality, or an artistic view of reality, that captures not only what is physically there, but what is not visible - the mood.
Those who skim over the surface in a hit-or-miss fashion not only forfeit the best returns on their efforts, but are ever barred from the keen pleasure of seeing beauty in the results of their labor.
It seems like we're not learning as a community, as a society.
There's something almost impossible about the criminal justice system when it comes to sexual assault cases. It immediately sets up a trial, where witnesses may have been drunk or maybe there were no witnesses and maybe there's no evidence.
We see ourselves as filmmakers and as storytellers. We want to make films that move people emotionally. The most effective thing that cinema can do is get into people's hearts and have them see a new perspective on life - step inside someone else's shoes and mind for 90 minutes and experience the world in that way.
I don't like to be in front of the camera - my place is behind the camera. — © Vilmos Zsigmond
I don't like to be in front of the camera - my place is behind the camera.
In the '60s when I started to see everything I could see, you could see pretty much everything which was still available from the '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, and therefore I had an education which was really large and vast in different cinema. That's probably the reason I did not fall for the New Wave. It's really the love of the movies that made me want to become a cameraperson, definitely. I was really a film buff.
If you take a sophisticated idea, reduce it to the simplest possible terms so that it’s accessible to everybody, and don’t get simple mixed up with simplistic, it’s how you mount and present something that makes it engaging.
You used to feed a piece of celluloid into an editor. [Digital] is not expensive and that is an advantage, but I must say that I don't love it.
You can't just stick with what you know, you have to evolve.
Women are one of the most important segments of the adventure travel industry. Women make the vast majority of travel decisions in families - not only the destinations, but the activities. They are the predominant adventure travel planners.
One of my first films was Zebrahead. I remember the producer asking me, "Can you handle the big lights?" And I thought, Do I want to be sarcastic, or do I want the job? So I said, "I don't handle the big lights, I just tell big men where to put the big lights and they do it."
One day I decided to move towards documentaries or to move to more directing in documentaries at this point in my career. Why documentaries? I also love fiction. I would love to direct a fiction movie as well. But I think where I come from, reality is so interesting and has in it so many good stories to tell, this is why I'm doing that. I'm enjoying that.
'Sugarland Express' was pretty amazing.
Occasionally I do movies with other directors. I did 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' for Julian Schnabel. I did a movie with Jim Brooks ('How Do You Know'). I did a movie with Judd Apatow ('Funny People'). So I do get a chance to work with other people, which is always enjoyable, always pleasant. But still, Steven [Spielberg] makes the types of movies that I'm interested in as well.
If a girl gets assaulted, it's not because she was drunk. It's because somebody decided to assault her. — © Jon Shenk
If a girl gets assaulted, it's not because she was drunk. It's because somebody decided to assault her.
It's interesting vocalizing something that is visual.
In fact, I probably learned more about photography from studying black-and-white photography in those magazines [Look Magazine and LIFE Magazine] than I did from watching movies here. That's the truth.
There are many, many different kinds of movies and directors and styles. I don't mind that a movie looks like a movie.
The thing about film is that your eye is selective. Film isn't. You have to make film do what you want. Simply photographing something doesn't do it. You have to know how to apply light and know what it does on film.
I don't know the American photographers as well, but I admit I love Ansel Adams. His landscapes are so crisp.
There is something more to "reality" than just the tangible. There is also mood, and you cannot skip that.
You can't really micro-manage. You'll never make the movie in 52 days, if you micro-manage. If you do that, you take the creativity away from people because people just really quickly become disinterested when they're always being told how to do it.
As an actor, Sean [Penn] is brilliant. And he's really an excellent director, as well. We got along really well.
I don't think there is any advantage to digital unless it's in a case like Slumdog Millionaire, where you have to get a shot and a big bulky film camera is out of the question.
European films had art. And it was easy to make a European film. They didn't come from the studio system, they weren't shot in sound studios, and that's a good thing, because in the studio system those movies would never have had a chance. And since we were coming from Europe, it was natural for us to use that simple style. Small budgets, less equipment, that was just how it was.
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