A Plea to Preserving the Art of Cinematography

Director of Photography

Photo by The Film Training Company

Before color and sound we told stories with pictures.  Silent films gave birth to painting with light, the art of the cinematographer.  Within the first decades of early cinema a marvelous language of imagery was developed that directed the viewers eye, created illusion and stirred emotion.  From those early days to today the cinematographer has created unforgettable imagery that entertained film audiences around the world.

Unfortunately, after a century of cinema the art of cinematography is threatened by the rush of technological change and the ease of digital capture.  For years cinematographers have reproduced the human experience through the use of tripods, dollies, lights and lenses to create a moving story.  Smaller digital cameras brought about hand held unsteady imagery that has become part of the lexicon but suffers by calling attention to the camera that was traditionally  invisible.  Highly sensitive sensor chips that can shoot by starlight have brought about the erroneous conclusion by some producers that you don’t need to light anymore as if the art of lighting amounts to merely obtaining an exposure.  The sheer volume of content that we are exposed to each day dulls the sensibilities and generates a dummying down of image evaluation and an acceptance of the lackluster.  Many so called high definition products of today (for example) have actually less definition than the traditional medium of motion picture film.

The art of Cinematography

photo by: Martin Kingsley

With all this change there is a pressing need to preserve the hard won craft that has gone into making great pictures with film and digital.  Camerawork is so much more than so called “product acquisition.”  Cinematography is an art form and the foundation of the magic we call the movies.

The Film Training Company is a non profit organization that seeks to preserve and share the insights of the worlds leading cinematographers in unique seminars held around the world.  The opportunity to see a lighting demonstration by one of the great master cinematographers is not to be missed.  These artists who dance with sun and shade heighten our appreciation and understanding of the radiant beauty that is the motion picture.

The Film Training Company’s next event will be held in Rochester New York hosted by the Kodak Corporation on April 25-27th 2011.  I highly recommend this event to aspiring and professional cinematographers as well as anyone who desires to learn about this fascinating art form.  Details can be found at

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