The Top 5 Greatest Cinematographers of all Time

As the entertainment industry becomes more and more invested in completely immersive technologies, it should always be remembered that motion pictures are still primarily a visual medium. It is through the use of light and shadow, brightness and contrast, color and saturation that directors seek to carry us along with them as they convey stories that will make a lasting impression on us. Aiding them in this task are cinematographers. They must take all of the aforementioned tools and sculpt them into an experience that all involved in the project can be proud of and that the public will enjoy. We honor five of the cinematographers who stand out from their peers in this difficult task by including them in this list.

  • Roger Deakins: British born Roger Deakins is best known for his work on the films of the Coen brothers and Sam Mendes. He has received accolades from the British Society of Cinematographers as well as multiple Academy Award nominations. His movies include: The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, O Brother, Where Art Thou? A Beautiful Mind, True Grit and many others.
  • Robert Burks: Best known for his collaborative work with Alfred Hitchcock, Burks is often referred to as a chameleon for his ability to adapt to any director with which he worked. Some of Cinematographers_The_Birds_original_posterhis works include Strangers on a Train (1951), The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), The Music Man (1962), Vertigo (1958), the Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964).
  • Jack Cardiff: Director Michael Powell once described British born Cardiff as “the best colour cameraman in the world” (Cardiff’s illustrious career began in the silent era.) His resume includes the movies Black Narcissus (1947), War and Peace (1956), Fanny (1961), The Red Shoes (1948), Ghost Story (1981) and many others.
  • Janusz Kaminski: Kaminski is best known for his partnership with Steven Spielberg and has been a cinematographer since 1993. He has won the Academy Award for his work on Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) and for Saving Private Ryan (1998). His other works include Amistad (1997), I. Artificial Intelligence and many others.
  • Vilmos Zsigmond: Zsigmond fled Hungary in 1956 and began his career in the 1970s. He is known for his use of natural light and vivid color. His works include The Long Goodbye (1973 ), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977 ), The Deer Hunter (1978), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) and many others.

We know that this list is debatable and many greats are not included here but these are cinematographers who we feel deserve a special mention for elevating the art of movie making. Their works are a part of posterity. They are noted for combining the latest technologies of the time with their own natural knowledge of the medium.