The skills of a cinematographer


☞ Cinematic narrative is not merely the concern of the director and script writer. All persons involved in making the film are involved in it, in varying degrees. The role of the cinematographer in the creation if narrative in cinema is still under-recognised. In the following article, the Indian cinematographer, Rajiv Menon, discusses the art and craft of cinematography. He argues that an important aspect of cinematography is the cinematographer’s sensitivity to the film’s narrative. In this regard, the chinematographer’s art is quite different from that of the still photographer, where awareness of narrative, quite naturally, is not a prime consideration.

Ace cinematographer and filmmaker Rajiv Menon shares some tips on what makes for good cinematography and screenwriting.

❝The technical aspects related to lens, lighting and composition are similar to what a still photographer would require, but the skill of a cinematographer lies in using all the available tools for a narrative format and he contributes to the story-telling process. So one of the most important things you must have is the passion for the story you are telling. Lighting, lens and taking pictures won’t necessarily help in becoming a successful cinematographer because beyond these things one has to realise he/she is part of a team that is telling a story.

A basic knowledge of the still camera is very important and the person must like seeing things through the lens. Another requisite skill for a cinematographer is communication as the story has to reach a large number of people who have varying capacities of understanding. It’s very important he/she convey things with clarity. A cinematographer has to keep his thirst for learning alive and keep learning about the latest trends in the business. There is so much to learn in terms of light and composition. One must try to develop ‘new skills for new opportunities’ to keep up with changing trends and be fearless to succeed.❞

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