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Is Photography similar to Cinematography


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#1 Ivan Chertov

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:28 PM

Is photography similar to cinematography? Why do you think so?
And if someone is a good photographer does it mean that he's a good cinematographer? Or the opposite?
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#2 gouez

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:41 PM

Is photography similar to cinematography? Why do you think so?
And if someone is a good photographer does it mean that he's a good cinematographer? Or the opposite?


This is interesting. When I decided to enroll in film school, I actually thought that if you're able to handle cinematography, photography should be easy. I was wrong, cinematography and photography are different languages.

In cinematography you look for an image that builds a mood to the story, and perhaps a good image in cinematography is actually useless in photography.

Anton Corbijn is a fantastic photographer but when he does cinematography he doesn't do narrative work(he does music videos), so I don't know how good he would be lighting a narrative.
interesting post.
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#3 Ivan Chertov

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:20 PM

I think that in both cases the composition must be perfect.
....
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#4 Filip Plesha

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:42 PM

If you are trying to be an artist in it, then its different, becuase the languages are different.
A good photographer may not be a good cinematographer and vice versa.

If you want just to be just technical about it (how to expose film, how to print it, how to be creative in the technical sense etc etc.) then its very similar, exept that you have more technical choices in photography, because you don't have to multiply everything by thousands of feet.

So if you are asking about handling the equipment in order just to get properly exposed images, then
you can start with photography, and go onto cinematography because both follow the same laws, a motion picture cameras i like a SLR with fixed exposure time or at least limited range of exposure times.

But if you would like to be more than just an operator, someone that can serve as a cinematographer, a man that tells a story through images, then photography won't help you that much
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#5 Matt Irwin

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:18 PM

I think that cinematography and photography are only similar in "technical theory". Both a DP and a photographer have to think about lighting, composition, aperture, film stocks, processing, etc; however, that is where the similarities end. When it comes to the practical execution of lighting and framing as well as the technical terminology, it's two completely different dimensions.

My girlfriend is a fine art photographer and when we get into conversations about shooting, we often look at eachother like the other one is crazy. (yeah, were both total dorks in our respective fields) When I think about framing, I think in rectangular "do-it-in-camera" terms. When she thinks about framing, the's thinking square (medium format) and sometimes with cropping in mind. When I started taking pictures as a kid, I would compose and expose for a single frame. Nowadays when I take stills, I often compose and shoot through a roll as I would if I was shooting motion.
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#6 Daniel Madsen

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 04:50 PM

In cinematography time and space are manipulated to the facilitate the telling of a story, this can't be done with photography.


There are also techniques and rules to manipulating time and space which is where continuity comes into play. A photographer might tell a great story using a picture but as a DP your working in another dimension.??.the fourth dimension ( :
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#7 Matt Pacini

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:10 PM

They're very different skills, however, the technical aspect of it transfers to both disciplines (i.e.; knowing how lenses behave,exposure, depth of field, etc.)

I had an incredibly good still photographer with 25 years+ experience be my "co-DP" on my first film, and while he definitely saved my ass as far as getting good exposures, etc., we had many arguments about framing and camera movement, me wanting to dolly instead of zoom, etc.

Being good at one, does not make you good at the other.

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#8 Andrew Alward

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 06:33 PM

In my opinion, they are extremely similar, and other ways, they are different. I like to say I'm an ametuer photographer. I have been taking stills for a while now, and I love it. I also love cinematography. I beleive that still photography and cinematography are very similar, but a "Photographer" is not the same as a "Cinematographer."

The "principles" of creating an image, I believe, are very similar between the two. However, still photography is more manupulative to achieve a desired look. Technically, you can achieve the same look in a still image, than you can in motion pictures, but is extremely difficult. I believe, that when creating depth and texture in an image, there is no difference between the two. However, one can go into MUCH more detail on the "feel" of an image in cinematography. Becuase, even though you have single frames in cinematography, the feel of the movie is defined over a series of images. More frames equals more detail to a scene, thus defining part of the art of cinematography.

Still photography has one frame to describe a story, cinematography uses many frames to tell the story. In that respect, they are different, and equally difficult. Also, just becuase someone has been a still photographer for 20 years, doesn't mean they are a good cinematographer. There are many aspects of cinematography besides lighting, that can make it good or bad, which can't be learned doing still photography. Like being a leader of a crew, and using film-making tools to one's advantage on achieving a look.

I think that still photography is very good practice for the cinematographer, both technically and artistically. I think that it teaches good composition, and hones one's skill on gaining a desired "look", which is extremely important. So, I say, a cinematographer that understands the art of still photography, will benefit greatly from it. However, one that doesn't understand the art of still photography, doesn't mean that he or she can't be great at what they do.

Edited by Tinman84, 07 February 2006 - 06:35 PM.

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#9 Greg Gross

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 05:37 PM

If your daughter is getting married,normally you do not look through the yellow pages
to find a cinematographer to photograph her wedding(exception being millonares). If you
are Mr. Copolla you do not interview professional photographers(generally now)to be DP
of your production. I think the basic tools are very different but the photographic principles
are the same. I'm just can't believe how many student cinematographers or aspiring cinem-
aphotographers,come on line and ask questions about dop,focal length,pushing&pulling film.
All of these are really basic principles of photography. Of course some of the effects you do
with the negative in post-production are very different to what a photographer generally does.
Obviously the still camera and the motion picture camera have many differences and as a stu-
dent cinematographer I often get caught in that trap. I disagree here though with many who
think the lighting techniques are different. I just do not see that,especially in good portraiture
where you light for 3-D effect,produce modeling,emphasize texture etc. . To be honest I do not
look at lighting as being that hard. I do know that you can overlight the hell out of any subject
if you are not careful. I prefer starting with just the key- 1.where am I going?,2.how am I go-
ing to get there? If I can't justify any particular light,than I subtract it. Now there is the element
of what the director visualizes,I look at that as a challenge and a chance for growth,for me to de-
velop art,craft. Photographers probably are more skilled at paying attention to the frame and to
extraneous light. I have such a great respect of prime lenses because I was taught by an old ger-
man photographer to take the camera to the subject. I'm disciplined to primes in that regard. If
anyone has access to "Reflections" take a look at the chapter where Mr. Owen Roizman ASC dem-
onstrates the use of the motion picture camera for advertising. I believe he shot subjects with pr-
imes 50,100 and the Panaflex Millenium camera. Anyway its a very good section to read if you get
a chance. I have the greatest respect for our professional cinematographers in regards to photogr-
aphy principles. You know I think it depends on the individual photographer that has passion for cin-
ematography. Then I think art,craft,technical principles come in to play. Obviousy I could not walk
on a set and start doing what David Mullen ASC has been doing for many years. I think the individual
must grow with experience,skills,art,craft are honed that way. How many cinematographers here on
forum would like to shoot a 360 shot wedding for me this saturday at noon(I'll stay home and watch
a good film)? I'm speaking now of a professional shoot,not a snapshot deal.

Greg Gross
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#10 Andrew Alward

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 11:34 AM

Just incase you didn't know, Theasc.com has an online photo exhibit of many famous cinematographers. To me, it's not very suprising to find their still images look similar to their motion pictures.

Here's a link to te exhibit:
http://www.efilm.com...to_exhibit.html
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#11 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 04:19 PM

I have a few freinds in fashion photography.

Honestly they don't have the depth of knowledge I do about lighting. They don't much study the nature or mechanics of light. They are generally working with large strobes long as they get a good burst they are happy.

What they do well though is design. I would like to develop as good an eye for design and color schemes.

Because they are only taking one picture they can often do some interesting composition that you generally cannot do in cinematography.

Also their knowledge of film formats and chemistry. I don't often get to do much photochemical manipulation but my photo friends do it all the time. They know more than I do about development chemistry and technique.
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#12 Greg Gross

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Posted 10 February 2006 - 05:16 PM

I enjoyed your posts very much. I use the same lighting methods,same lights(Arri) as cinematog-
raphers with digital photography(Canon EOS-1,D,Mark II). I am a student cinematographer.I do not
use much flash with diigital shoots as I like the creative look I get by managing white balance.


Greg Gross
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#13 dd3stp233

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 08:42 AM

Historically, photography existed for over half a century before motion pictures were developed. The art of cinematography grew out of photography. The first motion pictures were static shots(with no stories) of like a train pulling into a station or people walking by. Over time different camera moves were developed in relation to the inclusion of other elements like story and later music. These further separated photography and cinematography from each other.
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