What is cinematography? The books that inspire the craft

March 9th, 2021  |  by amaliehluthra

Cinematography is an art form in itself. It’s everything visual. It is built of the smallest of components within filmmaking, from the framing to the composition of the shot - but make the biggest impact.

In today’s article, we will take a deeper dive into cinematography and a couple of books that will immediately make you a better cinematographer.

Cinematography is an incredible skill, and like all skills - practice makes perfect.

Let’s check out the books that inspire the craft of cinematography.

What is cinematography?

Cinematography is the art of visual storytelling and photography. It’s the art of all thing visual within your film. Cinematography compromises composition, framing, colouring, positioning, camera motion, camera angles, zoom, film selection, lens choices, depth of field, exposure, and filtration.

Cinematography simply put is an art of visual storytelling.

The books that inspire the craft of cinematography

Here’s our list of the books that inspire the art form of cinematography. These books nail the craft of cinematography, immediately improving your skills.

Let’s check them out now!

The Atmosphere of Crime, 1957 by Gordon Parks

This is an old school recommendation to start with. Funnily enough, this is the same Gordon Parks who directed the movie Shaft.

Park’s book “The Atmosphere of Crime” actually was the product of Life Magazine asking Parks to illustrate articles documenting the crime happening in the USA. Parks took on the assignment travelling through New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

As he made his way through the different areas, he snapped some of the most poignant snaps you can imagine.

He used a lot of raw low light to snap these pictures, creating a series of high key snaps.

Any cinematographers and photographers out there looking to create cinematic, gritty naturally lit imagery for their next film, you must delve into “The Atmosphere of Crime”.

50+ years on and it’s still a fantastic example of raw cinematography at it’s finest.

Intimate Distance by Todd Hido

Why this book?

Well, Todd’s ability to capture the absolute beauty of a moment. He’s able to encapsulate the audience with his photography and bring out the fine detail that occurs within the frame.

It’s all of Todd Hido’s most unique and iconic images in a singular book, captivating. I found his book incredibly intriguing. I ask myself regularly, how are these images so good, how are they captivating me to the point I’m looking into the finest detail to see why that speaks volumes.

I guess that’s why his book's here. It makes you really think of how the image was composed and the factors that make it stand out.

This will teach you an incredible amount around cinematography and how you can use his compositions, use of light and set up within your next project.

Cinematography for Directors: A Guide for Creative Collaboration by Jacqueline B. Frost

Jacqueline’s book is incredible. It gives you the point of view of a director and how you can be better placed to set up shots on set.

It allows you to think like a director and a cinematographer combined to ensure you capture the scene to the best of your ability.

The other benefit of reading this book is that it allows you to better understand the cinematographer, and how you can partner with them to create exceptionally composed shots.

This book is all about the craft and collaboration, a great insight by Jacqueline B. Frost.


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