Cinematography is something of an underrated artform. When many folks go to the movies, they may note that the cinematography was swell, but odds are the person behind that cinematography goes unrecognized by the general public, save for a speech at Academy Awards. But cinephiles with a passion for celebrating filmmaking know full well it’s a collaborative medium, and while a few directors serve as their own cinematographers, for most movies the visual impact is the result of a collaboration between the film’s director, cinematographer, production designer, etc., with the director and cinematographer forming a specific bond to settle on how the film will ultimately be presented to audiences.
When digital photography first began to come to prominence, there was suddenly a boom of different and exciting kinds of cinematography going on. Some filmmakers embraced the advantages of digital, while others decried it as a second tier format. At the end of the day, the camera is simply one of many tools used to craft the visual look of a film, and I’d argue that now, more than ever, is an exciting time for the craft of cinematography.
There are a number of cinematographers churning out noteworthy work, but for the purposes of this here article, I’ve settled on an arbitrary cap of 20. The directors of photography that make up this list represent some of the most exciting cinematographers working today, made all the more fascinating by the fact that their approaches to the craft differ so wildly. But all are doing truly phenomenal work in the realm of filmmaking, and this is a chance to turn the spotlight on their respective talents.
So without further ado, in no particular order, here are the 20 most exciting cinematographers working today.