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Words of Wisdom from The Cinematographers of Our Time – Light And Shadow

By Justin Heyes on January 17th 2015

What makes a film a classic? It is not about whether it was shot in 4k on a Arri Alexa or it was shot on an 16mm Bolex. What all classic films have in common is that they convey a certain emotion. The technical aspects of cinematography can be learned by anyone, but to capture an emotion and move the audience is what real cinematographers are about. The short documentary, ‘Light & Shadow,’ reminds us that you don’t make movies; you make films.

Watch ‘Light and Shadow’

The companion documentary to Zacuto’s Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout 2012, ‘Light & Shadow’ provides words of wisdom from some of the best cinematographers of our lifetime. Cinematographers like Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan), Bruce Logan (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Conrad Hall (American Beauty) share their personal insights to questions such as “What is creativity?” or “What shapes your vision?” They talk about their perspectives on what it means to be a visual storyteller.


[REWIND: See What Movies Look Like SOOC Vs. What You See In The Final Product]

If there is something to take away from the piece, it’s creativity and passion doesn’t come from fancy gear. The gear you have does not create thought-provoking, memorable art. With the rise of digital technology art forms become increasing complex and technical. As gear becomes more affordable and information spreads, it’s becoming exponentially harder for newcomers to distinguish themselves from the sheer volume of ‘movies’ that are online these days. Newcomers aren’t better than other people with a camera just because they call themselves ‘Artists’ and feel superior to the ‘rabble’. I’ve heard people be moved by 10 second Vines. If your work has moved someone, then that piece is successful.


It seems everyone wants to be in the spotlight as a successful photographer, director or cinematographer, but what should be considered is that personal and artistic growth is more important than instant fame. Hone your skills and learn as much as you can. Don’t rely on your gear as a crutch; use it as the tool to express your vision, the way paint on a canvas is used. Talent doesn’t come in the box next to the instruction manual and warranty card; it comes from hard work and creativity.

[Via NoFilmSchool / Images Screen Captures]

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Daniel Thullen

    The last paragraph sums it up nicely. . .”Talent does not come in a box . . .it come from hard work and creativity” and passion.

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  2. Jason Boa

    A very insightful piece – everything is summed up in the words let alone the video !! Great stuff

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  3. David Hall

    Light is everything.

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  4. Matthew Saville

    “My first thought is always of light”

    – Galen Rowell

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