Fast Company magazine features an article on the recent film Cameraperson, a documentary self-portrait on the 25-year career of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson.
Cameraperson is “an aptly visual memoir of a cinematographer, who invites us to join her behind the camera and watch as she sets up shots and listen as she interviews people and interacts with fellow crew members.”
“While we see that Johnson is a skilled practitioner when it comes to framing a shot and working with whatever light she has, this documentary is really about using cinematography as a storytelling tool and as a way to connect with people, and what’s most interesting about Cameraperson is seeing how Johnson, while not always vocalizing it, is constantly making on the spot judgments on a variety of matters for which there are no easy answers.”
Cinematography as a Storytelling Tool
More on storytelling tools. Check out a video from No Film School on how composition and framing can help you tell great stories with your cinematography. “If you know the basics of composition and framing, telling great visual stories becomes significantly more attainable.”
storytelling through cinematography is essentially the art of visually depicting change
Article author Robert Hardy says, “One of the key pieces of information that was only briefly touched upon in this video, however, is that storytelling through cinematography is essentially the art of visually depicting change. If your characters go through a major change during the script, let the your cinematographic choices reflect that change. Let’s say that a character starts out timid, shy, terrified of the world around him. You could start with framings that minimize character size while emphasizing and enlarging the environment around him. Wide angle lenses are fantastic for this purpose. Then, as the story progresses and the character becomes more confident, your framings and lens choice begin to mimic that change. Instead of wide angles, you choose longer focal lengths that isolate your character from his foreground and background, and frame him so that he is larger or equal in the frame than the other characters around him.”
Advice for Writers
Think about what Hardy says in his example above. Start with framings that minimize character size. As the character grows and changes, choose longer focal lengths that isolate your character from his foreground and background. How would you do this on the printed page? Minimize your character, then mimic growth by moving away from wide angles. Great technique for “framing” a character’s growth.