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8 Female Cinematographers You Should Know About

8 Female Cinematographers You Should Know About

The statistics are disheartening. In the last five years, women accounted for just 3% of the cinematographers among the 250 top-grossing films. No female DP has ever been nominated for an Academy Award. We recently published a first-person story from Elle Schneider, director, cinematographer and co-founder of the Digital Bolex cinema camera, in which she talked about why there aren’t more female cinematographers and why we need to change that.

But the news isn’t entirely depressing. Female cinematographers are beginning to make inroads and these eight in particular have been making an indelible mark in the field. Below we highlight eight female cinematographers you should know about (in alphabetical order):

READ MORE: There Aren’t Enough Women Cinematographers and That Needs to Change

Maryse Alberti:  Not one to shy from difficult or political subject matter, Alberti has established herself in both the documentary and the narrative worlds. Since receiving Sundance Film Festival Best Cinematography honors for documentaries "H-2 Worker" in 1990 and "Crumb" in 1995, Alberti began a long-time collaboration with Alex Gibney, on films including "We Steal Secrets," "The Armstrong Lie" and "Taxi to the Dark Side," which won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary. She has also worked with indie auteurs Todd Haynes ("Poison," "Velvet Goldmine"), Todd Solondz ("Happiness") and Darren Aronofsky ("The Wrestler"). Alberti is currently shooting "Freehold," starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, with director Peter Sollett.

Autumn Durald: After shooting a handful of commercials, music videos and shorts, including several for Gia Coppola, Durald was selected to shoot Coppola’s feature directorial debut, "Palo Alto," starring Emma Roberts and James Franco. Her latest project is "One & Two" for Andrew Droz Palermo. Though she’s just starting out her career, she’s already established herself as a cinematographer to watch. Read our interview with Durald here.

Ellen KurasWhen you mention the dearth of female cinematographers, undoubtedly someone will toss out Kuras’ name – and with good reason. The Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated Kuras was the unprecedented three-time winner of the Best Dramatic Cinematography award at Sundance for "Swoon," "Angela" and "Personal Velocity." She also earned cult status with her work on Michel Gondry’s "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Be Kind Rewind."

Reed MoranoSince filming the Oscar-nominated "Frozen River" Morano has shot a string of films which have premiered at Sundance, including, most recently, "The Skeleton Twins" and "War Story." In 2013, Morano was invited to become a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, making her one of only 11 women out of approximately 339 active members in the organization (per her web site). Last year also saw the release of "Kill Your Darlings," and "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete," which Morano shot for directors John Krokidas and George Tillman, Jr., respectively. On the TV side, she shot the first season of HBO’s "Looking."

READ MORE: "Palo Alto" DP Autumn Durald on Being a Female Cinematographer

Rachel Morrison: With feature credits including "Little Accidents," which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and "Fruitvale Station," which won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Morrison has earned a reputation for crafting haunting images that tap into the emotional core. Though she primarily focuses on narrative films, Morrison received an Emmy nomination for Showtime’s "Riker’s High," a documentary about a high school within the Riker’s Island prison system. Most recently, she shot "Cake," starring Jennifer
Aniston, Anna Kendrick and Sam Worthington for director Daniel Barnz.

Tami Reiker:  Award-winning cinematographer Tami Reiker, ASC made history by becoming the first woman to win an American Society of Cinematographers award. In 2004, she took home the ASC Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography Award for her work on the HBO pilot, "Carnivalé." Earlier in her career, she worked with directors such as Miguel Arteta ("Getting On" pilot), Lisa Cholodenko ("High Art") and Peter Hedges ("Pieces of April). Reiker recently shot "Beyond the Lights," starring Minnie Driver, Danny Glover and newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw, with director Gina Prince-Bythewood (for whom she previously shot HBO’s "Disappearing Acts"). Read our interview with Reiker here.
Nancy Schreiber: Having come up through the ranks as an electrician and a gaffer, Schreiber established herself as a DP working alongside directors such as Michael Lehmann, Neil LaBute and Joe Berlinger. She was voted into the American Society of Cinematographers over a decade ago, becoming the fourth female in the organization’s history. Most recently, Schreiber shot Robert B. Weide’s documentary on Woody Allen, "Fugly!," and "A Short History of Decay."

Sandy Sissel: Sandy Sissel broke barriers for women in the field of cinematography. Having started out as a cinematographer at NBC and ABC where she received two Emmy awards on "Her Majesty’s Britannia" and coverage of the war in Vietnam, Sissel shot countless segments for ABC’s "20/20," "Saturday Night Live" and "60 Minutes" during the 1970s and ’80s. She transitioned seamlessly to film, serving as the DP on the Oscar-nominated "Salaam Bombay." Over the years, she has worked on numerous Oscar and Emmy-winning documentaries including "Jane Goodall: Chimps So Like Us," "Chisolm 72," "Free Angela" and "Before Stonewall," as well as narrative features including Tyler Perry’s "Meet the Brown’s" and Wes Craven’s "The People Under the Stairs."

Mandy Walker: After starting out as a camera operator, Walker moved on to cinematography, working on documentary shorts before becoming a DP on films such as "Lantana" and "Shattered Glass." Her work on John Curran’s "Tracks," starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver, has been widely praised. She recently completed "Jane Got a Gun," starring Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor, for director Gavin O’Connor. She’s currently shooting "Truth," starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford and Elisabeth Moss for director James Vanderbilt.

READ MORE: "Palo Alto" Cinematographer Autumn Durald on Being a Female Cinematographer

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Comments

David Bryan

You should add the very talented Polly Morgan to the list.

Cristina Angélica Bottini

Tengo una historia que se está viralizando en la web, es la historia de una prostituta, y busco quien quiera financiarla y llevarla al cine.

jo

Charlotte Bruus Christensen should be here for her work on The Hunt and Far from the Madding Crowd

Annette Cyr

Looking for ways to find talented dp for my indie short. Suggestions and video trailers welcome. Shooting in San Diego 4-29-May 6. Please email for details. Thanks

Chelsea Fung

Great list! Hope this gets longer and longer :) #GirlPower

INDIE GUY

What about Hilary Spera? She’s kicking ass in features and documentary. Wonderfully talented, and a great person to boot.

Govinda Angulo

To Rob Lazovic…why do you have to turn this into what women and men can and can not do through the arts?
Women and men acheive outstanding imagery regardless.

Dmitriy Mulenko /mulenko.com

pity that woman DP has never been nominated for an Oscar. But who knows, today’s Academy Award can change everything)

Jim

You should also include Uta Briesewitz. She’s awesome.

Anonymous

"These DPs aren’t worth paying attention to simply because they’re women…" stopped reading here.

Andre Guttfreund

Correct name for above

André Guttfreund

Any Latina or bi lingual DPs?

lisa osborne

i would also add alice brooks. she’s especially good at capturing motion and dancing.

Lisa Leonard

That’s an impressive list but there are more than just 8 women doing amazing things behind the camera. My contribution would be Magdalena Gorka who is a remarkably talented cinematographer!! (Paranormal Activity 3, Jack Strong, Viral). She should be on the next list!!

Dany

This list is missing the incredibly talented Maya Bankovic

Claire

This is a great list. Can you please make a list like this for female composers as well?

bear

Caroline Champetier (she shot Holy Motors) is also a great DP. And it’s "Sandi Sissel," with an i. Thanks for the list!

Lucas Kao

If you are looking for Europe Based female DP, I can recommend these three:

Kirstin McMahon
Annika Summerson
Yoliswa Gartig who shot Shell

isaac rubio

I think we should keep an eye on Hilda Mercado…
Shooting in Mexico, Middle East and USA.

Ana Paula Flores Montiel

And Sally Potter…

wonderwallflower

Yes! Thanks for cluing me into the world of cinematographers, it’s a profession I had taken for granted and I’d never noticed that it’s a "man’s job" for whatever reason, until today. I’m glad you and the other commentors have shed light on the work of these talented women, I will check it out.

Sal

Ginny Loane in N.Z. Awesome D.P.

Barbara

PROUD

Justine Whyte

another name and talent to flag is Toronto’s CATHERINE LUTES!

Venla Hellstedt

The ever amazing Marita Hällfors, a Finnish contribution to this list.

Really?

No Agnès Godard?!

Gideon Kennedy

Reading this, I’m remiss not to add our cinematographer Jeanne Tyson to this comments section list. Besides our film "Limo Ride", she’s shot the features "Against the Grain" and "The Lovely Rejects", worked for The Oscars, and, after graduating with an MFA in Cinematography from UCLA, she’s now an instructor as well.

Indiewire Editors

We couldn’t include everyone on the list, but these are all great suggestions. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do a follow-up story…

BEF

Great list — but also look out for Charlotte Bruus Christensen, who shot "The Hunt" and next year’s "Life" and "Far From the Madding Crowd" — Vinterberg and Corbijn — good company.

Katey

I’ve edited two documentaries featuring all the talented female cinematographers around the world, including those listed here. So many more amazing women! "Shooting Women" and "Women Behind the Camera" features even more. <3

Lexie

Talented indeed though truly missing one of the greatest American cinematographers, Dyanna Taylor. As Dorothea Lange’s grandaughter, she had an edge on we mortals as her lastest film about Lange eloquently describes and showcases Taylor’s enormous talent not only as a cinematographer though also as a director

Dyanna Taylor is a five-time Emmy award winning Cinematographer and Director of Photography whose prominent career in documentaries and features has also earned her a Peabody Award and the honored Muse Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement in Cinematography from New York Women in Film and Television.

She has traveled the world lensing and directing films, documentaries, and television specials on social issues and environmental/wildlife concerns. Her extensive credits include work for all of the major network and cable media organizations including HBO, PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS and Nat Geo. Recently, she was 2nd Unit Director of Photography for the Disney feature McFarland, scheduled for release in fall of 2014, and is currently shooting Sleep for National Geographic. Taylor is also well known for her work as Director and Co-Producer of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place, which tells the gripping story of the first American women’s ascent of Annapurna I, and the tragic deaths of two of the climbers during the filming. She has a strong commitment to innovative, independently produced films and a deep interest in the world of art and the artistic mind. In progress: a film, shot over a period of 20 years, focused on artist James Turrell’s work at the Roden Crater.

A Buddhist, lover of animals and the natural world, Taylor also co-leads retreats for Media Makers.

Her film: Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, has special meaning for Taylor. She is Lange’s granddaughter, and has been deeply influenced by her grandmother’s sensibility and esthetic. This relationship has given Taylor access to never-before-seen footage, photographs, and journals. Combining Taylor’s memories and personal understanding with thorough scholarship, her film gives the viewer both an understanding and felt sense of the woman whose influential 20th century work revealed America to America.

marianna

jessica lee gagné of montreal (i think?) is another up and coming, stellar dp.

Gordon R.

… and Lotta Kilian from Germany

Ernst Gossner

And not to forget the great Daniela Knapp. She DPed our film The Silent Mountain and is in my opinion the next Janusz(a) Kaminska…

Veronica Dreyer

Two others: Joan Churchill, a wonderful and prolific award-winning documentary cinematographer whose films include Soldier Girls, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Shut up and Sing, Kurt & Courtney, Last Days in Vietnam, Citizen Koch and many others. Agnes Godard, a French cinematographer who has worked with Claire Denis, Wim Wenders, Peter Greenaway, Alain Renais and Agnes Varda. Her first two films as DP were Wings of Desire and The Belly of an Architect.

Gregorov

It’s a crime that Laura Beth Love isn’t on this list!

rick leonardi

there’s nothing stopping a women from picking up a camera and learning how to shoot. Have a feeling they just aren’t decisive enough to be effective as a DP on a big budget movie.

Karen S.

I’d like to see award-winning Kirstin Johnson on this list!!

John

I love Alice Brooks’ work on the LXD series and can’t wait to see the screen version of Jem and the Holograms.

Cecilia Peck

How can you leave out Joan Churchill? Also Christine Burrill, Tamara Goldsworthy, and Kirsten Johnson.

Lawanda Wollenman

You are missing a great one…Sevdije Kastrati

Craig Mieritz

I’d add Nicola Marsh to your list: Burn, Twenty Feet From Fame, Troubadours, The Union, Pearl Jam 20……outstanding documentary cinematographer.

Adrian

You missed Natasha Braier ("The Rover").

Takata Tire

I’m glad to see this list but have to say- if you’re a filmmaker and don’t know Maryse Alberti of Ellen Kuras you’ve been working with your head in the sand.

Damian

…and Claudia Raschke-Robinson

Johnny O.

Add Quyen Tran to this list… her work on GIRLFRIEND was simply stunning.

Dan Mirvish

Congrats to Nancy Schreiber, ASC, for making the list. She was indispensable and brilliant on my recent film "Between Us", as well as our sister production, "It’s a Disaster" – two very different looks, but both look amazing.

Up and coming jammer

Uh how about Dagmar Weaver-Madsen

Gorve

You should also mention Jolanta Dylewska, very talented Polish Cinematographer

Rob Lazovic

I am a big fan of female cinematographers, they have a unique ability to capture the essence of emotional scenery particularly to the drama genre. Females understand people’s inner feelings with a perspective that most men can not harness, thus they are outstanding at portraying this though imagery.

Bayou Bennett

Love finding articles about TALENTED female filmmakers! Women should be celebrated in the filmmaking world more! I am paving the way for female filmmakers too! Thank you Indie Wire! Bayou Bennett

David Morrison

Amy Vincent is pretty awesome as well.

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