Late last year, we published a list of eight female cinematographers you should know about. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Readers wrote in to suggest other female DPs to include in the list. While the original list was, in no way, meant to be comprehensive, given the larger underrepresentation of female cinematographers (In the last five years, women accounted for just 3% of the cinematographers among the 250 top-grossing films and no female DP has ever been nominated for an Academy Award), we felt it was worth shining attention on eight more women who are making strides in the field.
Below we highlight eight more female cinematographers you should know about regardless of their gender (in alphabetical order):
Natasha Braier: Argentinian-born Braier studied still photography in Argentina before studying at the official film school in Spain and earning her Master’s Degree in Cinematography at the National Film and Television School in the UK. After shooting a handful of shorts, Braier got her first feature film break with Alexis Dos Santos’ Rotterdam winner “Glue.” Since then, she’s shown versatility on her work with an impressive group of international directors, including Lucia Puenzo, Lynne Ramsay, Shane Meadows, Cédric Klapischand Claudia Llosa (on the Foreign Language Oscar nominee “The Milk of Sorrow”). Most recently, she exhibited tremendous visual style on her work on David Michod’s dystopian drama “The Rover,” an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival. Michod nicknamed Braier “the painter” for her beautiful images.
Kirsten Johnson: Award-winning New York-based documentary filmmaker and cinematographer got her start working on local fiction and documentary film projects in West Africa before attending the FEMIS (the French National Film School) in Paris. After graduating from the FEMIS cinematography department in 1994, she went on to direct four shorts and to edit, direct and shoot features. “Asylum,” a short documentary she shot in Ghana was nominated for an Academy Award in 2004. Since then, she has shot some of the most powerful documentaries in recent years, including “A Place at the Table,” the Oscar-nominated “The Invisible War” and most recently, Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour,” which won Best Documentary at this year’s Academy Awards.
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Laela Kilbourn: Director of Photography Laela Kilbourn’s documentary feature credits include “How to Dance in Ohio,” which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the award-winning “American Teen” and Emmy-nominated “Word Wars.” She’s also done additional camera work on the Oscar-winning “20 Feet from Stardom.” On TV, she shot The History Channel’s 11-part documentary-series “Sandhogs” and was additional camera on the acclaimed FX series “The Americans.” Next up, Kilbourn will shoot “Swim Team,” a documentary feature about coming of age with autism.
Dana Kupper: Award-winning documentary cinematographer and cameraperson Dana Kupper has been in the film business for more than 25 years. Known for her verite style and handheld camerawork, Kupper has a knack for putting subjects at ease as she tells their stories. Her work includes documentaries including “Five Girls,” “The New Americans,” “Stevie” and most-recently Steve James’ award-winning “Life Itself” about Roger Ebert’s life. Her next project is “The Rosenwald Schools,” Aviva Kempner’s documentary about Chicago philanthropist Julius Rosenwald.
Nicola Marsh: One of two cinematographers for Morgan Neville’s Oscar-winning “20 Feet from Stardom,” Marsh previously worked with Neville on “Troubadours” and “The Night James Brown Saved Boston.” She’s also shot two films for Cameron Crowe, including “Pearl Jam Twenty” and “The Union.” On TV, she’s shot “Vanderbump Rules,” the hit Bravo reality TV series, and is now working on Crowe’s TV movie, “Roadies.”
Elle Schneider: Though she’s worked as a writer, director, photographer and cinematographer, Schneider is perhaps best known as creative director and part owner of the Digital Bolex cinema camera, which she helped develop. A vocal proponent for women behind the camera, Schneider created the Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers. Schneider has directed short film, web and commercial content and has been DP for four feature films, including “That Guy Dick Miller” and the 2013 SXSW selection “I Am Divine.” “We are in a moment of extreme change in the industry—for maybe the first time we’re seeing women walking out of graduate programs and into directing and photographing indie features that can leverage social media and VOD to have a real financial impact,” Schneider wrote in a recent story for Indiewire.
Amy Vincent: Amy Vincent, ASC, was the DP for Oscar-nominated “Hustle and Flow” (for which she won the cinematography award at Sundance), “Black Snake Moan” and the 2011 version of “Footloose,” all directed by Craig Brewer. In his review of “Eve’s Bayou,” Roger Ebert compared Vincent’s work on the film to Sven Nykvist’s work with Ingmar Bergman. Our only complaint is that she’s not more prolific.
Dagmar Weaver-Madsen: Danish-American Weaver-Madsen was one of three students accepted into the prestigious UCLA Masters Cinematography program where she earned her MFA. Splitting her time between Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Weaver-Madsen has earned a reputation for her visually striking storytelling in music videos, commercials, films and web series. Some of her recent projects include Carlos Marques-Marcet’s “10,000 KM,” which won best performance at SXSW 2014 and Kris Swanberg’s “Unexpected,” which recently premiered at Sundance. She’s also the DP for Vimeo’s first original web series, “High Maintenance.”
On a Canon panel devoted to female cinematographers at Sundance 2015, Weaver-Madsen likened starting out in the industry to climbing a mountain. “It may look impossible when you start. But you don’t get intimidated, you just take small steps and you make your way up. Just be where you need to be, and just keep going.” Wise advise!