What Does It Mean to Say That Cinematography Is Like Painting With Light?
Contribution to Book
Cinematographers have been comparing their work to painting for decades. The analogy is intriguing, in part, because it is so imperfect. A painting is made by hand; a film, by a machine. A painting is a single static image; a film unfolds in time and motion. With equal plausibility, one might compare cinematography to writing or sculpture or music—or, to take the most proximate case, to photography. Yet none of these analogies has obtained the currency of the well-worn phrase "painting with light." The phrase may have become something of a cliché, but some cinematographers take the analogy with painting very seriously indeed, proposing that the careful study of painting is essential to a deeper understanding of light and composition. This essay will consider the role that the analogy has played in the theories of three prominent cinematographers: Néstor Almendros, Henri Alekan, and Vittorio Storaro.
Lindsay Coleman, Daisuke Miyao, Roberto Schaefer
Keating, P. (2017). What does it mean to say that cinematography is like painting with light? In L. Coleman, D. Miyao, & R. Schaefer (Eds.), Transnational Cinematography Studies (pp. 97-115). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Transnational Cinematography Studies