Film Making

Film photography is one the best aspects of filmmaking, and as a photographer and videographer of multiple documentaries, short and feature films I can personally attest to you that film photography is definitely the most stressful ways to have the most fun you’ve ever had in your life.


There’s a strong sense of accomplishment that you get after a day’s work on a film set, partly because you’ve most likely been on your feet non-stop for about 12 hours, and partly because it went by so fast that you were scrambling to get everything done in time and in the proper way.


Every film has a budget, and it’s not necessarily all about the allocation of money, because when it comes down to it the most important resource on a film set is time because it’s the one thing that you can’t get back. A really great filmmaker once told me that and it’s stuck with me throughout my career, and time and time again when I’m sets I see people either using their time wisely or not using their time wisely enough, and it can be a huge part, if not the biggest part of the workflow of a film and the overall final result.


When it comes to film photography using your time wisely can not be stressed enough, simply because setting up the lights for each and every shot in a scene can be very time consuming. It’s important to get your key, fill and back lights in the perfect spot for each shot, and that’s not including a moving shot. When the subject moves, your light moves, and depending on the film you might need to keep that light consistent throughout a long take.


It may not necessarily need such intricate measure to be taken, but let’s take for instance a steadicam shot of two people walking on a sidewalk down a street. You can have a good amount of light hitting your two subjects at a certain part of the street, but if the shot takes the two characters down a dark alley or underneath a bridge you might completely lose all of your lighting and the lighting won’t match up at all in the camera. So what you would have to do before hand is set your camera at a certain aperture/settings and then do the full rehearsal shot in the daylight and then into the dark alleyway or under the bridge and then set up the lights so that the camera doesn’t have to make any adjustments and the characters are still properly lit.
That’s a lot easier said than done, especially if this dark alleyway or bridge is in public and you only have a certain amount of time to use it in your film’s budget. It’s a logistical matter, like all parts of filmmaking, but when it comes down to it when you get that great shot and it looks great, it’s really satisfying. It’s an adrenaline rush that not many other types of work can provide.

The Most Important

Film photography is obviously one of the most important and biggest aspects of the filmmaking process. When you are hiring your crew for a film you can get a lot of great people to help you out, but the one team of people you really want to get the best out of is your director of photography and their team. Usually a DP will have their own camera and equipment, sometimes in a large truck called a grip truck, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Renting a fully equipped grip truck is a lot simpler than most people would think, and it won’t necessarily ruin your budget on a low-budget independent film.

But no matter what the photography, or the lighting of a film is one of the most intricate parts of making a film look professional and better than any type of home video. The DP’s team will include a group of gaffers and grips, and sometimes a best boy or other electrical workers. There is a ton of electricity going on when it comes to the professional lighting equipments, and you definitely need to plan accordingly with things like generators, a set of long extension cords, a set of C-stands and diffusers to help make everything work smoothly. Usually a grip truck will have all of these things ready to go, but that’s just the beginning. What’s really important is knowing exactly how to get your film photography to be the very best that it can be, and that’s an art in itself that some of the best filmmakers have mastered over the years.

A film’s photography can make or break a scene and entire movie. You can use your lighting to set the mood of a scene and in a way set the tone for a whole film and the reaction that an audience will have to certain shots. It can change dramatically from one shot to the next, and that’s why film photography is probably the most time consuming part of the whole process. It’s one thing to have the actors and camera ready to go and then just do it, which can sometimes be the case, but when you’re setting up a really intricate amount of lighting and re-setting it up for each shot, then you’re going to be doing about five set-up shots per hour. It’s really always that time consuming, especially with the big production lights.

One aspect of film photography that I’d like to discuss that not enough early filmmakers take into consideration is lighting exterior day shots so that you don’t get a bright flare on people’s faces. This can be really difficult, especially in the sunny days that California generally has, but it’s definitely important if you want to get a nice diffused look that seems to be more agreeable to an audience’s eye.

All you have to do is diffuse the light of the sun, easy right? Not so much, but if you have the proper equipment you can do this, if you don’t you can try to figure out an easier way. Even a small, round diffuser lifted up on a C-Stand to be exactly in front of the sun’s rays can make a difference, just watch your shadows!!


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Film Photography

Film photography can be looked at in a variety of different ways, one being that film photography and can be the actual principal photography of the film in which the crew actually sets, lights and shoots each and every scene of the storyline. Another way of looking at film photography is through the action of still photography, which is also really popular among all film sets, big and large. Usually these types of still photographs are used as behind the scenes pictures that are later used for marketing purposes, including social media, posters, and all different types of marketing to get the word out there about the film. It’s an important task to do these types of still photographs during the filming of a feature or a short film, not only for marketing purposes but also just so the directors and producers have pictures of the great experience the making of the film was for the whole crew.


But let’s first talk about the principal photography in film. When it really comes down to it the word photography means the ability to adjust light, and as everyone knows the famous phrase lights, camera, action, and it can easily inferred that the first of this order is lights. Lighting a scene properly can be a very meticulous and time consuming task no matter what type of scene you’re trying to shoot, and that’s mainly because a lot of the times film crews and directors are shooting in low light situations, and when there is a low light situation you want to make sure every light that you use seems realistic and not just a film crew light off in the distance or coming from some obscure angle.


This is a lot easier said than done, because to a certain extent you don’t want a scene or an actor’s face to be lit improperly, but you still want to make it look like there aren’t a ton of lights and diffusers on him or her. A lot of great directors of photography use certain tricks up their sleeve in order to achieve this realistic effect with lighting, but even those tricks are hard to come by, but some are really simple. Using objects that you would normally find in room to light a subject can be really useful and give a more realistic sense to the lights in a scene. The objects include lamps, candles, sunlight, street lights, moonlight, mirror reflections, phone lights, you name it, any type of light you see in your regular life can be used to light even the highest of budgeted film scenes.


Of course that’s rarely the case and you’ll always see some gigantic lights and C-stands all over a film set, and that’s perfectly normal and OK to do, especially if you know how to set everything up in the proper place with the right amount of subtlety, a scene can really look great.


Just be careful of over-lighting, because when you can see the reflection of a big light in someone’s eye on screen, you know that it’s fake, and that takes away from the realism of the film.

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American Development

The developments in the American fashion industry has given rise to a more modern approach to photography. Due to commercialization, the fashion industry is the highest employer of photographers in America, the job roles assigned to fashion photographer’s ranges from photographing garments to interpreting the underlying ideas or themes of a fashion season. Photography now takes centre stage in studios and on locations to produce creative and eye-catching images that advertise people, clothes, accessories, and lifestyle. It is now popularly known that photographers who can interpret fashion trends and take stunning pictures that sell a look and style are in high demand and command substantial fees.

The culture of this industry has continued to change with the times and trends of our society. In this digital age of Instagram and Pinterest, it’s clear that fashion marketers have taken on a different strategy — one that involves a tacit agreement that pictures no longer serve its purpose on a glossy A4 magazine page, and may only be viewed on a social media feed. This has brought the most decisive shift in modern fashion photography and has changed the way photography is delivered to its end user. Between 2006 and 2013 Vogue’s advertising revenue fell by 16% because photography today is created to be liked, shared, tweeted and retweeted. For most brands, lookbooks are the new advertising campaigns as they are cheaper to produce and easier to consume.

Fashion photography now comes in many forms because the boundaries are now blurred between artistic and commercial work. Surrealism describes the work of several contemporary artists, including Ellen von Unwerth, Mario Testino, Roxanne Lowit, David LaChapelle, and Juergen Teller whose use of digital manipulation provides an escape from reality into the elegant world of high fashion and glamorous people.

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Commercialization of the American Fashion Industry


In the United States, the fashion industry became commercialized as a result of the recession, and this ushered in an era of realistically functional and casual styles like jeans. Although ready-made (also called ready-to-wear) clothes existed, they were limited to particular types of garments like outerwear- coats and jackets- and undergarments. Almost all clothing was made by tailors or by family members at home. Commercialization of fashion became more rampant from the 1970s as the ready-to-wear concept (or, prêt-a-porter) clothing took hold, and by the 1980s commercial fashion had become a booming international industry.


The 1980s was the beginning of a brave new world for fashion and photography. Commercialism reared its head when fashion was starting to have a wider appeal in Europe and America. The flourishing middle class had begun to take an interest in what they wore. With more money to spend, and upscale brands like Levi’s, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. Many people were eager to be part of the new fashion revolution and no matter the direction that the new digital era is taking fashion photography, there will always be beauty, style, and grace on fashion magazines, books, ad campaigns, billboards, and online. You had to arrive in style as well. When you show up to a Levi’s party the most luxurious stylish ride would be a party bus from rent a party bus in Los Angeles.


During World War II, workers in the fashion industry could not travel to Paris and, as a result, the first New York Fashion Week was held to deflect attention from French fashion this was a convenient method to break free of the universal belief that American designers were reliant on French couture for inspiration. In the early 1930s, European designers finally accepted that a dramatic shift had occurred in the fashion industry. Paris was no longer seen as the fashion capital of the world.


This shift veered from Paris to Los Angeles and New York. Hollywood movies had glamorous stars had become a potent force with eighty-five million movie tickets being sold every week and a long arm that had the change fashion trends and reached almost all social classes quickly. With huge budgets and innovative designers all geared toward marketing and selling trends America was the new fashion capital. From that point on mass production of female clothing evolved slowly. In that decade, so many factors such as the growth of an urban professional class, the rise of the advertising industry, development of industrial production techniques, and the development of national markets accessible through mail order catalogues and chain stores, contributed to the growth of women’s ready-made apparel industry.


Ready-made fashion products were viewed as modern and fashionable redefining the way Americans saw mass-produced goods. American women did not consider these mass produced clothing as a loss of style; rather they accepted these articles of fashion as affordable, convenient, and up-to-date fashion that could be replaced as trends change. This was not the same for male fashion items, as men’s fashion had been ready to wear for decades. The Civil War had played a central role in the historical evolution of men’s ready-made clothing. At the start of the war, most army uniforms were custom-made by the wearer. As the war stretched on, manufacturers began building clothing factories that would quickly and efficiently meet the increasing demands of the military. Volume production of uniforms compelled the development of standard sizing. After the war, these standard sizes were used to create the first commercial sizing rules for men.

The Milestones

Photography Milestones

Kodak 1900 – The Brownie was released to the world. It was a cheap self-reloadable box camera.

Kodak 1901 – Kodak released the 120 film format.

Arthur Korn 1902 – He devised a technology to reduce photographic images to transmittable signals that were sent by wire to other locations.

Colour Photos 1907 – The Autochrome plate was invented and became a commercial colour photography product.

Kinemacolor 1908 – A two-colour process that was the first commercial normal colour method for movies.

Kodak 1909 – Announced a 35 mm “safety” motion picture film and this was discontinued after 1911 due to imperfections.

Kodak 1912 – Released Vest Pocket that was known as the soldier’s camera using 127 films.

Thomas Edison 1912 – He released a short life 22 mm motion picture format film.

Kodak 1913 – Released 35 mm panchromatic motion picture film.

Kodak 1914 – Released the Autographic film system.

Kinemacolor 1914 – The first dramatic feature film in colour is released.

Kodak 1922 – Created a 35 mm panchromatic motion picture film.

Kodak 1923 – The Cine-Kodak camera a 16 mm amateur motion picture format is released.

Xenon Flash 1923 – Harold Edgerton invented the Xenon flash lamp for use in strobe photography.

Leica 1925 – The 35 mm format for still photography. Was the first commercially successful 35 mm camera.

Kodak 1926 – Kodak released its 35 mm Motion Picture Film for duplicate negatives.

Disney 1932 – The first full-colour cartoon is made in Technicolor.

Kodak 1932 – Kodak released the 8 mm motion picture film, cameras, and projectors.

Film cartridge 1934 – The 135 cartridge was released, making 35 mm easy to use for still photography.

Becky Sharp 1935 – Released the first feature film made in the full-colour.

Kodachrome 1935 – A multi-layered colour reversal film.

SLR 1936 – Introduction of the Ihagee Kine Exakta 1, the first 35 mm Single Lens Reflex camera.

Agfacolor 1936 – Agfacolor Neu colour reversal film for home use.

Agfacolor 1939 – Negative and positive 35 mm colour film stock.

View-Master 1939 – The 3-D Viewer with its “reels” of seven small stereoscopic images.

Kodacolor 1942 – The first colour film that yielded negatives.

Holography 1947 – Dennis Gabor invented holography.

Rapatronic 1947 – Developed by Harold Edgerton for the U.S. government.

Hasselblad 1948 – The Hasselblad camera was released.

Polaroid 1948 – Edwin H. Land released the first instant camera.

Contac S 1949 – The Contac S camera was released.

Bwana Devil 1952 – A low-budget polarized 3-D film.

Leica 1954 – Leica M was released.

Pentax SLR 1957 – First Asahi Pentax SLR was released.

Scanned Photographs 1957 – The first digital computer acquisition of digitized photographs, by Russell Kirsch et al.

Nikon 1959 – Nikon F was released.

Optima 1959 – AGFA released the first fully automatic camera.

Instamatic 1963 – Kodak Released the Instamatic.

Pentax Spotmatic 1964 – The first Pentax Spotmatic SLR released.

MOS 1967 – Released the first MOS 10 by 10 active pixel camera.

Photomatrix 1972 –Photomatrix 64 by 64 MOS active pixel.

Fairchild 1973 – They released a Semiconductor which was the first image forming CCD chip.

Kodak 1975 – Bryce Bayer develops the Bayer filter mosaic pattern.

Steadicam 1976 – Steadicam becomes available.

Kodak 1986 – Invented the world’s first megapixel sensor.

Kodak 1992- Photo CD created by Kodak.

CMOS sensors 1993–95 – The Jet Propulsion Laboratory produces devices using CMOS.

Nikon 1994 – Released the first optical stabilized lens.

Kodak & Apple 1995- Kodak DC40 and the Apple QuickTake were the first digital camera for consumers.

APS 1996 – The Advanced Photo System (APS) is released by Eastman Kodak, Fujifilm, Agfa Photo, and Konica.

Philippe Kahn 1997- The first known publicly shared picture via a cell phone was by Philippe Kahn.

J-SH04 2000 – The first commercial cell phone with a camera was made by Sharp Corporation and released by J-Phone.

Twenty-First Century

AgfaPhoto 2005 – Production of Agfa brand consumer films ends.

Dalsa 2006 – Produces the highest resolution camera with 111 megapixel CCD sensor.

Polaroid 2008 – Polaroid announced it was discontinuing the production of all instant film products, indicating the growth of digital imaging technology.

Kodak 2009 – Announced the discontinuance of the Kodachrome film.


Fujifilm 2009 – Launches the world’s first 3D digital camera.Lytro 2011 – Lytro released the first pocket-sized consumer camera capable of refocusing an image. Lytro’s light-field camera was created with some fantastic features: Variable depth of field and refocusing, Speed, Low-light sensitivity, and 3D images.


The historical leaps and bounds that photography took in the twentieth century helped usher us into a new century that is booming with prospective innovative technologies in this sector. Photography has always been a pillar of support for the fashion industry and for centuries both worked pari passu. As photography took its giant leaps so did the fashion industry.


After the Second World War, the fashion industry underwent a dramatic change, and various new designers emerged. Fashion models became necessary, and models like Dorian Leigh, Suzy Parker, Jean Patchett, and Dovima became household names. These changes in the fashion scene brought about a similar change in photography, and some of the most popular fashion photographers made their mark on history.


By the mid-1950s, the sober style of photographers in the earlier decades gave way to a new breed that were more impulsive, and energetic. Leading figures in this new generation included Lillian Bassman, (American, 1917–2012), William Klein (American, born 1928), and David Bailey (British, born 1938). In the 1970s, social changes- especially feminism- had a profound effect on photography, fashion and the way women were portrayed. More female photographers like Deborah Turbeville (American, 1937–2013), Sarah Moon (French, born 1941), and Eve Arnold (American, 1913–2012), brought new attitudes to fashion magazines and publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.


Fashion Photography

Fashion photography is considered an art form, but it wasn’t always this way. Over the past 100 years, professionals in photography have laboured to prove that it is a credible and legitimate form of art. Trends in the industry from 1910-1950 gave rise to modern photography as photographers started to produce images with a sharper focus, and the camera became an essential mechanical and technological tool. In 1904, the renowned critic Sadakichi Hartmann appealed to photographers to take “Straight Photography”. This plea gave birth to modern photography and rejected the artistic manipulations and painterly features of Pictorialism (This was the international style that dominated photography during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries).


How it all began.

Alexander Wolcott invented the first camera that was patented on May 8, 1840. However, long before Mr. Wolcott’s invention, Joseph Nicephore Niepce- roughly around 1826- used a sliding wooden box and a piece of paper that he had coated with silver chloride to take the first photographic image. This was a disaster because the picture darkened when the photograph was exposed to light. By far the most significant event in the history of amateurish photography was the introduction of the Kodak’s first camera in 1888. Invented and marketed by George Eastman (1854–1932), from Rochester, New York. The camera was a simple box that came with a 100-exposure roll of film. Whenever the roll was finished, the camera was sent back to the factory to be reloaded. Modern day photography has come a long way from its modest origins. Let’s have a look at some significant milestones in the development of photography technology.



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old camera 1