Christian filmmakers tend to be plagued with a debilitating problem. They focus on the message and the mission at the expense of the craft of filmmaking. Good filmmaking isn’t about following actors around with a camera. Good filmmaking is about understanding the medium. The heart of a film is the story, but the clothing of the film is cinematography.

Film, by its very nature, is a visual storytelling medium. To be a filmmaker is to respect that nature. The language of cinematography consists of composing an image, composing for movement, lensing, color, texture, light and shadow.  Cinematography has technical requirements, but at it’s soul is an art form.

There is a reason good actors made enormous sums of money. Cinematographers also make a lot of money, also for good reason. The images that make your films can make or break the picture.

This short documentary produced by Zacuto and Steve Weiss is a good reminder about the art of cinematography that is very unique to the cinematographer.

From the website:

Zacuto presents an Emmy winning film from director Steve Weiss. A year and a half in the making, Light & Shadow gives us all a peek into the minds of legendary cinematographers. If you’re searching for textbook answers, you won’t find them here. Thought-provoking questions such as “What is creativity?”, “What shapes your vision?” and “How do you look at life?” provide an inspirational view about what it truly means to be a cinematographer.


If you have only one takeaway from Light & Shadow, let it be a reminder that cinematography, like all art forms, is something that comes from within. The technical can be taught, and anyone can pick up a camera and learn how to operate it. To capture an emotion and move an audience through visual storytelling is the real challenge. The big question is this: can it be learned or are you born with it?

I do have one criticism of the film. I would expect a documentary about cinematography to have good lighting and composition of a basic interview. This is a criticism I have with almost every documentary about cinematography I’ve seen. It baffles me. In spite of that, this is a very inspiring documentary.