Film as a medium is heavily reliant on visuals to communicate themes, tone, and even character motivation and/or development. Many classics in this field have featured memorable visuals that effectively conveyed their messages and stuck with audiences years after their initial release.
Cinematographers (or directors of photography) are responsible for creating a film's visual language and imbuing it with the director's vision as well as their own stylistic sensibilities. A cinematographer in full control of their craft is able to do this seamlessly and uses their skill to breathe new life into the script's themes, actors' performances, and even the composer's music.
Cinematography (like film as a whole) may be subjective but there is no denying the skill of a fair number of DPs working in the industry today. From industry veterans familiar with shooting on film to industry up and comers pushing the limit of digital photography, there is no shortage of talent.
As a result, ranking these creatives can be rather difficult in some instances but is also a testament to the accomplishments of the cinematographers on this list.
10. Reed Morano
One of the few directors of photography on this list to dip their toes in both the realms of film and television, Reed Morano's varied body of work has created vivid imagery in some of the most acclaimed films and series over the last fifteen years.
She has also directed various films and episodes, showing an incredible command over her craft. Her most prominent pieces of work include Kill Your Darlings, Meadowland (her directorial debut), and The Handmaid's Tale.
Her shot composition has an intensely personal feel, ensuring that audiences deeply connect with the characters on screen. Due to this, she uses wide lenses while shooting actors. She also opts for a relatively limited colour palette and realistic lighting, stylistic sensibilities influenced by her time working on documentaries. Her overhead lighting methods give actors more freedom to move around on set, adding to the grounded feel of her work.
She has received recognition from institutions such as Indiewire, the American Society of Cinematographers and even won a Primetime Emmy for her directorial efforts on The Handmaid's Tale.