From the legendary photographer, Richard Avedon:

            “It’s not hard being great occasionally.  It’s difficult being good consistently.”

            Though this’s true regarding most everything in life, it’s somewhat facile for a stills guy to observe about himself!

            Consider how many times a cinematographer has to be on-target.  I’m not just talking about twenty-four times per second, I’m referring to the thousands of decisions that must be made during a single day’s production.  A miscue on even a tiny percentage of them has the potential to trigger countless detrimental outcomes.  Expand that to a several week-long or multi-month shoot and you’re talking about a truly prodigious challenge.

            So, just how difficult is it for a cinematographer to be good consistently?  It would be more precise to ask, ‘at what point are we satisfied with what we’ve done?’  The fact that I and so many of my colleagues would jump at the chance to re-shoot so much of our work should tell us something.  Avedon is certainly correct in his sentiment – and we know that better than anyone.

            Whenever I steal a quiet moment on set, I’m always amused that something viable will ultimately result from the seeming chaos.  And the more I move forward in my career is the more awestruck I become that any of it might be considered good at all!


5 thoughts on “IT’S AN IMPOSING TASK”

  1. It’s like Howard Hawks comment that “a good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes.” Over time, you realize that getting the good shots is not that hard, it’s avoiding the bad ones that is the challenge! (And it gets harder if using multiple cameras is the norm…)
    Sometimes I think life is a constant struggle against mediocrity, including in myself.

  2. I have always maintained that “single framers” only have to live and die on a single image. Look at the proof sheets and the countless attempts at a “perfect” image. Today many fashion photogs are using 8K video cameras to capture the perfect frame. No problem with that, it’s a “business” & whatever tool you can use to satisfy your client is fair. Avedon’s body of work IS sensational, but let’s see the proof sheets!

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