Film Specific

Meet the Cinematographers Behind Some of the Biggest Movies — Who Happen to Be Women



There are no women nominated in the cinematography category for the 2019 Oscars.

Last year, the Academy Awards did something unprecedented: They nominated a woman for an Oscar in the cinematography category. In the history of the iconic awards show, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had never recognized a woman in the prestigious category. It was a major moment for representation and felt like an important step toward gender parity behind the camera.

Come this year and the 2019 Oscars, the Academy did not nominate any women in that category. And they took another step backward: the broadcast initially moved the award presentation and acceptance speech for cinematography (along with film editing, live action short, and hair and makeup, for that matter) to a commercial break wanting to streamline the 3-hour-plus-long broadcast. But thanks to public outcry, the decision was reversed.

If you’re scratching your head wondering what “cinematographer” means, also known as the DP (Director of Photography) for short, here’s a quick rundown as to why these roles are essential to the filmmaking process: A cinematographer is someone who works in collaboration with the director first and foremost to decide what shots they want, creating the overall visual aesthetic of the film. Then the DP goes off — with the camera and electrical department — and figures out what lights to use, how and where to place them, and what other tools (such as cranes, dollies, etc.) might be needed in order to achieve the director’s vision for said scenes. They run a team of a few to a few dozen (Rachel Morrison had a crew of 66 on Black Panther) for the length of the production. They can also be part of the color correcting process, the digital colorization that happens after a film is all shot but before it’s picture-locked.

There’s still plenty of work to be done when it comes to the representation of women both on and off screen. But Teen Vogue wants to highlight films from this past year that were shot by cinematographers, who also happen to be women, and what’s in store for these creatives behind the camera.

Ashley Connor

Ashley Connor is known for her work on Madeline’s Madeline and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Before getting behind the camera for some of 2018’s most buzzed-about features, she worked on a slew of shorts including Forever, Ally and Ada. She was recently listed as a rising star by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC)in the February issue of American Cinematographer. Upcoming credits also include shooting the final season of Broad City.

Polly Morgan

Meet the Cinematographers Behind Some of the Biggest Movies  Who Happen to Be Women
Photo by Cheli Clayton

Besides becoming the first woman ever to be both a member of the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) and the American Society of Cinematographers, as well as the current youngest member of the ASC, Polly Morgan was working non-stop throughout 2018. She shot Fox Searchlight’s astronaut drama Lucy in the Sky with Natalie Portman and Jon Hamm and the third and final season of Legion. To see her work, watch Spinning Man and 6 Balloons and you might as well catch up on season 2 of Legion to see her trippy visuals at play.

Sevdije Kastrati

Meet the Cinematographers Behind Some of the Biggest Movies  Who Happen to Be Women
Photo by Jetmir Zenelaj

Sevdije Kastrati is Kosovo’s first female cinematographer. Her 2018 LGBTQ-focused feature, The Marriage, directed by Blerta Zeqiri, opened in theaters in Kosovo early last year and caused quite the buzz. The film was also the country’s Oscar entry. Kastrati has shot six feature films since graduating from the American Film Institute (AFI) in 2011 and we expect great work from her in the near future. Her film Zana is set to be shown around the festival circuit. Directed by her sister Antoneta Kastrati, the film was inspired by events that happened to their family during The Kosovo War.


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