how many directors of photography are women

How Many Directors Of Photography Are Women

The world of cinema has always cast a spellbinding allure, drawing countless enthusiasts into its enchanting orbit. However, behind the camera lies a different story—one that reveals disparities often overshadowed by the limelight. Among these, the underrepresentation of female directors of photography (DPs) stands out. For film enthusiasts keen on understanding the intricacies of the industry, this blog post explores the progress and challenges faced by women in this pivotal role.

The Role of a Director of Photography

Defining the Craft

A director of photography, also known as a cinematographer or DP, is responsible for the visual elements of a film. They work closely with the director to create the visual style and setting the tone for each scene. This role involves choosing camera equipment, lighting techniques, and shot compositions that bring the director’s vision to life.

Importance in Film Making

The DP’s work is crucial because it influences how the audience perceives the story. Great cinematography can elevate a film, making it visually compelling and emotionally resonant. Without skilled DPs, even the most well-written scripts can fall flat.

Historical Context

Historically, the role of a DP has been male-dominated. Despite women being pioneers in early cinema, they have often been sidelined in technical roles. This historical context sets the stage for understanding the current landscape for female DPs in the industry.

The Current Landscape for Female DPs

Statistics and Figures

When it comes to the numbers, the disparity is glaring. According to a 2022 study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, only 5% of the top 250 grossing films in the US had female cinematographers. This figure starkly contrasts with the overall push for gender diversity in other areas of filmmaking.

Barriers to Entry

Several barriers contribute to this disparity. Traditional gender roles and stereotypes often discourage women from pursuing technical careers. Additionally, the lack of visible role models and mentors in cinematography can make it challenging for aspiring female DPs to envision a successful career path.

Notable Female DPs

Despite the obstacles, several women have made significant strides in the field. Rachel Morrison, for example, made history as the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography for her work on “Mudbound.” Other notable female DPs include Ellen Kuras, known for her work on “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and Mandy Walker, who has worked on films like “Mulan” and “Hidden Figures.”

Breaking Down the Barriers

Education and Training

Education is a crucial starting point for breaking down barriers. Film schools and technical institutes need to actively encourage and support female students in cinematography programs. Scholarships, workshops, and mentorship programs can provide the necessary support and inspiration.

Mentorship and Networking

Mentorship and networking play pivotal roles in career development. Initiatives like the International Collective of Female Cinematographers (ICFC) offer a platform for women to connect, share knowledge, and support each other. These networks are instrumental in providing guidance and opening doors to opportunities in the industry.

Industry Initiatives

Several industry initiatives aim to increase diversity behind the camera. Programs like the American Society of Cinematographers’ Vision Committee work to promote and support underrepresented groups in cinematography. Such initiatives are essential for creating a more inclusive industry.

The Impact of Diverse Perspectives

Enriching Storytelling

Diverse perspectives bring richness to storytelling. Female DPs offer unique viewpoints that can enhance the narrative depth and emotional resonance of a film. Their contributions can lead to more inclusive and varied representations on screen.

Audience Engagement

Audiences are becoming more diverse, and they seek content that reflects their experiences. Films shot by female DPs can resonate more strongly with these audiences, driving higher engagement and satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to greater commercial success and critical acclaim.

Industry Benefits

Beyond artistic contributions, diversity in cinematography can lead to a more innovative and dynamic industry. Different perspectives can inspire new techniques and approaches, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in filmmaking.

Case Studies of Successful Female DPs

Rachel Morrison

Rachel Morrison’s work on “Black Panther” and “Mudbound” showcases her exceptional talent and has paved the way for many aspiring female DPs. Her ability to capture intricate emotions and stunning visuals has earned her widespread recognition and respect in the industry.

Reed Morano

Reed Morano, known for her work on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “I Think We’re Alone Now,” is another trailblazer. Her distinct visual style and innovative approach have made her a sought-after DP and director, demonstrating the versatility and depth that female DPs bring to the table.

Maryse Alberti

Maryse Alberti’s cinematography in films like “The Wrestler” and “Creed” highlights her skill in creating compelling, gritty visuals. Her success across various genres underscores the diverse capabilities of female DPs in the industry.

The Future of Women in Cinematography

Growing Awareness

Awareness of gender disparity in cinematography is growing, leading to increased efforts to address the issue. Social media campaigns, industry panels, and academic studies are shedding light on the challenges faced by female DPs and advocating for change.

Technological Advancements

Technological advancements in filmmaking offer new opportunities for female DPs. Digital cinematography, virtual production, and other innovations are democratizing access to filmmaking tools, making it easier for women to enter and excel in the field.

Supportive Policies

Industry leaders and organizations are implementing policies to promote gender diversity. Inclusion riders, diversity quotas, and funding for female-led projects are some of the measures that can help create a more equitable landscape for female DPs.

How Film Enthusiasts Can Support

Celebrate Female DPs

One way to support female DPs is by celebrating their work. Highlighting their achievements on social media, attending screenings of their films, and advocating for their recognition at film festivals and award shows can amplify their visibility and influence.

Engage in Conversations

Engaging in conversations about gender diversity in cinematography can raise awareness and drive change. Film enthusiasts can participate in discussions, share articles and research, and support initiatives aimed at promoting diversity behind the camera.

Support Industry Initiatives

Supporting industry initiatives that promote gender diversity is another impactful way to contribute. Donations, volunteering, and spreading the word about programs that support female DPs can make a significant difference.


Are there any prominent female directors of photography in the industry today?

Yes, there are several prominent female DPs, including Rachel Morrison, Reed Morano, and Maryse Alberti, who have made significant contributions to the field and received critical acclaim for their work.

What challenges do female directors of photography face in the industry?

Female DPs face challenges such as gender stereotypes, lack of representation, and limited access to mentorship and networking opportunities. These barriers can make it difficult for women to pursue and advance in cinematography careers.

How can aspiring female DPs succeed in the industry?

Aspiring female DPs can succeed by seeking education and training, participating in mentorship programs, networking with industry professionals, and staying updated on technological advancements in filmmaking.


The journey of female directors of photography is marked by both remarkable achievements and ongoing challenges. For film enthusiasts, understanding this landscape is crucial in appreciating the diverse talents that shape the visual storytelling of cinema. By supporting and advocating for female DPs, we can contribute to a more inclusive and dynamic film industry.

Explore more about the world of cinematography and discover how you can be a part of this exciting transformation. Join us in celebrating the incredible work of female DPs and take an active role in shaping the future of filmmaking.