Why Photographers Should Study Cinema

Dear friend,

Practical suggestion: If you want to find inspiration, motivation, or interesting new compositions to apply to your photography, study cinema!

Why study cinema?

Well first of all, there are several reasons why to study cinema:

First of all, there are so many great and epic compositions you can learn from cinema and film. To be honest, 99.9% of contemporary photographers have boring compositions. Great cinematographers from the past (Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott) have turned their film-making into moving art and painting. I got so much inspiration first from the guy behind ‘Every Still a Painting’ (YouTube Channel) where I realized:

Cinema is just moving painting/art.

I realized this most vividly when I watched ‘7 Samurai’ by Akira Kurosawa for the first time. There were scenes and stills that literally looked like (slightly moving) paintings.

Analysis of 7 Samurai

For example, here are some scenes which have burned themselves into my memory:

1. Epic death


Thanks to Sylvius for the correction:

Kyuzo, the stoic samurai sitting among flowers is not a death scene. He was calmly waiting in the shade to ambush a couple of bandits. Kyuzo died on during the last battle scene.

I mis remembered this scene, but it still inspired me!

The first scene that has burned itself into my memory is this epic scene– of one of the stoic, badass samurais who goes to a beautiful shaded area with flowers, and dies. Still thinking of the scene; it puts chills through my spine.

And it has also taught me a moral lesson (more important), which is:

Devote your life (and possibly even die for) something greater than yourself.

Because for me ultimately, art is philosophy. Cinema is the director sharing his/her philosophy with the audience, doing it with moving images.

2. Boy lying in flowers


The reverie, and day-dream of the boy lying in the field of flowers– with the light glowing. Truly shows the beauty of black and white film, lighting.

And the composition: The golden angle:

3. Spacing, depth, and layers of the subjects

Here, note this scene where all the samurai are in a room, deliberating. Note the spacing of their heads, and the different directions they’re looking:

Don’t just watch films: study, dissect, and analyze them!

Back to the essay at hand:


Don’t just watch movies; study, analyze, and dissect them!

And also, remember– you are what you eat. My suggestion of my personal favorite films:


a. Stanley Kubrick Films:

b. Akira Kurosawa Films:

c. Epic films in general

‘I see all this potential; and I see it all squandered. Entire generation of slaves with white collars.’ – Tyler Durden

Films with good life lessons:




Cinematography and life lessons: