There is no question the director of photography is one of the most important jobs on set. The DP helps the director set the look of the film, and depending on their working relationship, may actually have quite a bit of influence on the final film. In the end though, the DP's job is to help the director get the movie "in the can" at all costs, even if that means sacrificing time for lighting and camera moves. Blue Valentine director of photography Andrij Parekh sat down with Craft Truck, a website that focuses on discussions with technical storytellers from the world of film, to talk about his career and how he sees the role of the cinematographer.
It's interesting that most of Blue Valentine was shot with mostly available light (except for the times when they used one artificial source). In my experience, the less amount of set that is getting in the actors' way, the less there will be to distract them from creating memorable performances. In some ways that is the advantage to lower budget productions, where you don't have the time or money for more lighting and more gear.
While plenty of DPs shoot because they love to make beautiful images, it's also important to remember that in the end, as Andrij Parekh says, the audience is there for the performances and the story, and if everyone is doing their jobs, they probably won't notice the lighting and shot selection. One of the other great lines from the interview is that as the DP, once you get on set and start shooting, it's not about the gear anymore. You can prepare yourself and learn as much as possible, but once you get there, the most important thing is that the director gets what they need to tell the best story possible. The audience will never see the issues or problems you had trying to get lighting perfect, all they will see is the actors on screen.
What do you think of Andrij Parekh's approach? Have you applied this kind of thinking in your own films?