If you've watched anything by J.J Abrams surely you are well aware of what a lens flare is.
In fact, the director's love affair with these camera anomalies could make one think that flares were born into a place of great respect and honor among filmmakers — the first one twinkling in the eye of a camera operator as they realized that the world of cinematography would never be the same again. But that's not the case — they were thought of as mistakes. Vox guides us through the history of lens flares, from their humble beginnings to their (ahem) bright future.
Now that lens flares are more ubiquitous in today's films than a wilhelm scream, it's a little difficult to appreciate what they offer in terms of storytelling and style. And even if you're totally sick of seeing them, it is interesting to know that they were kind of a way for indie filmmakers to give a little "f*** you" to the Hollywood studio environment — like, "Your studio walls can't cage me! I'm going outside and not coming in until I smell like freshly cut grass and this entire roll of film is full of lens flares!" (Thanks, Dennis Hopper!)