Why Robert Richardson is the DP Great Directors Want to Work With

Sometimes it's a signature style that calls attention to a cinematographer's skill. Sometimes, like in the case of Robert Richardson, it's something else entirely.

We already know that Robert Richardson is a master of his craft — his lighting techniques alone push the art of cinematography to new heights. However, even though he does have a few trademark tricks that he utilizes in his work, it's his ability to satisfy the demands of today's greatest directors that makes him a unique DP.

In this video essay, Sareesh Sudhakaran of wolfcrow gives us incredible insight into Richardson's work, from his lighting philosophy to the technical details of his artistic choices. Check it out below:

There are plenty of interesting tricks you can learn from Richardson, like using his signature hot backlight technique. But perhaps the greatest thing you can glean from his work is his ability to understand a director's vision and adapt his style accordingly. Think about it, you have to really understand your craft in order to satisfy the likes of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Oliver Stone — all of whom have very unique styles and very precise visions for the look of their films.

To put it another way, having a style that is wholly yours is great — you're an artist after all, so of course that will develop the more you work, but being a one trick pony won't get you very far. Being able to fully grasp what a director wants from you and then translating that into the images they envisioned in their head is a skill that comes with not only a lot of experience and practice, but maturity as well.

Robert Richardson and Quentin Tarantino on the set of 'Kill Bill: Vol. 1'

I mean, if you were a director wouldn't you want to work with the DP that had enough imagination and technical knowledge to bring your ideas to life? Of course you would!     

Your Comment


Good inspiration.

April 13, 2016 at 12:20AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

I'm sorry to break the news to the unawares but Robert Richardson is a terrible human being. As a director I wouldn't be OK working with someone that constantly humiliates and rants on his crew and has the industry's nickname of White Devil for that reason. I prefer not to glorify someone like that, ever, even if he knows his chops.

April 13, 2016 at 5:59AM, Edited April 13, 6:01AM


Terrible person or not, you can still learn from his works and techniques.

April 13, 2016 at 7:32AM


thank you for speaking up. If our industry takes a code of silence, it will never grow more just and fairly.

Thankfully, I think we are moving towards a newer generation where directors and DPs treat their crews with respect. The better one treats the crew, the more inspired they will be to work well.

April 13, 2016 at 7:56PM, Edited April 13, 7:57PM

Ed David
Director of Photography

I've worked on set with Richardson in a small production (he probably didn't really care much about) with a truly terrible producer and other personalities. He was the most mellow and cool fellow to myself and others during the nightmare - at least to my experience he was very kind.

April 26, 2016 at 9:32PM

Stanley Fairburn

Respectfully disagree, find his work over lit, theatrical and anachronistic. It draws way too much attention to itself.

April 13, 2016 at 11:01AM


He's such a powerful DP he can make an OK director great (Oliver Stone) or a great director OK (Tarantino)

April 14, 2016 at 11:47AM, Edited April 14, 11:47AM

Dan Roy
Editor and Photographer