If you look at the filmography of DP Darius Khondji you'll soon realize that has not only worked with some of the greatest directors of our time, including Woody Allen, David Fincher, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, but he has shot pretty much every genre imaginable. From horrific psycho thrillers (Seven) to quirky romantic comedies (Midnight in Paris), Khondji has brought his own unique creative sensibility, as well as his adept collaborative efforts, a half-haunted style that is explored in this video essay by Sareesh Sudhakaran of wolfcrow.

Oftentimes it's difficult to really dig into a cinematographer's approach to creating images, because most of the time they are so dedicated to helping the director achieve their vision. However, every DP brings their own unique skills and artistry to the table, and Khondji is no different. He tends to use a handful of different techniques in most of his work, like shooting on anamorphic lenses (especially Cookes) and lighting faces evenly, almost without shadows. He also has an affinity for flashing film, which is basically just adding exposure to the shadows, and then putting the film through a silver retention printing process to making the blacks more rich while still maintaining shadow detail.

But aside from learning facts about his technique and cinematic approach to shooting film, Khondji shared the three best pieces of professional advice he'd ever been given in a brief interview with the ASC, which might prove to be invaluable. He said:

1.) Learn how to listen; 2.) Choose one strong idea per film; and 3.) Really understand your motivations, why you do something and not something else, and the direction you take in your work.

Darius-khondjiDarius Khondji

These are some of the foundational tenets of professional cinematography, tenets that if put into practice would make you an asset on any film project. And seeing how most of the directors that have worked with Khondji rave about him and his work, I'd say those three pieces of advice might be the best you've ever been given, too.

But Khondji (probably) unintentionally provides a fantastic bit of wisdom in this interview with the New York Times when he talks about how getting lost for three days in Rome when he was only 3 1/2 years old affected his life:

I have lived most of my life in Paris, but I have a connection with Rome that I have with no other place. I’m attached by invisible strings. I’m half-haunted by the fact I was lost there as a child. 

See, being a DP is about balance; finding the right amount of "you" to mix in with "them". It's about seeing yourself as well as the director in your work. It's about being "half-haunted" by the fact that you're an artist as well as a collaborator—attached by "invisible strings" to your responsibility as a DP and your passion as an artist.

Source: wolfcrow