Movies in Color, the latest Tumblr obsession, matches color stills from films with their corresponding color palettes. It's weirdly beautiful and hypnotic, and also comes with a depressing reminder: there are almost no women cinematographers working in film today.
Started by graphic designer Roxy Radulescu, the process for creating each palette is detailed/fascinating:
Research is first. I search for stills that are compositionally interesting as well as rich in color. I use the help of a color generator to get a very basic range of swatches. Then I piece together the general palette from that and other colors I think are prominent or worth including from the still. It’s all done in Photoshop to keep layout and swatch sizes consistent and to facilitate color sampling from the image.
Sadly/predictably, there isn't one female cinematographer on the list of 24. You can't fault Radulescu because it's a field so heavily dominated by men. And we're not talking by just a little — according to the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film, of the highest grossing 250 films of 2012, only two percent were shot by women.
Even more awful, a historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2012 and 1998 reveals that the amount of lady cinematographers has actually declined. Not good.
Thinking back to film school, I remember so many talented female classmates who were excellent DPs (Director of Photography, or what cinematographer's are often called) — but none of them are working in the field today. Many of them moved into set design, graphic design, and photography; none of them followed their dreams of becoming DPs.
That's fair; people change — but coupled with the fact that so few women are working in the profession, you have to wonder about what's going on.
Is it just that there are so few cinematographer jobs and the men who have those jobs will never let go? Is it that there aren't very many DP role models for women? Is it that very few people in Hollywood think it's a problem and so nobody with power considers it? Maybe a little of all of the above?
Or maybe it's just that women don't want to be cinematographers? Yeah, that's probably it.