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Bitzer, Billy (21 April 1872–29 April 1944), motion picture cameraman, was born in the Roxbury section of Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Johann Martin Bitzer, a blacksmith and harness maker, and Anne Marie Schmidt. His brother John C. Bitzer became a well-known photographer. Baptized as Johann Gottlieb Wilhelm (recorded on his birth record as John William), Bitzer formally changed his name to George William but was known professionally as “G. W.” or “Billy.” Almost nothing is known of his early life or education. While in his early twenties Bitzer moved to New York and apparently attended night classes at Cooper Union, where he studied electrical engineering. He then worked as an electrician....

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Howe, James Wong (28 August 1899–12 July 1976), motion picture cinematographer, was born Wong Tung Jim How in Kwantung (Canton), China, the son of Wong How. His mother’s name is unknown. He moved to the United States in 1904 to join his father and his stepmother (who had immigrated months after his birth) and was raised in Pasco, Washington. His name was changed to James Wong Howe on his first day at school. His father died in 1914, and the family general store business failed. Howe left and moved to Ferndale, Oregon, where he attended high school and worked for a friend of his late father’s, Smith O’Brian....

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Kalmus, Herbert Thomas (09 November 1881–11 July 1963), and Natalie Mabelle Dunfee Kalmus (1883–15 November 1965), cinematographer, were born, respectively, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and Norfolk, Virginia. Herbert was the son of Benjamin G. Kalmus and Ada Isabella Gurney, musicians. Natalie was the daughter of George Kayser Dunfee (wife’s name unknown). Herbert attended schools in Boston and intended to become a concert pianist, but he gave up the idea when he injured his fingers playing baseball. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he received a B.S. in physics in 1904. He married Natalie in 1902; they had no children. When very young Natalie had moved with her parents to Boston. She attended Stetson University in Florida, the Boston School of Art, and the Curry School of Expressionism in Boston....

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See Kalmus, Herbert Thomas

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Mohr, Hal (02 August 1894–10 May 1974), cinematographer, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of a prominent businessman. Raised in an upper-middle-class family, Mohr demonstrated his interest in motion picture technology from an early age. His childhood toys included a magic lantern slide projector. He was exposed to moving pictures at age eleven, when films depicting the devastation of the 1906 earthquake were screened widely in his hometown. “That was a miracle,” he recalled to an American Film Institute seminar in 1973, “I had no idea how it was done. So that became the aim of my life, to find out how that picture was made to move. It’s been the aim of my life ever since.” In 1909 he began working for the Miles Brothers film company, inspecting movie prints. There he got his hands on a projector and with some inventive tinkering turned it into a camera. He shot news events and sold his short, amateurish films to local theaters, dropping out of high school to pursue filmmaking....

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Struss, Karl Fischer (30 November 1886–16 December 1981), photographer and cinematographer, was born in New York City, the son of Henry W. Struss, a silk-mill owner and later a bonnet-wire manufacturer, and Marie Fischer. Struss worked at his father’s factory for eleven years; in the evenings from 1908 to 1912 he studied photography under Clarence White, the pictorial photographer and influential photography educator, at Teachers College, Columbia University. In 1910 Struss first attracted attention when ...