L.Roger Deakins was a photographer long before he became a cameraman. The filmmaker’s eye, which earned Deakins 15 Oscar nominations (and two Academy Awards) for acclaimed work with the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes, and others, found its first expression in documentary photography of rural north Devon in the early 1970s .
Some of these formative images of farm laborers and country markets are gathered in the first monograph of Deakin’s photographic work. They take their place alongside images like this one that was captured on the set of The reader, the film based on Bernhard Schlink’s Holocaust novel, which was shot in Germany in 2007. Although Deakins says he often used a photo camera to take pictures of locations or to plan lighting systems for specific scenes, occasionally when off duty and on set, he returned to his. back first calling, just looking for little moments to grab his attention.
The picture of the hands in front of the window of a vintage train they had been using was one of those moments. Although for some eyes it may be shaded by Schlink’s book, “for me,” says Deakins, “that image had nothing to do with the making of the film, or the subject of the film, or what we were doing that day. We were wrapped up and everyone was sitting on the train and basically going home. I happened to have my camera with me. “
That kind of downtime is also the story of other photographs in his book, he says. Filmmaking is obviously an intensely collaborative business. “I loved being on sets and working with the same people for five or six months to achieve a common goal,” says Deakins. “But I’m also a very private person.” Walking with your camera was a way to find some time and space for yourself. “And when you come back with a shot that you like, at least you have the feeling that you have achieved something.”