Scribe Video Center presents a Master Class with acclaimed cinematographer Henry Adebonojo titled The Meaning of the Lens. For over 25 years, Adebonojo has been working in the visual field creating images and films. His work spans a variety of genres and pursuits – documentary films, promos and commercials, music videos and various other television programs.
Adebonojo’s work in documentary, however, has resulted in the most recognition of his craft. In 2001, he was nominated for an Emmy for the HBOdocumentary HALF PAST AUTUMN – THE LIFE AND WORKS OF GORDON PARKS. In 2016, Adebonojo was invited to contribute to the production for I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO directed by Raoul Peck, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Most recently, Adebonojo served as the Director of Photography for MAYNARD directed by Sam Pollard, a documentary about Atlanta’s first African American Mayor, Maynard Jackson. A seasoned cinematographer, Adebonojo gives this advice for emerging filmmakers in HDVideoPro Magazine, “Always be looking for your own particular voice, and learn your own way of seeing. It’s good to have references, it’s good to know the history of photography, but how do you develop your own voice within that? And I always encourage them to carry a camera with them, at the very least a still camera.”
Adebonojo’s master class will focus on lens choices in narrative and documentary filmmaking. While lighting is an important component of the emotional equation, the lens also has attributes that will affect how a viewer receives narrative elements of a given story. Adebonojo will introduce different types of lenses and the class will consider how the unique characteristics of each lens affect one’s visual sensibilities and pose questions about how to utilize them for dramatic effect. The class will consider many cinematic questions such as when one would use a wide angle lens versus a telephoto lens or when one would use a zoom as opposed to moving the camera itself.
For Adebonojo, the visual language of the camera and lenses can bring new meaning to a film. As he explains in HDVideoPro Magazine, “For any shot where there was movement, I literally either mounted the camera to the hood of a car [while filming I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO] or I was shooting through a sunroof. I used a Panasonic GH4 with Canon lenses for that. And that was really just a function of what I had on hand that could shoot 4K. I had used that combination as B-camera on a lot of other stuff prior. The second batch of stuff, which included the portraits, we did with the Canon C300 Mark II, and I used the Canon Cine Primes for that. Those lenses are much faster than the Canon lenses I own because they open up to, like, 1.3 and 1.5. And the shallow depth of field was an essential part of the process because we’re transitioning from those late-19th-century portraits, which tended to have shallow focus, to these contemporary portraits we were doing with a little bit of dolly movement.”