'1917' Cinematographer Roger Deakins Shares Personal Photos — On Sets and Off (Exclusive)

Roger Deakins - Getty - H 2020
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Long before the film legend earned 15 career Oscar noms, he developed a love for still photography that continues to this day. Deakins shares with The Hollywood Reporter an exclusive selection of arresting images taken during his travels.

Before legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins picked up a movie camera for the first time, the British DP had already discovered a love for still photography. "I used to paint as a kid and I went to art college," says Deakins, who entered a graphic arts program at Bath Academy of Art and was drawn to photography.

"I would hitchhike to Bristol and take pictures," he says, adding, “There was a really great dark room at college, and I forged a key so I worked in there at night."

It was at Bath that Deakins decided to apply to the U.K.'s then-new National Film School. "Most of my photography was very documentary-oriented; it seemed like a good opportunity," he says. "But I didn’t get in the first year.” Still, he visited and even sat down for an interview. “I asked why I wasn’t accepted and what the prospects were for the next year. It was quite nice that they held this interview even though they’d rejected my application. They basically said, ‘If you apply next year, you’ll get in, but we want more experienced people this year, with the school opening.’”

Deakins did just that, and less than a year later, he began to attend the school and set the course for his career. 

Today, Deakins is considered one of the most influential cinematographers ever, with credits including The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall and Blade Runner 2049 (for which he won his first Oscar in 2018). Despite all the accolades and a very busy schedule, the 70-year-old DP continues to pursue a passion for still photography that began with "a very cheap camera with a plastic lens."

Here, Deakins has curated stills from his personal collection, some of which were taken during downtime on shoots, others while roaming the U.K.: "I like wandering around with a camera — it's an excuse to observe things."

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.