In 1993, Steven Spielberg directed Schindler’s List, marking the first collaboration between Spielberg and Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski. Kaminski has worked on every Spielberg film since, and they both won Oscars for their work on Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. Kaminski’s shared filmography with Spielberg has also resulted in Oscar nominations for Amistad and War Horse. When not working with Spielberg, the Poland-native has brought his impeccable sense of lighting and camera movement to films as diverse as Jerry Maguire, Funny People, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the latter for which Kaminski also received an Oscar nomination. Spielberg and Kaminski’s latest collaboration, Lincoln, has surpassed all expectations at the box office and resulted in Kaminski receiving a Critics Choice nomination for Best Cinematography. In celebration, I recently enjoyed a conversation with Kaminski about his work on the film. Here’s what Kaminski shared with me about his process of working of Spielberg, meeting the challenges presented by Tony Kushner’s unique and excellent screenplay, and crafting Lincoln.
Jackson Truax: In 1994 you won your first Oscar for Schindler’s List. How did winning the Oscar change your life or career?
Janusz Kaminski: It changed my life and career in every aspect. I didn’t have to work at getting jobs. The jobs became more interesting. I had more chances to select better work. Nevertheless, I stuck with Steven. And I’ve done every single movie that he’s done. So it changed my life in the sense that I’ve made a really good partnership with Steven. And we’ve made some really good movies.