Elliot Davis (cinematographer)

Elliot Davis (born May 23, 1948) is an American cinematographer.

Elliot Davis
Born (1948-05-23) May 23, 1948
Years active1976–present

Davis graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and a Master of Fine Arts in Film from UCLA.[1] Davis feels his tenure as an architect carries over into his shooting style.[2]

Davis began his career in the mid 1970s, acting as cinematographer on the drama Harvest: 3,000 Years. He also would act as the camera operator for various films, including Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders and Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire. Davis would collaborate frequently with several directors, including Steven Soderbergh (King of the Hill, The Underneath, Gray's Anatomy, Out of Sight), Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, The Nativity Story, Twilight) are we have nd Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam, Love the Coopers).

Davis was the director of photography for Nate Parker's controversial directorial debut The Birth of a Nation. Davis was not familiar with Parker prior to receiving the script, but soon forged a creative connection with him, using films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford as influence for the look of Nation.[3]

Additional works include The Cutting Edge, Father of the Bride Part II, Equinox, Larger Than Life, Forces of Nature, 40 Days and 40 Nights, White Oleander, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, A Love Song for Bobby Long, The Iron Lady, Man of Tai Chi and the upcoming Above Suspicion.

For his work on Equinox and The Underneath, Davis received two nominations for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography.


Year Title Director Notes
1976 Harvest: 3,000 Years Haile Gerima
Independence Day Bobby Roth
1979 The Onion Field Harold Becker
The Tenth Month Joan Tewkesbury Television film
1980 Used Cars Robert Zemeckis
1981 Broken English Michie Gleason
1982 Death Valley Dick Richards
1983 The Outsiders Francis Ford Coppola
Something Wicked This Way Comes Jack Clayton
Return Engagement Alan Rudolph Documentary
1984 Racing with the Moon Richard Benjamin Uncredited
1985 Tuff Turf Fritz Kiersch
St. Elmo's Fire Joel Schumacher
Trouble in Mind Alan Rudolph
1986 8 Million Ways to Die Hal Ashby
Blue City Michelle Manning
Vamp Richard Wenk
1987 Summer Heat Michie Gleason
Mayflower Madam Lou Antonio Television film
1988 Miles from Home Gary Sinise
1969 Ernest Thompson
1989 Signs of Life John David Coles
Bloodhounds of Broadway Howard Brookner
1990 Bright Angel Michael Fields
Love at Large Alan Rudolph
1991 Shakes the Clown Bobcat Goldthwait
Mortal Thoughts Alan Rudolph
1992 Memphis Yves Simoneau Television film
The Cutting Edge Paul Michael Glaser
Equinox Alan Rudolph Nominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
1993 King of the Hill Steven Soderbergh
Mother's Boys Yves Simoneau
1994 Mr. Write Charlie Loventhal
The Glass Shield Charles Burnett
1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead Gary Fleder
Father of the Bride Part II Charles Shyer
The Underneath Steven Soderbergh Nominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
1996 Nightjohn Charles Burnett Television film
Gray's Anatomy Steven Soderbergh
Get on the Bus Spike Lee
Larger than Life Howard Franklin
1997 Lawn Dogs John Duigan
1998 Out of Sight Steven Soderbergh
Finding Graceland David Winkler
1999 Forces of Nature Bronwen Hughes
Light It Up Craig Bolotin
Breakfast of Champions Alan Rudolph
2000 The Next Best Thing John Schlesinger
2001 I Am Sam Jessie Nelson
Happy Campers Daniel Waters
2002 40 Days and 40 Nights Michael Lehmann
White Oleander Peter Kosminsky
2003 Thirteen Catherine Hardwicke
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
2004 A Love Song for Bobby Long Shainee Gabel
2005 Lords of Dogtown Catherine Hardwicke
2006 The Nativity Story
2008 Surfer, Dude S.R. Bindler
Twilight Catherine Hardwicke
Personal Effects David Hollander
2011 The Iron Lady Phyllida Lloyd
A Year in Mooring Chris Eyre SXSW Film Festival - Best Cinematography - Narrative Competition
2013 Man of Tai Chi Keanu Reeves
Louder Than Words Anthony Fabian
2015 The Runner Austin Stark
Love the Coopers Jessie Nelson
Miss You Already Catherine Hardwicke
2016 The Birth of a Nation Nate Parker
2017 Above Suspicion Phillip Noyce
2018 A Love of Money Elliot Davis
Dumplin' Anne Fletcher
Surfing in Afghanistan R.T. Herwig
2019 Uncorked Prentice Penny


  1. "Elliot Davis". Cinematographers.nl. 1948-05-23. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  2. Dana Harris (2016-01-26). "How I Shot That: DP Elliot Davis on the Rigor and Speed it Took to Create 'The Birth of a Nation'". IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  3. "DP Elliot Davis Focuses on "The Birth of a Nation"". SHOOTonline.com. 2016-11-17. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
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