Jon Sayers Director of Photography

For over 20 years I've been shooting documentaries for UK and international filmmakers on a wide range of subjects. I've worked in most environments around the world, on projects that range from intimate stories to documenting large events or institutions. Whatever the scale of the film, I try to capture the subject cinematically, attuned to the nuances of life in front of me, and always with the aim of looking beyond the surface of things to try and uncover the meaning and significance that can lay hidden.

I love the collaborative nature of filmmaking. Building long-lasting relationships with directors and the subjects of their films is central to this. For me, listening is the most important tool I can bring to these relationships.

The style of cinematography, composition, camera movement and lighting all flow from this. There is an important technical aspect to filming but I try to push that into the background as much as possible so that it doesn’t overwhelm the subject. Gimbals, drones and other grip equipment can bring another layer of visual sophistication to a film when used appropriately but, whatever style and visual approach is decided upon, it's vital to create a calm and focussed filming environment. It's in this space, that a subject really reveals themselves and often a handheld camera is the most direct, discreet and responsive approach to capture these moments.

Awards and Nominations

9/11: Inside the President's War Room

Winner Rose D'Or Best Documentary 2021
Murder in the Car ParkRTS West Best Cinematography Nomination 2021
RTS West Best Documentary Nomination 2021
RTS West Best Director Nomination 2021
Arctic LiveGuild of Television Cameramen Nomination for Excellence 2017
Countdown to LifeGrierson Nomination for Best Science Documentary 2016
Guild of Television Cameramen Award for

Excellence 2016
Britain's Forgotten Slave OwnersRoyal Historical Society Public History Prize 2015
RTS Best History Documentary and Best Presenter

BAFTA Winner Specialist Factual 2016
Grierson Nomination Best History Documentary 2016
The WidowmakerMass Impact Award Boston Film Festival 2014
Inside ClaridgesPress Critics Award Best Factual Series 2012
The ForceBAFTA Best Director Factual 2010
Grierson Winner Best Documentary Series 2010
Russian GodfathersGrierson Winner Best Documentary Series 2006
The National TrustBAFTA Winner Best Factual Series 2004
Grierson Winner Best Documentary Series 2004
The LaunderetteSheffield Documentary Festival Screening 2006
The History of Islam in EuropeSelection for Prix d'Italia 2004
Calling Hedy LamarHonourable mention at 57th Locarno Film Festival 2004