Calvin Khurniawan is a name that has emerged in the global cinematography scene for his unparalleled enthusiasm and distinctive style. Born in East Java, Indonesia, Khurniawan, captivated by the spellbinding power of visual storytelling, found his calling behind the camera. Initially dipping his toes into various facets of production, from interning as an art director assistant to producer assistant for Hulu’s show East Los High, Khurniawan soon realized his heart truly belonged behind the camera. Today, he is a renowned cinematographer.
Khurniawan’s portfolio is rich and varied, spanning different genres in the entertainment industry. Yet, his most recent fascination lies in three interwoven subjects—food, architecture, and design—a niche he’s immersed himself in, blending these elements to create evocative and captivating visuals.
Perhaps Khurniawan’s philosophy is best encapsulated by renowned director Denis Villenueve’s advice: to capture the human condition. This motto resonates deeply with Khurniawan, fueling his drive to capture life through his lens, whether it’s a day on set with music artist Conan Gray or illuminating the craftsmanship of a Michelin-star chef.
One of Khurniawan’s landmark achievements was when his short film Alchemist, which he directed and shot, was selected for the Stockholm Independent Film Festival in 2017. This recognition set the stage for future successes. Another notable project was the music video for Andrew Belle’s song “Down.” Khurniawan’s cinematography for the piece garnered widespread recognition, premiering on Paper Magazine and being featured on both Nowness and Vimeo’s Staff Pick. These accomplishments illustrate not only his talent but also his ability to create impactful and memorable visual narratives.
More recently, Khurniawan’s interest in food, architecture, and design has taken center stage in his work. This can be seen in the project “Cuisine & Couture,” a production by The City of Beverly Hills, where he seamlessly integrated elements of fashion and gastronomy. The project is a testament to Khurniawan’s skill in blending different disciplines and mediums to create a unique, immersive viewing experience.
Yet, the road to creating these visual masterpieces has its challenges. The biggest obstacle, according to Khurniawan, is time. Even in non-scripted projects, the clock is always ticking. A critical aspect of his job is collaborating with directors to hone in on what is necessary and what can be left on the cutting room floor. Yet, time constraints have also taught him the value of flexibility and trusting his instincts—an invaluable skill when filming non-scripted projects, often necessitating improvisation.
Through his work, Khurniawan continues to explore the nexus of food, architecture, and travel in his documentary projects, further establishing his place in this niche. His distinctive style, multidisciplinary background, and passion for capturing the human condition make his work a unique contribution to cinematography. As he continues to pioneer the intersection of culinary arts and cinematography, one cannot help but be excited about what’s next on his artistic journey. One thing is certain: Calvin Khurniawan is a name to watch in the world of cinematography.
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