Ben Davis (b. 1961) started his career at Samuelsons Camera House, now a part of the motion picture equipment company Panavision. He worked as clapper loader, focus puller, and camera operator in both feature films and commercials. Ben started as a Cinematographer in commercials and pop promos, shooting award winning spots with directors such as Daniel Barber, Steve Reeves and Daniel Klienman.
Davis has particularly made his mark as a cinematographer of choice for comic book and fantasy adaptations, most recently linking up with Joss Wheadon of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel fame for the work on Avengers: Age of Ultron. He has recently finished shooting another Marvel project, the James Gunn-helmed Guardians of the Galaxy, while his previous credits include the Matthew Vaughn-directed Layer Cake, Stardust and Kick-Ass, as well as Wrath of the Titans and Seven Psychopaths. However, Davis’ talents do not stop there – he has been equally impressive shooting the stories set in pastoral landscapes and mundane or domestic settings such as the wonderful British countryside whimsy Tamara Drewe (Stephen Frears, 2009) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, 2010).
Perhaps most unexpected and remarkable is Davis’ recent contribution to the American hit series Masters of Sex (2013), where he was the DOP for the first episode and set the creative tone for the rest of the Season 1. What Davis brought to this period drama about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality whose research set off the sexual revolution is his comic book feel – the characters look like they have stepped off the pages of 1950’s penny-a-pop comics. He also utilised lots of romantic looking soft-focus photography.
Fans agree that Ben Davis has a so called “old school” approach to cinematography with his beautifully established shots, natural colour palettes and smooth flowing camera moves and steadicams. He allows the story and the visual theme to be the focus rather than the camera operation. His style of cinematography very much harks back to the glory days of great photography in film and is a proof that a DP can showcase an expertly crafted and choreographed action sequence without resorting to the quick-cut frenetic blur so overused in many mainstream releases these days.