Stanley Kubrick’s “Killer’s Kiss”: 12 Shots of Composition

Stanley Kubrick began his career as a teenage photographer in New York City. While still a teenager he began working for LOOK Magazine shooting street scenes throughout the Gotham city. Early he was noted for his «story telling style» of photographs. He excelled in photoessays where the photos told the story for themselves, large nighttime environmental street scenes, portraits of individuals in mundane setting, and his ability to create lighting, in either natural or set up, for dramatic effect. It was while he was a photographer he also developed an interest in photographing boxing matches and nightclub jazz musicians. All these were incorporated in his first feature film «Killer’s Kiss». In the style of the Noir Films that at the time was waning but still somewhat in vogue at the time.

Kubrick not only directed but was the cinematographer of his debut. And the primary visual impression is one of a street photographer seeing the city and scenes. Probable more then any other director in Hollywood, Kubrick understood photography: Whether it was the intimacy of «Lolita». The dramatic positioning of «Dr. Strangelove», the wide open environment of space with «2001». The masterwork photographic techniques of «Barry Lydon.

In this his first film, he touches on all those elements that would become his later hallmarks.

1 Foreground
2. Close Up
3. Low Angles
4. High Angles
5. Background (and Background Commentary)
6. Environmental
7.Perspective/Tunnel Shots
8. Silhouettes
9.Shadow Play
10. Reflections
11. Frame Shots
12. Detail (or action in slow motion

For a full explanation of these Composition elements please see first:
The Bumdog School of Film (Part Two): The 12 Shots of Composition (Edited Version)

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