Mr. Robot conjures the photo style of photojournalist Don Rutledge

Portia Doubleday and Rami Malek in the pilot episode of “Mr. Robot”

I love the depth in the imagery in the cinema-photography.


by Don Rutledge

I was talking to my long time friend Ken Touchton on the phone. We had both talked about the TV show Mr. Robot.

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We were talking about the photography style of the show and quite frankly it is unique. We were thinking that with today’s large screen TVs of LCD Sizes 32, 40, 42, 46, 52, 55, 70, 82 it was now bringing the cinema into our homes. The BIG SCREEN has finally arrived so that the director of photography for TV shows is no longer limited.

John Howard Griffin the author of Black Like Me walking down street in New Orleans. photo by Don Rutledge.

The last show that Ken Touchton watched he actually turned the sound down and just watched and studied and this was when he realized it was like watching Don Rutledge’s photography once again. You can see in this 1956 photo of John Howard Griffin walking down the street the similarity of using the negative space.

by Don Rutledge

Now to run Don’s work in a newspaper was more difficult than in a magazine. In a magazine the designer would take a photo like this one above and run it across two pages. Sitting in your lap it has the same affect as a 55″ TV screen would have across the room–Cinematic as we might call it today.

Using negative space like this helped Don to create mood both positive and negative to help tell a story.

by Don Rutledge

Don had a way of finding a wonderful scene and then letting the scene unfold with the people moving in and out of the frame. You will see this over and over in Mr. Robot.

by Don Rutledge

This photo of a Russian pastor is a great example of one of the compositions used over and over in the TV Show.

by Don Rutledge

When two people are in the photos in Mr. Robot you see this quite often.

Here is how Don Rutledge has shot some street scenes in the past.

by Don Rutledge

Don created tension by playing things off of each other in his compositions.

While the director of photography for Mr. Robot is doing what they think is unique it has been around a long time, just harder to see in the media when it started in magazines like LIFE magazine back in the 1950’s.

While most of today’s video is 50% the closeup Mr. Robot is pulling upon a style of the great photojournalists like Don Rutledge.