Director of Photography


photo: lily glass

Melinda James is a Black and Thai cinematographer whose work encompasses documentaries, narratives, installations, and commercials. As a kid growing up in Yuba City, California, she enjoyed looking through toy viewfinders; it wasn't until much later that she realized cinematography is not just about looking, but about building points of connection. Centering her work on women, QTBIPOC, and underrepresented communities, Melinda is drawn to the process of unearthing the nuances of people’s everyday lives. She believes a good image is the starting point for communication, but it’s in the space between images where dialogue happens. With a current interest in themes of memorialization, memory, and the intersection of past, present, and future, Melinda has been exploring video installations in an attempt to think of ways to shape more immersive experiences when dealing with seemingly intangible topics.

Most recently, Melinda lensed the narrative short, “Work,” which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is currently working on a project as an Adobe Creative Fund Residency recipient. She’s worked with Hulu, Netflix, Disney Channel, Nike, FX, and Pandora and was awarded an ASC Vision Mentorship with John Simmons, ASC. She is a member of the International Collective of Female Cinematographers, Sporas, The Authority Collective and Level Ground Collective.

Selected Press
  • postPerpective: Sundance: DP Melinda James on Shooting Short Film ‘Work’: Read.
  • In Her Lens - 12: Melinda James on Viewfinding and ‘Oklahoma is Black’: Listen.
  • UCSC Alumni Magazine - Melinda James: ‘The Language of Film’: Read.
  • VoyageLA - Meet Melinda James: Read.
  • Picture Lock Radio: Ep. 127 - Oklahoma is Black - DC Black Film Festival/BlackStar Film Festival - Listen.
  • KQED Arts - Women To Watch: Melinda James: Read.
  • SF Weekly: Artist of Day – A feature on Finalists of the Masterminds contest: Read.

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