Director of Photography


photo: lily glass

Melinda James is a Black and Thai cinematographer whose work encompasses documentaries, narratives, installations, commercials, and music videos. 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.

Most recently, Melinda DP’ed and co-directed, “Oklahoma is Black,” a poetic portrait of Black life in Oklahoma City which was nominated for Best Documentary Short at BlackStar and DC Black film festivals. She’s worked with Hulu, Netflix, Disney Channel, FX, and Pandora. Melinda was included on a list of “Mind Blowing Cinematographers” by Emmy Rossum & Free The Work, awarded an ASC Vision Mentorship with John Simmons, ASC, and is a member of the International Collective of Female Cinematographers.

  • 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.
  • Interview with Oakland North: Read.

︎            ︎