Lawrence Sher

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Lawrence Sher
Born (1970-02-04) February 4, 1970 (age 52)
Occupation(s)Cinematographer, film director
Jessica Aronoff
(m. 1998⁠–⁠2017)
PartnerHema Patel

Lawrence Sher, ASC[1] (born February 4, 1970) is an American cinematographer and film director, best known for comedy films such as Garden State, The Dictator, and The Hangover series, frequently collaborating with directors Todd Phillips and Zach Braff.[2][3][4] He made his directorial debut with Father Figures, which began a wide theatrical release on December 22, 2017, by Warner Bros. Pictures. He was nominated for an Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography for the 2019 film Joker, directed by Phillips.

Life and career[edit]

Sher was born to a Jewish family[5] and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he attended and graduated in 1988 from Teaneck High School. His father, Paul, had been a doctor at New York University Medical Center, while his mother, Joan, was a teacher and taught at the Queens-based Lexington School for the Deaf. It was on a high school-sponsored trip to Paris that Sher first developed a love for photography, after his father convinced him to take a 35mm camera along with him on the trip. Sher has maintained his connections to Teaneck, staying in the basement of his aunt's home there during the filming of Garden State, where he was able to use love of his home state to make location shots there make it appear as what The Record described as a "verdant wonderland". He expressed great pride for his hometown of Teaneck and its diversity, recalling how he "spent a lot of time with an eclectic group of people. There's nothing homogenized about Teaneck even though you're in the middle of suburban New Jersey."[6]

He attended Wesleyan University, where he had initially planned to pursue a career in medicine followed by his identical twin brother Andy, who later became a urologist. After taking a course on film history, Sher developed an immediate interest in cinema, recalling that "All I wanted to do was spend every waking moment learning about movies and cinematography." He decided on majoring in economics and graduated from Wesleyan in 1992.[6]

After graduating from college, he moved to Los Angeles and immediately pursued a career in motion pictures. He started as a gaffer on a video shoot and an assistant on commercials before working his way up to cinematographer. Sher's first major release was the 2001 film Kissing Jessica Stein. He achieved critical success with the 2004 movie Garden State.[6] Duane Byrge of The Hollywood Reporter, in his review for the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, credited Sher's compositions with "pack[ing] insight into the character's psychological states".[7] Sher also has worked on 2007's Dan in Real Life starring Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche and the 2009 release I Love You, Man with Paul Rudd. While Sher aspires to direct, he is in no rush given that "I don't think I’ve fulfilled all of my goals as a cinematographer yet".[6]

As cinematographer of the 2009 film The Hangover, Sher described how a scene early in the movie shows the main characters on the roof of their hotel overlooking a stereotypical shot of the Las Vegas Strip; Sher indicated that he had tried to evoke the behind-the-scenes Vegas—after the characters wake up the following morning—by shooting a scene behind the hotels where the real action takes place. Actor Bradley Cooper credited Sher's visual style with enhancing the film's comedy, noting how Sher has "a great eye, a lot of energy and he just knows what's funny" and that "Some guys just can’t shoot comedies, but Larry knows exactly what he's doing."[6]

With the success of Zach Braff's Kickstarter, Sher worked on Braff's 2014 feature, Wish I Was Here.[8]

In January 2020, Sher was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on the movie Joker, but lost to Roger Deakins for 1917.

Personal life[edit]

As of 2019, Sher lives in Los Angeles, California, together with his partner Hema Patel and his 13-year-old son, Max, and daughter Matilda.[6] He was previously married to Jessica Aronoff from 1998 to 2017.



Year Title Director Notes
1995 Captain Jack Scott Wiper
1997 Courting Courtney Paul Tarantino
2000 A Better Way to Die Scott Wiper
2001 Kissing Jessica Stein Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
2002 Emmett's Mark Keith Snyder
2004 Garden State Zach Braff
Club Dread Jay Chandrasekhar
2005 The Chumscrubber Arie Posin
The Dukes of Hazzard Jay Chandrasekhar
2006 Grilled Jason Ensler
2007 Dan in Real Life Peter Hedges
2008 The Promotion Steven Conrad
2009 I Love You, Man John Hamburg
The Hangover Todd Phillips 1st of 6 collaborations with Phillips
2010 Due Date
2011 The Hangover Part II
The Big Year David Frankel
Paul Greg Mottola
2012 The Dictator Larry Charles
2013 The Hangover Part III Todd Phillips
2014 Wish I Was Here Zach Braff
2016 War Dogs Todd Phillips
2019 Godzilla: King of the Monsters Michael Dougherty
2019 Joker Todd Phillips Camerimage Golden Frog
Camerimage Audience Award
Nominated- Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Nominated- Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- St. Louis Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
2020 Daughter Theodore Melfi Short film
2021 The Starling
2022 Black Adam Jaume Collet-Serra
2024 Joker: Folie à Deux Todd Philips Filming

Additional photography credits[edit]

Year Title Director DoP. Notes
1998 Progeny Brian Yuzna James Hawkinson
2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Ben Stiller Stuart Dryburgh
2014 Godzilla Gareth Edwards Seamus McGarvey
2015 Aloha Cameron Crowe Éric Gautier
2021 Jungle Cruise Jaume Collet-Serra Flavio Labiano Atlanta Unit


Year Title Notes
2017 Father Figures
2021 Rutherford Falls 3 episodes


  1. ^ "The ASC Roster". American Society of Cinematographers. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  3. ^ "Lawrence Sher Credits - Movies, TV Shows -". 3 January 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ "LAWRENCE SHER - Director Of Photography Interview".
  5. ^ Bloom, Nate (December 19, 2017). "Norman Lear goes to the Kennedy Center, the Pentagon Papers go to the movies". The Jewish News of Northern California.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Longsdorf, Amy. "Cameraman always has eye on Jersey roots", The Record (Bergen County), June 1, 2009. Accessed June 2, 2009.
  7. ^ Byrge, Duane. "Garden State", The Hollywood Reporter, January 19, 2004. Accessed June 2, 2009.
  8. ^ "WISH I WAS HERE".

External links[edit]