John Harris: the cinematographer’s cameraman

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2 August 2012

Feted British film technician dies aged 87.

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John Harris was the boy from south London who captured the fall of Hong Kong on a stills camera before becoming one of the British film industry’s most dependable technical stalwarts.

 Fascinated by cameras from an early age, Harris started work in the camera department at Gainsborough Pictures as a clapper boy and focus puller. He served in the navy during World War II and was an official naval photographer at the Japanese surrender in Hong Kong in 1945. After the war he trained as a freelance camera operator.

Early in his career, he met the cinematographer Bob Krasker and went on to work with him on 20 films over a period of 16 years, including Another Man's Poison and Romeo and Juliet. He also worked with other legendary DOPs Chris Challis (A Shot in the Dark) and Ted Scaife and directors Carol Reed, Ken Hughes, Guy Hamilton and Richard Donner.

He retired in 1996, having worked on 107 films including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Man with the Golden Gun (pictured) and The Collector