Tanya Aizikovich

A pale green abandoned school bus sits in piled-up snow, in a still by Canon Ambassador Tanya Aizikovich.

Out on location in Northern Canada, where Tanya Aizikovich is filming The Amazing Tale of the Peace River Meteorite, a documentary directed by Yoav Shamir. "It's an amazing story about dreams," says Tanya. "The centre of the story is a meteorite, resting inside an abandoned school bus on a secluded farm. However, the essence of the story transcends the physical object, delving into the power of dreams and beliefs." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 C with a Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM lens at 16mm, 1/200 sec, f/2.8, and ISO 800. © Tanya Aizikovich

"I believe that the way you connect with people is a reflection of your identity, an integral part of who you are, and it inevitably manifests in your work as you unveil the world through your eyes, your own unique lens," says Canon Ambassador Tanya Aizikovich. "My goal is to tell compelling, beautifully shot stories and undertake projects that not only leave an indelible impact, but also resonate profoundly with those who watch them."

A documentary filmmaker and cinematographer, Tanya has spent the past two decades working as director of photography as part of both small crews and large productions, on films and TV series directed by award-winning filmmakers. Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, her work has taken her across the globe, and has been broadcast internationally on channels including VICE, HBO, ARTE, Sky Arts, ORF and CBC.

"Storytelling is my passion," says Tanya. "Showing the world, as I see it, constructing and defining each story and its characters through a unique cinematic language for each specific project, exhilarates me."

Born in the former Soviet Union, in Moldova, Tanya immigrated with her family to Israel when she was 10. Her father is an avid amateur photographer, who would take family photos and develop them in his dark room, and Tanya was given her first camera in her early teenage years. "I got really excited about photography, but honestly, I couldn't imagine I'd be pursuing it as a profession," she laughs. "Back then, the expectation was for me to have a 'real' job – you know, at least a doctor."

A headshot of Canon Ambassador Tanya Aizikovich. © Yosee Gamzoo Letova
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Specialist areas: Cinematographer, filmmaker

Favourite kit: Canon EOS C300 Mark III
CN-E35mm T1.5 FP X
CN-E50mm T1.3 FP X
Canon Ambassador Tanya Aizikovich stands at a tripod with a Canon video camera in a snowy landscape, filming a scene for The Amazing Tale of the Peace River Meteorite.

In the midst of the pristine snow-covered landscape of Northern Canada, Tanya films The Amazing Tale of the Peace River Meteorite, where an enigmatic meteorite takes centre stage in a story that spans decades. The film, currently in production, delves into the profound impact of the meteorite, igniting a narrative woven with hopes, dreams, and carefully guarded secrets. "It's like a language," Tanya says of filmmaking. "The more you practise, the better you can speak it. And then, you can express yourself in the best possible way to tell the story." © Yoav Shamir

Accepted into the competitive Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem to study photography, Tanya pursued her passion despite initial concerns. She studied in the joint department of photography and video, and found herself gravitating towards moving images. "It was a very organic process," she says. "I went to study photography, and then I fell in love with documentary filmmaking."

In school during the Second Intifada, Tanya describes herself as being quite politically active, which was echoed in her artistic pursuits that she's carried to this day. "I was, and still am, deeply invested in issues related to either identity or human rights," she says. "I was spending a lot of time documenting the harsh realities of the occupation, including house demolitions, expulsion and checkpoints. It was at this juncture that I realised I was primarily interested in people, in telling human stories."

A man in a wide-brimmed hat is silhouetted against a bonfire, in a still from Messiah, captured by cinematographer Tanya Aizikovich.

Tanya's work has explored religion and the impact of belief, including Messiah (2012). This documentary sheds light on the enigmatic Orthodox rabbi and influential Jewish leader, Rebbe of Lubavitch. Filming with the Canon EOS D60 as a second camera marked the beginning of Tanya's Canon journey. She later transitioned to the Canon EOS C300 series and currently works with the EOS C300 Mark III. Filmed on a Canon EOS D60. © Tanya Aizikovich

Motivated to deepen her understanding of filmmaking, Tanya pursued a Master's in Fine Arts in Film and Television at Tel Aviv University. It was during this period that she crossed paths with the late Judd Ne'eman, a film director and Israel Prize winner, and also one of her university professors. Impressed by her work, he offered her the role of cinematographer on his upcoming film.

"I was thrilled to work with him. I felt honoured – he was a highly awarded director, and most importantly, a remarkable human being," says Tanya. "I didn't realise at the time the magnitude of the opportunity he was giving me. He took a substantial risk by genuinely believing in me, by really giving me a chance." Along with the expertise and confidence she gained, this experience opened additional doors and networks for her. Her work eventually brought her into contact with the award-winning filmmaker Yoav Shamir, and they became long-term collaborators and creative partners, working on documentaries together over the past 15 years.

A still from cinematographer Tanya Aizikovich's showreel, showing a man with one false leg holding on to an opening garage-style door, staring out at rows of wooden supports. © Tanya Aizikovich

"When I was a child, I wanted to have a job that would take me places," says Tanya. Her work has since taken her from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Russia, France, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States, among others. As well as communicating through her footage, Tanya is fluent in Russian, Hebrew and English, with advanced Arabic speaking skills and some Spanish and French.

Her work in recent years has included Refuge (2019), showing the day-to-day life of women in shelters for victims of domestic violence, Late Bloomers (2021), a series following a diverse group of retirees and their unique approaches to life, and Why Like This? with Professor Dan Ariely (2022), a series that looks at decision-making with the help of scientific tools. For The Prophet and the Space Aliens (2020), Tanya filmed Rael, the founder and leader of the world's biggest UFO religion, and his followers, who believe he was appointed the 'last prophet' after an encounter with extraterrestrials, while The Elected (2022), an Israeli TV series, follows women in politics.

In 2023, Tanya earned a nomination for Best Cinematography at the Israeli Academy Awards for her exceptional work on three TV series, broadcast on Israeli television, further highlighting her talent in visually capturing compelling stories and diverse narratives.

"What motivates me as a creative person is probably the same as what drives me as a human being," says Tanya. "At the core, these are the most fundamental human values – empathy and compassion."

How important is connecting with your subjects when you are making films?

"This holds immense importance to me. My path as a cinematographer started from stills photography, drawing inspiration from Henri Cartier-Bresson. His words, 'Taking photographs is aligning one's head, eye and heart on the same axis,' continue to resonate with me. Connecting with subjects involves not only understanding their perspectives but also creating a space where they feel, and they are heard and seen. This alignment of the head, the eye and the heart is a reminder that cinematography's artistry goes beyond the visual realm; it extends to the emotional resonance achieved by immersing oneself in the subject's world. For me, this ongoing commitment to empathy and connection is not just a technique, it's an integral part of the art of cinematography (and the entire human experience) that breathes life into every frame and narrative."

As well as being behind the camera, you also direct and produce. Can you tell us about a film you've directed?

"My directorial debut, Veterans, premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2013. This film focuses on World War II veterans, once fighters in the Red Army and now uprooted immigrants, fighting for their place in society. These people, who experienced the 20th century's bloodiest war as Soviet soldiers, immigrated to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union and found themselves in a society that is totally indifferent to their glorious past. The film explores themes of immigration, heroism and old age, offering an intimate portrait of individuals who still perceive themselves as heroes, but find their significance questioned in a society that values different forms of heroism. The film also documents their journey back to the places where they once fought, exposing the tension between their memories and present-day reality."

What is one of the most rewarding things about your work?

"I absolutely love that my work as a cinematographer allows me to explore new worlds – social, visual and literal – and provides meaningful human connections. For instance, I shot a film called The Prophet and the Space Aliens about a man that is said to have encountered extraterrestrials 50 years ago, designating him as the 'last prophet'. How often do you come across 'prophets' in your everyday life unless you're doing what I do? We filmed historians and religious scholars, travelled to Burkina Faso and met an amazing community of people who live there and believe in this same prophet. Our journey extended to Japan, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and beyond. In just this one film, you encounter numerous people united by a common theme, each with distinct perspectives, ideas and life stories. Beyond the joy of travelling, there's the opportunity to engage in conversations with people from diverse backgrounds, learning and growing from each encounter. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to experience the richness of such moments in my work."

Have you faced any discrimination as a woman in a male-dominated industry and role?

"I grew up in a family that embraced equality. My mother is an economist and a remarkably strong woman. My father is an aeronautical engineer. Both are very supportive and empowering. Growing up, the notion of gender-specific roles was foreign to me. From the age of kindergarten, my father and I were disassembling and reassembling radios, including soldering, as a fun activity. I was never afraid of doing technical things nor was I deterred by the notion of gender dictating what I could or couldn't do. Reflecting on my journey, I acknowledge the privilege of my upbringing, as well as being fortunate, right from the onset of my career, to form meaningful connections with wonderful individuals who genuinely appreciated my skills. It took me a considerable amount of time working as a cinematographer before encountering the significant gender disparity as well as instances of, 'Oh, you're a woman, can you do it?' or 'Let me show you how this is done…' or 'But this is what I would pay a good male cinematographer, is this really your fee?' echoing sentiments that challenge my capabilities based on gender rather than merit. The fight against gender discrimination is an ongoing journey, and my belief in a future where talent and merit triumph over biases keeps me motivated. I envision an industry where individuals are judged based on their skills and contributions, rather than preconceived notions tied to gender."

How have your personal experiences shaped your filmmaking?

"We are all shaped by our life experiences. Growing up in one country and then moving to another at a young age, I felt truly out of place. When we moved to Tel Aviv, there were not many Russian-speaking immigrants in our neighbourhood, and I found myself in a class in elementary school navigating without a language or any familiar surroundings. On one hand, I arrived in a place that was nice and open-minded, but on the other, I truly experienced a sense of being different in the deepest way, being the outsider, the complete 'other'. I believe this experience has profoundly influenced who I am and also impacted my filmmaking, shaping the way I connect with people on an eye level, no matter where I am. It's not a conscious decision; it's an integral part of the person I've become."

One thing I know

Tanya Aizikovich

"I often find myself developing a sort of affection for the individuals I capture on film, even if only momentarily. I think that this emotional connection aids in my understanding of them, enabling me to portray their essence more effectively on screen. While there are instances where I film people I may not particularly like, I subconsciously strive to discover something likeable about them, even if only for a brief moment."

Facebook: @tanya.aizikovich

Instagram: @tanya.aizikovich


Tanya Aizikovich's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Canon Ambassador Tanya Aizikovich's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories. © Yosee Gamzoo Letovash


Canon EOS C300 Mark III

A versatile 4K Super 35mm Cinema EOS System camera, offering 120P Slow motion, High Dynamic Range and Dual Pixel CMOS AF, is Tanya's first choice. "This is my go-to camera, especially for solo-projects. With excellent ergonomics, DGO sensor and Canon's colour science, it enables me to work independently and still deliver unparalleled cinematic quality."

Canon EOS C70

This RF Mount Cinema camera features Canon's 4K Super 35mm DGO sensor, and is the perfect second unit for Tanya's Canon EOS C300 Mark III. "I filmed a TV series with both of these cameras and I don't think anyone who isn't me can tell what was shot with which camera," she says. "They cut together perfectly."


Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM

A fast f/2.8 aperture lens, delivering smooth, soft bokeh and highlights. "I really like to choose the lenses according to the project and the subject," says Tanya. "If I want to be very intimate, I work with wider lenses."

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

The RF 24-70mm boasts a fast aperture and image stabilisation plus a Nano USM motor for silent focusing. "In certain situations, you don't have the time or the option to change lenses quickly," says Tanya. "A 24-70mm lens will help you tell your story with detail and clarity, whatever the situation."

Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

A small and light lens with a fast f/1.8 aperture, ideal in low light and great for creative depth of field. "I have always been a big fan of the 50mm focal length and this lens is a good choice when seeking a compact solution," says Tanya.


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