Justly reputed by everyone (across the board) as the most gifted cinematographer of the 20th century, Sven Nykvist was one of a handful of practitioners of that craft who raised working with cinematic light (as a director of photography and a camera operator) to the level of an art form, on par with Rembrandt, Monet, and Van Gogh. His legacy is inextricable from that of his lifelong collaborator, Ingmar Bergman, under whose aegis Nykvist instantly built his reputation. (It can hardly be deemed accidental that reviews of masterworks such as Through a Glass Darkly , Winter Light , Persona , and Fanny and Alexander  invariably begin by praising those films' gradations of luminescence.) One thus cannot overestimate Nykvist's contribution to cinema or his impact on our way of looking at the world.
For the first decade of his career, Nykvist paired up with directors including Rolf Husberg on Barnen Från Frostmofjället (1945), Lennart Wallen on Lata Lena Ocla Bla Ogde Per (1947), and Schamyl Bauman on Maj på Malö (1948), as well as the legendary Alf Sjöberg, on Barabbas (1953). During the '50s, he also directed a feature about his missionary family's interaction with a witch doctor, shot in the Belgian Congo, called Under the Southern Cross (1956), and made a documentary about Albert Schweitzer.