Zhao Xiaoding, ASC was born and raised in Beijing, China. After a three-year stint as a professional athlete, he attended the Beijing Film Academy and studied cinematography.
After serving as a camera operator and 2nd-unit director of photography on Hero (shot by Christopher Doyle, HKSC), Zhao was hired by the film’s director, Zhang Yimou, on the wuxia (martial artist fantasy) romance film, House of Flying Daggers. For his work on the picture, Zhao was nominated for an Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, won four awards and earned eight additional nominations.
The project also spurred a longstanding professional relationship between Zhao and Zhang. The two have since collaborated on the features Curse of the Golden Flower (AC Jan. 2007); Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles; A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (aka A Simple Noodle Story) (AC Feb. 2011); Under the Hawthorn Tree; The Flowers of War; Coming Home; The Great Wall (which was co-photographed by Stuart Dryburgh, ASC, NZCS); and Shadow. The two also collaborated on “En Regardant le Film” from the French anthology film To Each His Own Cinema and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
Zhao’s work on more than 15 features have earned him numerous awards and nominations, including Golden Horse (Shadow), Golden Rooster (Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles) and Camerimage (Coming Home) nominations.
In addition to his decorated career as a cinematographer, Zhao served as producer on The Assassins — which he also photographed — and A Fool (aka Yi ge shao zi). In 2016, he directed and shot the Chinese romantic drama fantasy Once Upon a Time, which earned him a Best New Director award at the Macau International Movie Festival.
Zhao’s upcoming credits include the feature One Second (another collaboration with Zhang), which is scheduled to premiere in 2020.