Well known for his collaborations with director Christopher Nolan, he is a Director of photography who won the 2010 Oscar for Inception. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematographer for Nolan's films Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight.
He first became interested in the film industry at the age of 11 when a film company shot scenes of the 1973 picture Shamus in the New York neighborhood in which he lived.
He made his directorial debut with a sci-fi film called Transcendence which starred Johnny Depp.
He was raised in the New York suburb of Irvington-on-Hudson by parents Patricia Ann and Walter J. Pfister, Jr.
Robert Altman gave him one of his first film jobs, hiring to do some B-roll on the 1988 HBO mini-series Tanner '88.