The holidays are certainly the time and the place to celebrate, devour delicious food and rejoice with families. It is also the perfect time to curl up on a cold winter day with a good book or spend the day in bed watching photography movies.
It’s a list of movies for photographers, connected to the profession or loosely related to it. That being said, photographers will find inspiration in any piece of cinematography, so here are some movies about photography we think you will enjoy.
1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
The first photography movie on our must-watch list list is captivating in the depiction of the fantasies and dreams of the main character, Walter Mitty. Walter is a negative assets manager at Life Magazine. He leads a simple life and one day sets out on a mission to find an important negative #25, to complete the work of his partner and to save the new issue of the magazine. An adventurous spirit is awakened as Walter sets out on a journey he has literally dreamt about.
2. Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (2012)
If you’ve had the chance to see Gregory Crewdson’s works, you already know he is a legend of our time. His works are powerful, captivating, and thought-provoking. This movie is about the photographer’s creative process, and how he brings to life the mesmerizing images based off of his dreams. This is a documentary-style film that has been shot over a decade and gives a glimpse of the very talented and gifted creative individual.
3. Hand Held (2010)
In 1989, Romania was struggling right after the fall of the communist regime. Mike Carrol, a documentary photographer, travels to Romania in the heat of the conflict and captures some of the most horrifying and shocking scenes of the surprising scene of 20th century Romania. Mike tells heart-wrenching stories and opens up the eyes of the western world to the condition of the helpless in Romania.
4. The Bang Bang Club (2010)
The Bang Bang Club is an emotional photography movie exploring a heavy topic. The film follows the journeys of four photographers that set out to document the Apartheid in South Africa. The characters went to extreme measures to capture what was happening in a torn country to bring the stories back with them. This movie about photography is based on the book The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots From a Hidden War.
5. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
Partially based on a true story, this movie explores a fragment in the life of a famous photographer, Diane Arbus. Starring Nicole Kidman, the eccentric photographer that is also a shy housewife, the movie is about mystery, exploration, and unique talent. The main character pursues taking pictures of people that don’t fit into societal realms and borders.
6. William Eggleston: In The Real World (2005)
William Eggleston is known as one of the greats in American photography. He is a man of a few words but with an impressive acquired title of “The Father of Color Photography”. Some artists just don’t like talking about their work which is what makes this movie about photography so valuable and interesting. We get insights into William’s personality, his work, and his contribution to the world of photography. He is a true icon and an inspiration for artists across the world.
7. One Hour Photo (2002)
Featuring Robin Williams (Sy) as the main character, the thriller-like photography movie is about a one-hour photo clerk who becomes obsessed with a family. Sy runs a photo processing department in a store and is very proud of the work that he does. We’re introduced to his favorite customers, a happy family with a young boy. The family isn’t aware of Sy’s fascination with their family, a fascination that extends well beyond all reasonable boundaries.
8. City of God (2002)
“City of God” deserves a special spot on our list as it was regarded as a ‘masterpiece of contemporary Brazilian cinema’. The film explores the themes of poverty, crime, violence, and drugs. Set in the slums in Rio de Janeiro, the story follows the lives of two young boys, one of them a talented photographer. This photographers’ favorite not only stands out in terms of relevant themes but also shocks in terms of the performances and the gritty depiction of events. All these things make it an impressive piece of cinematography and one of the must-watch movies for photographers.
9. War Photographer (2001)
War Photographer is a story about a photojournalist, James Nachtwey. He is an extremely passionate professional that is in the pursuit of covering global conflicts. Through bravery and perseverance, James is able to capture moments others would not dare. He uncovers the raw reality and the brutality behind a country torn apart by war. His lenses capture death and violence while the artist creates beautiful art in the process to deliver a loud message that doesn’t require words. It’s also one of the best photography movies that highlight social issues.
10. Blow-up (1966)
The plot of this legendary photography movie follows the events in Thomas’s life. Thomas is a fashion photographer based in London as one day he makes a startling discovery. While developing his film, he notices he captured a murder taking place in the background of one of his photographs. This must-watch movie raises a question about the essence of photography; do we see what we want to see? In what ways is truth illuminated by photography? This movie is a classic for those interested in photography.
11. Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge (1989)
Helmut Newton is a fashion and ad photographer well-known for pictures of tall, usually blonde, and elegant women. In Newton’s provocative style, the whole aesthetic of the past century crystallized. Frames from the Edge is one of the best photography movies in the documentary genre. Since Helmut Newton rarely shot in studios, this film will also show you the landscapes of Berlin, Paris, Monte Carlo, and Los Angeles from a fashion photography perspective.
12. Rear Window (1954)
If a photographer is locked at home, he will still be a photographer. Here’s an Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller that tells a story about a New York magazine photographer with a broken leg. To make time pass faster, the photographer takes pictures of neighbors living in the house opposite of him. This movie about a photographer invites you to reflect on the difference between personal and public life, as well as photography as a tool to steal moments.
13. Photograph (2019)
Is it time to relax a little and fill the heart with love? This slightly naive Indian film is about an ordinary street photographer in Mumbai and a shy girl who almost was left without her photo. The protagonist’s grandmother refuses to take medicine until her grandson proves that he has a bride. That’s why he asks the stranger to pose for him and sends a picture to his grandmother. This film is not dedicated to photography as a kind of art, but it helps to believe that happiness awaits everyone, and photographers are no exception.
14. Proof (1991)
Can a blind person be a photographer? Well, one in this Australian comedy-drama can. For him, a camera is a way to find out from others what places he visited today. The photographer shows images to others and asks them to describe what they saw. Thus, photography becomes the basis for social connections and the reason for new acquaintances. Bonus for movie fans: this movie about photography is starring Matrix star Weaving (the main character), as well as Russell Crowe.
15. Ship of Theseus (2012)
This is an Indian art-house drama, one of the heroes of which is a visually impaired experimental photographer. The film is based on an ancient Greek paradox called Ship of Theseus: if we replace all the elements of the ship with new ones, and assemble another ship from the old elements, which of these two ships will be the original (Ship of Theseus)? The heroes of the movie should find answers to a similar question. The movie could be interesting for photographers due to its unique metaphoric aesthetics and ancient Greek allusions.
For more inspiration, see our previous covers on Instagram photography trends 2020 and aesthetically pleasing movies. What are your favorite movies about photography? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.
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