Film making and Photography go hand-in-hand. In film making, the art of cinematography is lost with photography. The skill to present moving images in such postcard-like material is in itself a direct descendant of the art of still-photography. If a photographer truly wants to improve his or her craft, they need to study how filmmakers and cinematographers captures moving images on the screen. Just as important is for still photographers to watch films that depict he art of photography through Hollywood’s eye and also visit the stories of celebrated photographers through documentaries.
Here are 40 notable films and documentaries (out of the 100) about photography every photographer should watch… in no particular order.
100 Movies About Photography (1-40)
A dark thriller featuring an inspired Robin Williams playing a Walmart one-hour photo clerk who ended up stalking a family whose pictures he regularly takes and develops.
An independent art house film that is brooding, melancholy and beautifully shot. The film’s heroine, Radha Mitchell is a young intern at a small magazine that falls in love with a drug addicted lesbian photographer, Ally Sheedy. The two exploit each other to advance their careers.
The main character, James Stewart, stars alongside Grace Kelly in this classic Hitchcock thriller about a wheelchair bound photographer who spies on his neighbors through the lens of his camera. In one of his voyeuristic episodes he is convinced he sees one of them commit a murder.
Julia Roberts portrays a portrait photographer who gets entangled in a love triangle with the characters played by Jude Law and Clive Owen. Although the film only shows a little bit of the photography side, the film itself was wonderfully shot and gives an accurate depiction of the photography process.
A great movie with an indie feel that is heightened by the artistic genius of John Waters behind the camera. Weirdness galore aside, Edward Furlong delivers a great performance as the small town sandwich shop employee turned over night fine art photography sensation when he is discovered by a big city art dealer who leads him through the tongue-in-cheek world of fine art photography scene.
a 60’s film with a cult following status, this film follows Thomas a fashion photographer played by David Hemmings, who discovers he accidentally captured a murder on film in the background of one of the images while he’s developing it in the darkroom.
7. Proof (1991)
A lesser known film from the pre-Gladiator career of Russell Crowe, whose character describes to a blind photographer (Hugo Weaving in his pre-Matrix role) the photos he had taken. Sounds like cliche, but the movie was wonderfully filmed and acted.
Three journalists in a romantic triangle are involved in political intrigue during the last days of the corrupt Somozoa regime in Nicaragua before it falls to a popular revolution in 1979. Under Fire is a technically sound cinematic characterization of a wartime photojournalist played by Nick Nolte.
This chilling portrayal of life growing up in the favelas and streets of Brazil shows two boys coming of age, one of them growing up to become a photographer. Not only considered as the best film about photography, it is also one of the best films to come out in recent years.
In this hysterically high-spirited comedy set in early 20th-century London, frustrated artist Kingdom Swann, played by Billy Connolly, accepts a life-changing gift of a camera. Starting a new career in photography, he expresses his artistic aptitude in more unrestrained portraits of nudes in classical settings and thus subjects himself in the limelight of scornful notoriety!
A Swedish film about a woman who wins a camera in a wartime raffle. The lead character, played by Maria Heiskanen, develops a fascination with photography with which she struggles. However, her love of photography and decision to keep the camera ultimately changes her life.
Nicole Kidman stars in this biopic about the legendary American photographer Diane “Fur” Arbus. The film shows how a lonely and shy housewife in New York set out a journey into the world of photography shooting images of people that stand outside the confines of society.
Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty, a negative assets manager at Life Magazine, who ended up with an adventure of a lifetime when he sets out to find Sean O’ Connell, played by Sean Penn. after negative #25, which O’Conell describes as the “quintessence of Life”, intended to be Life Magazine’s final issue cover goes missing.
Andie MacDowell stars as the wife of a missing photojournalist reported lost in the Yugoslavian civil war of 1991. She teams up with two other photographers, played by Brendan Gleeson and Adrien Brody, to help her find her missing husband.
Documentary Movies About Photography
Two filmmakers travels to the brothels in Calcutta and gives child prostitutes cameras to shoot their everyday lives. The result is one inspiring and heartbreaking peek into their world which also resulted into having their pictures exhibited in a NYC gallery.
An intimate look at the career of photojournalist James Nachtwey as he shoots his way into the horrors of world conflicts. Aside from the photography aspect of his job, viewers are taken inside the mind of Nachtwey as he searches in vain for the logic behind the brutality and cruelty of war.
In 2007, long lost and unseen photographs of Robert Capa and two other civil war photographers, David Seymour and Gerda Taro showed up mysteriously in Mexico City, filmmaker Trisha Ziff takes viewers to uncover its origin.
In this documentary the shy Cindy Sherman talks about being the master of disguise as brought about by her chameleon-like style of photography role playing and deliver an intimate look at her artistic methods.
Blurring the lines between pornography and photography, this film follows Helmut Newton and his provocative images to his favorite shooting locations of Paris, Monte Carlo, Los Angeles and Berlin.
And the rest, but not the least, are;
There you go, just the first 40 movies on the list about photography that can only be the beginning of what we’re sure is a pretty long list. Regardless, these photography-related films and documentaries should definitely be on the list of movies for every photographer or photography lover to should watch.