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 60 notable movies about photography every photographer should watch… in no particular order.

1. One Hour Photo (2002)

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.

One Hour Photo (2002) - Dir. Mark Romanek

2. High Art (1998)

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.

High Art (1998) - Dir. Lisa Cholodenko

3. Rear Window (1954)

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.

Rear Window - Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

4. Closer (2004)

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.

Closer (2004) - Dir. Mike Nichols

5. Pecker (1998)

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.

Pecker (1998) - Dir. John Waters

6. Blow-Up (1966)

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.

Blow Up (1996) - Dir Richard Ebert

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.

8. Under Fire (1983)

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.

9. City of God (2002)

One of my favourite movies ever. 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.

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10. Gentleman’s Relish (2001)

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!

11. Everlasting Moments (2008)

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.

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12. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)

Nicole Kidman stars in this biopic about the legendary American photographer Diane “Fur” ArbusThe 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.

 movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

 13. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

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.

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14. Harrison’s Flowers (2000)

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

15. Born into Brothels (2004)

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.

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16. War Photographer (2001)

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.

movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

17. The Mexican Suitcase (2011)

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.

movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

18. Annie Leibovitz “Life Through A Lens” (2008)

Celebrated photographer Annie Leibovitz through the eyes of some of her well known subjects such as: Whoopi Goldberg, Kirsten Dunst, Kiera Knightly, Mick Jagger and more.movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

19. Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008)

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.

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20. Frames from the Edge: Helmut Newton (2009)

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;

 21. Pictures from a Revolution

22. Aaron Siskind: An Alternate Photographic Reality 

23. Strand: Under the Dark Cloth

24. Masters of Photography – André Kertesz

movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

25. An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps

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26. William Eggleston In the Real World

27. The Adventure of Photography

28. National Geographic – Search for the Afghan Girl

29. Shooting Robert King

30. Berenice Abbott: A View of the 20th Century

movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

31. Ansel Adams – A Documentary Film

32. Peter Beard: Scrapbooks From Africa & Beyond

33. The Genius of Photography – How Photography Has Changed Our Lives

34. The Photographers Series: Debbie Fleming Caffery

35. Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye

36. Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project

37. Toward the Margin of Life

38. American Masters – Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light

movies-about-photography, photography, video, film, movies, entertainment, arts

39. American Masters – Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye

40. Half Past Autumn – The Life and Works of Gordon Parks

 

41. The Bang Bang Club

The 2010 film, adapted from the book, The Bang Bang Club: Snapshots From a Hidden War, centers around four photographers documenting the Apartheid in South Africa .

 

42. Finding Vivian Maier

The 2013 documentary follows the life a Vivian Maier. A relatively unknown photographer until the director of the documentary, John Maloof, won a box of negatives at a Chicago auction that turned out to be Maier’s.

 

43. The Salt of the Earth

Director Juliano Salgado takes us into the life of Brazilian photographer, Sebastiao Saldago as he travels across the globe to photography people.

 

44. The Woodmans

A peek into the life of Francesca Woodman, a young photographer known for her self portraits and photos of other women, usually nude.

 

45. McCullin

Don McCullin, world renown war photographer, sits down and details his harrowing career which has taken him across the globe to war ravaged countries, from Vietnam to Biafra.

 

46. Eyes of Laura Mars

This thriller, directed by John Carpenter, trusts us into the life of Laura Mars, a fashion photographer whose controversial photos depict violence towards women. She soon begins seeing the murders of her colleagues through the eyes of a serial killer.

 

47. An Unlikely Weapon

Directed by Susan Morgan Cooper, An Unlikely Weapon gives up a glimpse into the life of Eddie Adam’s, the photographer best known for the image above during the Vietnam War.

 

48. Chevolution

A 2008 documentary about the famous photo Cuban photography Alberto Diaz snapped of Che Guevara. The image has gone on to become one of the most recognizable snapshots in photography.

 

49. 5 Broken Cameras

Although not about still photography, this documentary follows the lifespan of 5 cameras owned by one family during conflicts along Israel’s West Bank.

 

50. Everybody Street

New York street photographers have documented some of the most iconic photos of all time, this documentary shines a light on some of those photographers.

 

51.The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia

Shelby Lee Adams created some of the most iconic photos of poverty in the midwest. Some of these photos, however, were met with controversy and Adams was excused of exploiting his subjects. This documentary delves into the life, work and controversy behind Adam’s work.

 

52. Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson

A peek into the life of both Edward Weston and Charis Wilson, who met and changed each other’s lives forever.

 

53. Visual Acoustics

Narrated by Dustin Hoffman this documentary uncovers the life of famed architecture photography, Julius Shulman. The documentary highlights specific photos taken by Shulman as well as the effect he had on architects and the industry as a whole.

 

54. What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally Mann

Considered “America’s greatest photographer,” by Time magazine, Sally Mann uncovers the details of her life and creative process as she begins working on a photo series on death and decay.

 

55. Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

Inspired by artists such as Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, Gregory Crewdson creates haunting photographs inspired by his dreams. This documentary, shot over a decade, gives us an exclusive look into Crewdson’s creative process.

 

56. A Thousand Times Goodnight

This visually stunning film, starring Juliette Binoche, includes elements from the life of the director, Erik Poppe, during his time as a photo journalist. From Afghanistan to Kabul to Kenya, danger is ever present.

 

57. Smash His Camera

Dubbed “the Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture,” by Time magazine, Ron Galella was a polarizing figure during his career. Sued by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis twice, Galella stopped at nothing to get the photo he desired.

 

58. Hand Held

A documentary following the life of Mike Carroll and his voyage to Romania after the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.

 

59. Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

Winner of several awards including the Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbra International Film Festival, this documentary highlights African American’s and their role in photography as well as their use of photography for social change.

 

60. Life

Portraying the enigmatic relationship between Magnum photographer Dennis Stock and James Dean, including capturing the iconic shot of Dean in the rain in Times Square.

This ends up our extensive list of movies about photography. Are we missing any? which one is your favourite movie about photography? please leave a comment in the comments section below.