What makes a great movie about photography? Of course, there are different factors to consider. The audience certainly has the biggest impact. But, we think the main factor in making a great movie about photography is the theme. Is it about photography itself, or the photographer? Or, is it about the photographer’s relationship to his or her parents? Or, is it about other professional photographers? Read more.
What Are the Best Movies About Photography?
There’s a lot of movies about photography out there, but not all of them are really worth watching. Filmmakers from all corners of the globe have had a chance to make their mark on the art of photography—documentary, fiction, and even the occasional animation.
If you want to get a glimpse of a particular era’s way of thinking about shooting a shot, of a specific camera, or of a certain era’s era of photography, then these are some of the best of the best movies you might want to watch:
Maria is a young woman living in a time of unrest, war, and poverty. But her whole life changes when she wins a camera in a lottery. She is now able to live a life of freedom and passion as she photographs the beauty of the world around her.
Half Past Autumn
The Life and Works of Gordon Parks – Gordon Parks was one of the most influential portrait photographers of the 20th century, as well as a renowned filmmaker and cinematographer. He was also a social activist and a leader in the Civil Rights movement.
The movie deals with the life of photographer Herbert Lyon (played by Billy Connolly), who is stuck with a terrible job. After receiving a camera as a gift, he decides to make his own photographs
Alfred Stieglitz: The Eloquent Eye
The film is about the life of the famous American avant-garde photographer Alfred Stieglitz and his exuberant and controversial career in photography and art.
City of God
A film that focuses on the lives of impoverished children in a shantytown called the City of God. These children, known as the Tender Branches, get into all sorts of trouble, from running drugs to stealing cars, but they have a secret: they have a dream of being artists.
Toward the Margin of Life
The movie reveals a photographer who worked at a moment in time, a man deeply committed to his craft, and a man who truly loved the people he met. That’s what makes his work so powerful.
It is about an accomplished photographer who takes his craft seriously. Despite the fact that he is blind, he works at a high-end restaurant performing tasks like making cheese plates and cleaning windows, and the film follows him as he tries to cope with the arrival of a staff member who brings her family with her.
Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project
Tierney Gearon, a real-life photographer, sets out to document the world’s most endangered species, documented by her husband. She documents her experiences through photographs, which are later used as the basis of her books. Tierney is the photographer of the book Mother Project, which is now out of print.
This is a comedy-drama film that revolves around a young man who is desperate to become a professional photographer. The film is a comical tale that explores a variety of themes, including success, failure, and relationships.
Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light
The film follows the life of Richard Avedon, the only man to win the highest honors of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP) and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).
The film focuses on the attempted murder of a married couple by their lover, who is obsessed with them. The film was based on Chekov’s play The Cherry Orchard.
High Art is a coming-of-age story set in New York City’s photographic community. The film departs from the typical coming of age story where the main character grows into adulthood. Instead of following the story of an individual, High Art follows the story of a group of young people who are connected through their work.
In this movie, the main character discovers that the camera is a powerful, magical tool. This happens when wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors through his apartment window, he becomes convinced that one of them has committed murder
The film is about photographer Edward Burtynsky captures the world he lives in. He had traveled to more than 40 countries in the last four years, photographing the landscapes, industry, and people of each one.
Shooting Robert King
Robert King is one of the most famous war photographers of all time. He shot some of the most iconic images of the last 50 years, including the iconic “Napalm Girl” photograph taken during the Vietnam War. King also covered the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One Hour Photo
The film reveals a world in which a photo can be taken in one hour and can last a lifetime. In Alex’s world, there are no rules about when a photo should be taken, how it should be taken, who should take it, or where it should be taken.
Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge
Helmut Newton was a photographer who captured the spirit of the times in a way that was both sexy and a little sleazy.
This film is based on the life of Julius Shulman, who was a pioneer in the use of color photography in film. In this context, his work is many things at once, reflecting his personal history and the historical moment in which he lived.
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye
This film is about the life of a frustrated painter, Henri Cartier-Bresson, but then became a famous photographer.
It centers around an espionage thriller that takes place in London when a photographer takes pictures of a mysterious beauty in a deserted park. The beauty, who happens to be the wife. Everyone wondered why the pictures were taken and if she was really dead.
Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids
The film focuses on the relationship that develops between the filmmakers and the children of the prostitutes who work in the city’s infamous red-light district, Sonagachi.
Bill Cunningham New York
The movie tells about the veteran New York City fashion photographer is a walking history lesson of how we’ve come to see and document life through photography.
The Bang Bang Club
Is about four black South African combat photographers who were considered renegades in their own country and who risked their lives daily to capture the truth.
James Nachtwey: War Photographer
This documentary examines James Nachtwey’s life as a war photographer.
Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens
Annie Leibovitz is a photographer best known for her lens-wearing, iconic shots of her famous subjects, from the Rolling Stones to the Kennedys.
William Eggleston: In the Real World
William Eggleston is one of the most influential photographers of the last half-century. His work is rooted in the tradition of documentary photography, but it also transcends that tradition.
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
Is an intimate documentary portrait shot over a decade with unprecedented access to photographer Gregory Crewdson. The movie reveals the artist’s individualism and drives as he strives to create a work of art, one that is timeless and relevant.
In a world of smartphones and digital cameras, it’s easy to forget that a simple snapshot still carries a lot of meaning. The movie is a little meta as well as a love letter to the art of photography. In the end, there’s a lesson that anyone can learn from a great photo.
La Maleta Mexicana
The Mexican Suitcase is a fascinating film that looks at the life of the anonymous photographer known only as “the Mexican Suitcase,” whose pictures of combat during the Spanish Civil War were released in the 1990s, some of which had never been seen before. This film follows the stories of three of his friends, some of whom are still alive, who are still looking for photographs taken during the War.
Finding Vivian Maier
The facts of Vivian Maier’s extraordinary story are an irresistible mystery. Her work has become something of a modern Rorschach test, revealing the sentiments of time and place through the complexity of her subjects.
The plot was about an aspiring photographer in Mumbai, India, who faces opposition from his family, friends, and girlfriend. When his camera is stolen, he introduces himself as the fiancé of an old woman to who he left some pictures of his work
Ship of Theseus
This film is an experimental and visually arresting film about the nature of creation and the limits of representation. It is a camera that transforms the world around it into an eternal memory. Or, more precisely, it is an experiment in time travel.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
This movie is about a mild-mannered yet ambitious and imaginative photographer who is fired and subsequently and accidentally gets involved in an extraordinary adventure, but to escape the humdrum, he has to live up to his name.
Eyes Of Laura Mars
In this movie, Laura Mars is struggling to make a living as a fashion photographer when she becomes a victim of a serial killer. The killer randomly selects his targets, beginning with Laura, with his ability to kill being linked to her ability to see what’s not really there
The Salt Of The Earth
In the early ’60s, Sebastião Salgado, a legendary Magnum photographer, was asked to document the state of the Amazon. The resulting project, The Salt of the Earth, was a record of a people whose cultures and way of life had been diminished by a relentless onslaught of western consumerism.
In the movie, Castle has a chance to meet with a photographer in the trenches of the war, who shares stories about his wife, a fairy. As Castle’s emotional state deteriorates, he leaves his job to become a photographer again in a world filled with fairies.
Is a documentary that captures the life and times of American documentary photographer Robert Frank. Frank was a trailblazer who was able to capture the essence of the human condition as best as he could as he roamed the globe.
1,000 Times Good Night
Rebecca is one of the world’s top war photographers, traipsing through the hot spots around the world with her camera, documenting the conflagrations that are often overlooked by the mainstream media. Yet, what Rebecca doesn’t realize is that this isn’t the only job she has to do. She has to balance her personal life as well, with her husband, Ian, who recently left his therapist to come home.
Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People
Is a documentary that traces the history of African-American photography from 1839 through to today.
Smash His Camera
Is a documentary about Ron Galella, one of the most well-known photographers of the 20th century. But his name is also infamous, as he is one of the top paparazzi sports photographers of all time.
Is a story about fathers and sons, about secrets buried for decades, about the ties that bind us to the past. It is also about the bonds between people in general.
Ansel Adams – A Documentary Film
The film tells the story of Ansel Adams’ life and work and explores the technical and aesthetic achievements that earned him worldwide acclaim and recognition.
National Geographic: Search For The Afghan Girl
The story of the Afghan Girl (or Nargis Mai, as her name is spelled in the credits) was the subject of magazine covers in both the US and Europe and even brought the plight of Afghan women to the attention of the rest of the world.
The Bridges of Madison County
The film is about two people who meet in the late 1950s in the Midwest, fall in love, and marry in 1959. Thirty years later, they try to reconnect.
Guest of Cindy Sherman
In the documentary, Cindy Sherman said that her work is not just about her, rather it is a comment on the society we live in. She said that photography is a way of observing and presenting what is happening in society.
This is a film that celebrates the power of photography and how it can be used to bring a greater awareness to a terrible conflict. It’s a film that’s not only a wonderful tribute to a lost loved one but also a story of a woman who uses photos to give a voice to the voiceless.
The Photographers Series: Debbie Fleming Caffery
As a photographer, Debbie Fleming Caffery has dedicated her life to capturing the world around her on film. She travels the world, documenting the incredible people and places she encounters, and is a published writer on travel and photography.
The Genius of Photography – How Photography Had Changed Our Lives
The film is set in the early 20th century, when the art of photography was just beginning to emerge. The film jumps back and forth in time, following three photographers who are each taking on the next big thing in photography at the time. The characters featured in the film are all based on real life photographers.
Peter Beard: Scrapbooks From Africa & Beyond
In this entertaining documentary, Peter Beard—in person, as well as on film—talks about his life as a documentary photographer, including the time he spent in Africa and his adventures with the BBC crew, as well as his work as a teacher and mentor for third world photographers.
Frame by Frame
Is an epic documentary about Kabul, Afghanistan, at the height of the Taliban’s rule in the late 1990s. Through interviews with both Afghan and American photographers, the film illustrates the city through the lens of photography and the ways photography helped transform the world around them.
These films display different genres and styles, and they range from famous classics to obscure indie shorts. However, regardless of the subject matter and the filmmaker, all of these films share a common theme: they all explore the power of photography and how it can shape our lives and relationships.
When it comes to photography, there are many films that are made with the sole intent of inspiring the real-world equivalent of an action hero. Most of these films, like the many mentioned in this post, include dramatic sequences in which the main character finds themselves in peril, perhaps capturing a photo of the action that will save them, or perhaps something even more valuable.