10 Movies Every Photographer Must Watch

February 28, 2018

It goes without saying that photographers need visual inspiration. Whether it’s a specific type of art, a person, a place, or even a memory, it’s important for any artist to be able to pull their creative energy from all sorts of forces to influence their work. For many aspiring photographers, meeting other artists and photographers enable them to make the connection between their images and who the photographer is as a human being.

Watching great films about photography or movies that are remarkable for its cinematography is one way of drawing inspiration for your art. While you should find your own style when it comes to photography, it’s also a plus to learn a thing or two about the makings of a great photographer and see how they viewed the world from behind their lens. In line with the upcoming Oscar season, here are 10 unforgettable films about photography that will give you more reason practice and perfect your craft.

Blow Up (1966)

A view of London’s 60s mod fashion scene and an engaging, seductive murder mystery that probes the existential nature and distortion of reality through photography.

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens (2007)

Annie Leibovitz’ Life Through a Lens offers a fascinating look into Leibovitz’ career, her progression as an artist, and how she made history with her stunning photos. The film allows us to catch a glimpse of the thought process behind Leibovitz’ work. Interestingly, the young Leibovitz’ captured her first pics in the Philippines when her father was stationed in the country during the Vietnam War.

Finding Vivien Maier (2013)

A must-see critically acclaimed documentary about an enigmatic nanny who secretly took 100,000 photos and hid them in storage lockers. Vivien Maier’s story was highly revered and she was posthumously recognized as one of the greatest photographers in the 20th century.

War Photographer (2001)

Considered the greatest war photographer ever, James Nichtwey braved war-torn countries like Kosovo and Rwanda to capture the frightening scenes of destruction on film. He was also in New York City the morning of the September 11 attacks and was able to take real-time photos of the massive tragedy that unfolded right before his eyes.

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye (2003)

Known as the father of photojournalism, humanist photographer, and master of candid photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson pioneered the genre of street photography and lived on his philosophy “the decisive moment” to capture the meaning of what is beneath outward appearance. The Impassioned Eye shows interviews with historians, colleagues that delves into impact of Cartier-Bresson’s global work.

The Bang Bang Club (2010)

A gritty, real-life film based on the experiences of four photo journalists in the early 90s who captured the violence between Ithaca and ANC supporters. The movie is a non-stop heart-stopping adventure that depicts the passion of capturing life, terror, and death on camera and the conflict between wanting to get the best shot and intervening to help.

The Salt Of The Earth (2015)

A vibrant portrait of Sebastian Salgado depicting his work on human suffering segueing into the beauty and permanence of nature.

Waste Land (2010)

Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz produces portraits the lives of scavengers with the film focusing on showing the power of art and the dignity of the human spirit as some extraordinary people commit to help the residents of the landfill.

Everlasting Moments (2008)

This movie chronicles the life of an immigrant, Maria Larsson whose life is stricken with poverty but has an undiscovered talent with taking beautiful photographs. It is a beautiful story about love and hope, a simple woman, her husband, her daughter, and a camera. The latter, being a tool that saved their lives.

Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light (1966)

Richard Avedon is considered one of the most influential and innovative fashion photographers. He is best known for his minimalist portraits starting with working on showbiz personalities then moving to shoot ordinary people and political events.