What are some movies that all lovers of photography should watch?


(Ben Mckechnie) #1

Recently, I watched Finding Vivian Maier, a brilliant documentary about one of the greatest street photographers to have ever lived. The kicker is Vivian Maier’s work wasn’t discovered until after her death, when boxes of undeveloped rolls of her film were bought at auction. It was truly fascinating to see one man’s mission to piece together this intriguing woman’s life story. I adore Maier’s photography and I can’t recommend this documentary movie enough.

Another very different movie is Samsara. This is a truly unique visual experience. It’s a breathtaking tour of the world, focusing on religious sites, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. It juxtaposes scenes of great beauty against extremes of nature and flaws of humankind. It is fascinating for photographers because the videography utilizes many of the composition techniques also used by still photographers. People stare intensely into the camera. Often scenes feel like still travel photos that have been brought to life.

Released in 2011, Samsara is the follow-up to creator Ron Fricke’s 1992 movie Baraka, another absolute must-see. If you’re into travel photography, it’s likely these films will have a profound and lasting effect on you. I know they did on me.

What are some other movies that all photographers should try to watch? Let’s curate a list of recommendations!


(Antonio Gil) #2

The movie about Sebastião Salgado, made by Wim Wenders, called The Salt of the Earth is imperative.


(Jay Boggess) #3

Thanks, amigo! I’ll try to find it!


(Dean Singleton) #4

For sheer photographic beauty and fantastic movie I’m going to go way back. It was a Hollywood production rather than a photographer’s movie though. It’s a movie that made me want to really get into making beautiful photographs. Dr Zhivago’s winter scenes are the best I’ve ever seen. It’s long but when the mood hits, I watch it again.


(Helen Hooker) #5

The BBC broadcast an excellent television series back in 2007 called ‘The Genius of Photography’. I have it on DVD and I would imagine it’s still available. There was also a book to accompany the series.


(Ben Mckechnie) #6

@angil Yes, Antonio! This looks amazing. Here’s the trailer for other users to see.

@girafferacing Excellent suggestion, Helen. I must have missed this when it was originally broadcast. I’m definitely going to try to track this down.

@pdsdville I’ve never seen Dr Zhivago so I shall endeavor to now. Thanks for your suggestion, Dean!


(Ben Mckechnie) #8

I’ve just finished episode 1 of @girafferacing Helen’s recommendation, BBC’s ‘The Genius of Photography’. It is excellent! I hope some more people are able to track it down so we can have a discussion about it here on the forum.


(Helen Hooker) #9

Glad you managed to get hold of it Ben - I must watch the series again soon.

If you’re looking for other recommendations, can I suggest ‘In No Great Hurry’, about Saul Leiter. It was made back in 2012, just a couple of years before he died. It’s a gentle film where he talks about his views on photography and life which I downloaded and watched this week. You can learn more here.

Leiter did quite a bit of fashion photography and was a pioneer of colour photography, shooting consistently in colour back in the 1940s and 50s before many others started using colour film.

I’ve also got another DVD about Jane Bown waiting to be watched so I’ll report back about that in due course!


(Stephanie Hyde) #10

I was completely fascinated by the Finding Vivian Maier documentary. Such beautiful images she captured. The design of her camera made it perfect for documenting people…I rarely take pictures of strangers as I feel uncomfortable doing so.


(Amy Daniels) #11

#SouthsideWithYou is the love story of President Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date. It’s a short but sweet movie that takes place in less than 24 hours. It’s just as endearing and engaging as the real life personas they portray before the world everyday. Their love story is relatable and easy just as true love should be. Enjoy :heart:


(Holly Crocker) #12

I just read about that movie and added it to my must see list!


(Amy Daniels) #13

Excellent. I hope you enjoy it. It’s refreshingly sweet


(Nick Perkins) #14

I’ve got a bit of an eclectic collection of favourites if I’m honest.

City of God (For Documentary/Journalistic inspiration)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (For my wanderlust)
Bill Cunningham - New York (For Documentary/Street inspiration)
Mad Max - Fury Road Black & Chrome Edition (This is George Miller’s preferred cut. It’s a completely different, yet utterly beautiful cut of the film shot/transferred into Black & White. It makes it look like a violent Art movie)
I also tried to watch Sky Arts Masters Of Photography earlier this year, but quite honestly found it massively offensive, preachy and condescending.

Keen to check out that Sebastiao Salgado doc, I just picked up GENESIS for my bookshelf.


(Caroliiiiina) #15

Koyaanisqatsi. It’s a film consisting solely of timelapse photography. As a photographer and an artist, I think it is absolutely phenomenal. But to a stranger, this might be a boring movie. There are no actors, no dialogue, and specific plot. It’s just pure photography with the themes of human nature and the industrialized world. It’s free to watch on youtube. Definitely check it out!


(Jessica Mott) #16

I watched that and it was Amazing!


(A N) #17

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - because German Expressionism. German Expressionism began as a style of painting and eventually was adapted into some of the earliest “art” films. Basically, the sets and cinematography endeavor to capture the emotional experience of the protagonist visually (something photographers explore quite often). In TCoDC the visuals challenge the viewers perception and each scene is filled with strange angles and odd foreboding shadows. It makes clear how much styling and mood can play out a theme to great effect.


(Kelly Williams) #18

Blow-Up
18 December 1966 (USA)
Crime, Drama, Mystery

A mod London photographer finds something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni


(Jill Bahm) #19

All these movies sound great! I will definitely try to check some of them out. @pdsdville 's suggestion of Dr. Zhivago made me think that as far as cinematography goes, I LOVED Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel!! For a really interesting biography, check out PBS’s American Masters film about Dorothea Lange.


(Ben Mckechnie) #20

@caroliiiiina Yes! When I started this forum thread originally, I recommended the movies Samsara and Baraka. Both were made by the same man (Ron Fricke) who was in charge of the cinematography on Koyaanisqatsi. Excellent recommendation :slight_smile: So, have you seen Samsara and/or Baraka?


(Jill Bahm) #21

Thank you so much for the recommendation about Finding Vivian Maier! Wow - I am absolutely in love with her photos!!! A fascinating story, too. I was so overwhelmed by this film that I almost got in the car to drive 13 hours to see some of her photos on exhibit. Not in the cards now, but I will keep looking for her work. I’m looking forward to watching the other films you recommend!!