The following list is 15 of my favorite movies about photography (in one way or another). Whenever I am in a photography funk I like to sit and watch someone else taking photos until I get the fear of missing out. Then I get out and take photos.
Also included is the full free video (where possible) or a link to the cheapest streamable version. You may have to do a little googling around in different countries but they are all available online.
If you enjoy the list please share it with someone you know who is into photography. Please add any movies that you have been inspired by in the comments below.
The less time we have uninspired the more great pictures we can take!
The Best Movies about Photography:
1. Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters (2012)
A documentary shot over a decade with unprecedented access to photographer Gregory Crewdson that bears the artist’s process.
2. William Eggleston: In the Real World (2005)
The film reveals the deep connection between William Eggleston’s personality and his work, and also reveals his parallel commitments as a musician, draftsman, and videographer.
3. Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens (2008)
Barbara Leibovitz’s intimate biography of her sister the photographer Annie Leibovitz.
If you are in the USA (or VPN) You can watch the full video HERE
4. James Nachtwey: War Photographer (2001)
A documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey, considered by many the greatest war photographer ever.
5. The Bang Bang Club (2010)
A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa.
6. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
A profile of the noted and extraordinarily cheerful veteran New York City fashion photographer.
More information at IMDB
7. Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids (2004)
Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta, and the relationships they developed with the children of prostitutes who work the city’s notorious red-light district.
8. Blow-Up (1966)
A mod London photographer seems to find something very suspicious in the shots he has taken of a mysterious beauty in a desolate park.
9. Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye (2003)
Filmed only a few years before his death, this documentary focuses on the career of Henri Cartier-Bresson, a frustrated painter who became a world-renowned photographer.
10. Visual Acoustics (2008)
Visual Acoustics celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream.
11. Helmut Newton: Frames from the Edge (1989)
A camera crew follows Helmut Newton, the fashion and ad photographer whose images of tall, blond, big-breasted women are part of the iconography of twentieth-century erotic fantasy.
12. One Hour Photo (2002)
An employee of a one-hour photo lab becomes obsessed with a young suburban family.
13. Shooting Robert King (2008)
Follows Robert King in his fifteen years as a war photographer.
14. Manufactured Landscapes (2006)
Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing.
15. Rear Window (1954)
Wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.
16. High Art (1998)
Starring Radha Mitchell as a young female intern at a small magazine, falls in love with a drug-addicted lesbian photographer Ally Sheedy, while they exploit each other to move forward and advance their careers.
17. Closer (2004)
In this romantic love story starring Julia Roberts, two couples meet, cheat and deceive each other as it grows into a very dangerous love story.
18. Pecker (1998)
A comedy-drama film starring Edward Furlong as a talented young photographer. He gets discovered by New York City art dealer who leads him to his newfound fame.
19. Proof (1991)
Looked after by a housekeeper, the life of one blind photographer(Hugo Weaving) is disturbed by the arrival of a restaurant worker.
20. City of God (2002)
The life of two kids in the slums of Rio cross paths as one desires to become a kingpin, and the other one struggles to become a photographer.
21. Gentlemen’s Relish (2001)
In early 20th century London, a frustrated artist played by Billy Connolly now struggles for his fame. As he received a camera as a gift, he starts a new career in photography.
22. Everlasting Moments (2008)
A film about a young woman named Maria living in a time of unrest, war, and poverty. But her whole life changes when she wins a camera in a lotter.
23. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)
When Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) is about to lose his job, Walter embarks on an extraordinary adventure of a lifetime.
24. Ship of Theseus (2012)
This is an Indian art-house drama film that revolves around an experimental photographer. The film also offers unique metaphoric aesthetics and ancient Greek allusions.
25. Photograph (2019)
The film focuses on a struggling street photographer in Mumbai. As his grandmother pressures him to marry and refuses to take medicine until he proves that he has a bride. That’s why he asks a stranger to pretend as her fiancé and send pictures to her grandmother.
26. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)
A documentary about Vivian Maier, now considered one of the best street photographers. Only after her death that her genius was uncovered because of her archive of 100,000 photographs.
27. The Mexican Suitcase / La Maleta Mexicana (2011)
The documentary is about the three Mexican Suitcase that was discovered in 2007. The discovery includes the unseen photographs of Robert Capa and two other fellow photographers.
28. Life (2015)
A 1955 LIFE Magazine photographer is assigned to shoot pictures of then-rising star James Dean played by Dane DeHaan.
29. William Eggleston In the Real World (2005)
A documentary about William Eggleston, an American photographer that is widely credited with increasing recognition for color photography.
30. National Geographic: Search For The Afghan Girl (2003)
A captivating journey to find the girl popularly known as the “Afghan Girl” whose haunting gaze captured all our attention in a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magazine cover.
31. Ansel Adams – A Documentary Film (2002)
A documentary film about the life and work of Ansel Adams, an American landscape photographer.
32. Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project (2006)
After her success in the 2001 exhibit at London’s Saatchi Gallery, Tierney Gearon goes to New York to do another project by photographing her mother.
33. Kodachrome (2017)
As the photo development system known as Kodachrome is in its final days, a father and son step on a journey in to reach the Kansas photo lab before it shut its doors for good.
34. Smash His Camera (2010)
A film about the life and work of Ron Galella that focuses on the effects of the paparazzi.
35. Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers And The Emergence of a People (2014)
This epic film explores from the invention of photography to the present, and how African-Americans used cameras as a tool for social change.
36. 1,000 Times Good Night (2013)
Considered one of the top war photographers, Rebecca needs to fight a major emotional storm as her husband has had enough of her dangerous life.
37. Don’t Blink (2015)
The man who revolutionized independent film and photography, Robert Frank.
38. Photographing Fairies (1997)
Numbed by pain after the death of his beautiful bride, photographer Charles Castle goes off to work in the trenches of war as a photographer.
39. The Salt Of The Earth (2014)
This is a film about Sebastião Salgado, who spent four decades deprived of societies throughout the world.
40. Eyes Of Laura Mars
Laura Mars, a glamorous fashion photographer develops an extraordinary to see through the eyes of a killer.
41. Under Fire (1983)
During the final days of the corrupt Somozoa regime in Nicaragua, three journalists are in involved in the political intrigue before it falls to a popular revolution in 1979.
42. Salvador (1986)
A story of an American photojournalist that gets stuck in a political struggle in El Salvador in 1980.
43. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
A film about a photographer Robert Kincaid played by Clint Eastwood, wanders into the life of Francesca Johnson.
44. The Public Eye (1992)
A story of a photographer that specializes in crime, but gets involved in one.
More information at IMDB
45. Peter Beard: Scrapbooks From Africa & Beyond (1998)
A documentary featuring Peter Beard, an American photographer, artist, writer and artist.
46. Strand, Under the Dark Cloth (1989)
Despite being well known, Paul Strand is happiest in the isolation of the dark room.
47. Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008)
An interesting documentary about the relationship of photographer Cindy Sherman and commentator Paul Hasegawa-Overacker.
48. Harrison’s Flowers (2000)
A story of a woman that embarks on a journey to Europe, in war-torn Yugoslavia to find his photojournalist husband.
49. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)
Leaving behind her family and wealth, Diane Arbus falls in love with an enigmatic mentor that helped her to become one of the most revered photographers.
50. The Killing Fields (1984)
A journalist in Cambodia during the reign of tyrant Pol Pot.
4 thoughts on “The 50 Must See Movies about Photography (and where to see them!)”
Palermo Shooting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPvS-Q9tVsI
What?! No mention of ‘In No Great Hurry’ and the work of Saul Leiter? In all seriousness: Many thanks for making this list. I was not aware of all of the films or photographers that you featured (how is it that I had never before heard of Robert King?); so, there are some that I will now need to chase up. Another wish for me would have been ‘The Black Rose’, about the work of Trent Parke. (He can photograph like a dream.) – Christopher
Another thought: ‘My Asian Heart’, about the work of Philip Blenkinsop. Stark and raw, and all in uncomfortably plain view.- Christopher
Two more suggestions come to mind: ‘McCullin’, about the sixty-year career of the British photojournalist Don McCullin, and ‘Looking for Light’, about the British newspaper portrait photographer Jane Bown. (And do you realise that you have mentioned the William Eggleston film twice?) – Christopher