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10 Films about Photography Every Photographer Should Watch

Marianne Stenger
26th September 2018

As the weather cools off and the nights get longer, we’ll all be spending more of our evenings snuggled up at home. So if you’re looking for some ideas for interesting photography-related things to watch in the coming months, here are ten films and documentaries about photographers that every photography enthusiast should watch at least once.

1. Rear Window (1954)  

It’s impossible to talk about photography films without mentioning this mysterious classic by Alfred Hitchcock. The movie’s protagonist is a wheelchair-bound photographer who passes the time by spying on the other tenants in his building with the help of a camera and telephoto lens. Things take a chilling turn when he witnesses what he believes to be a murder and sets out to uncover the truth.

Available to rent or purchase on YouTube and Google Play


2. Blow-Up (1966)

Blow-Up is another thriller about a photographer who inadvertently captures a crime on camera. Directed by Italian film director and screenwriter Michelangelo Antonioni, Blow-Up features a fashion photographer who, in his downtime, happens upon two lovers in a park and spontaneously photographs them. A series of strange events soon lead him believe that there may have been more to the couple in the park than he initially suspected.

Available to rent or purchase on iTunes, YouTube and Google Play


3. Born Into Brothels (2004)

Born Into Brothels was directed by British photographer and filmmaker Zana Briski, and offers an inspiring look at how photography can be used as a tool for empowerment. Briski and her collaborator Ross Kaufman initially travelled to Kolkata in India to document the city’s notorious red light district. While there, they befriended some of the children living there and taught them how to tell their stories through photography. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary feature and led to the creation of a non-profit organisation called Kids with Cameras.

Available to rent or purchase on Google Play or watch on Amazon Prime


4. Pecker (1998)

Pecker is a comedy-drama directed by American cult filmmaker John Waters. It documents the misadventures of a photography-obsessed teenager who works in a sandwich shop and photographs his quirky friends and family on the side. His life is thrown into chaos when his photographs are discovered by a famous New York art collector who decides to promote his work.

Available to rent or purchase on iTunes, YouTube and Google Play


5. Annie Lebovitz: Life through a Lens

Annie Lebovitz: Life through a Lens chronicles the life, work, and rise to fame of one of the world’s most iconic portrait photographers. The documentary was shot by Annie Lebovitz’s sister Barbara Lebovitz, and provides a fascinating glimpse at the creative process of a portrait photographer, as well as what it’s like to work with and photograph some of Hollywood’s most recognisable faces.

Available to rent or purchase on iTunes or watch on Amazon Prime


6. Proof (1991)

Proof is the fictional tale of a blind photographer with deep-seated trust issues. Directed by Australian filmmaker Jocelyn Moorhouse, the film shows us how the photographer snaps photos of the world around him and then has people describe the photographs he’s taken as “proof” that he isn’t being lied to. Although the story is unusual, it provides an interesting look at our relationship with photography and will leave you with plenty of food for thought.

Available on Amazon Prime and Google Play


7. Henri Cartier Bresson: The Impassioned Eye (2003)

Henri Cartier Bresson was a French humanist photographer and is widely considered one of the pioneers of street photography as we know it today. This short film provides a fascinating look at his life and work, as well as the legacy he left behind, and is a must-see for anyone with an interest in street photography, photojournalism, and portraiture.

Available to watch on Netflix


8. Delirious (2006)

Directed by American filmmaker Tom DeCillo, Delirious is the story of a twenty-something-year-old who goes from sleeping rough on the streets of New York to working as an assistant for a neurotic celebrity photographer played by Steve Buscemi. The offbeat comedy is a good representation of the paparazzi life and fickle entertainment industry.

Available to rent or purchase from Google Play or YouTube


9. Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008)

Guest of Cindy Sherman is a biography of sorts that looks at the work and personal life of the influential but reclusive photographer and artist Cindy Sherman. The documentary was co-directed by Paul Hasegawa-Overacker, an art commentator who once carried on a relationship with Sherman. It’s told from his point of view, which gives it an intimate feel and provides a wonderful glimpse behind the scenes.

Available to rent or purchase on iTunes


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

Directed by American filmmaker Steven Shainberg and starring Nicole Kidman, this movie was inspired by the life and work of iconic American photographer Diane Arbus who was known for her intimate black-and-white images as well as her controversial photographs of people on the fringes of society. Overall, it’s an interesting portrayal of one of the world’s most daring photographers.

Available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime